A new study led by SMURPHS researcher Jules Kajtar, published in Climate Dynamics, concludes that the variability of decadal trends in Pacific wind stress is under-represented in CMIP5 coupled models.
The strengthening of the Pacific trade winds in recent decades has been unmatched in the observational record stretching back to the early twentieth century. This wind strengthening has been connected with numerous climate-related phenomena, including the recent global warming hiatus. Here we show that models in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, phase 5 (CMIP5), underestimate the decadal trends in the Pacific trade winds. Analysis of observational data suggests that tropical Atlantic SST contributes considerably to the Pacific trade wind trends, whereas the Atlantic feedback in coupled models is muted. Biases in Atlantic sea surface temperature appear to be the source of the weaker Atlantic-Pacific decadal connection in models.
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