Limitations of time-slice experiments for predicting regional climate change over South Asia

Année de publication



Climate Dynamics 2005 24 373 391 4


Abstract: While time-slice simulations with atmospheric general circulation models (GCMs) have been used for many years to regionalize climate projections and/or assess their uncertainties, there is still no consensus about the method used to prescribe sea surface temperature (SST) in such experiments. In the present study, the response of the Indian summer monsoon to increasing amounts of greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols is compared between a reference climate scenario and three sets of time-slice experiments, consisting of parallel integrations for present-day and future climates. Different monthly mean SST boundary conditions have been tested in the present-day integrations: raw climatological SST derived from the reference scenario, observed climatological SST, and observed SST with interannual variability. For future climate, the SST forcing has been obtained by superimposing climatological monthly mean SST anomalies derived from the reference scenario onto the present-day SST boundary conditions. None of these sets of time-slice experiments is able to capture accurately the response of the Indian summer monsoon simulated in the transient scenario. This finding suggests that the ocean–atmosphere coupling is a fundamental feature of the climate system. Neglecting the SST feedback and variability at the intraseasonal to interannual time scales has a significant impact on the projected monsoon response to global warming. Adding interannual variability in the prescribed SST boundary conditions does not mitigate the problem, but can on the contrary reinforce the discrepancies between the forced and coupled experiments. The monsoon response is also shown to depend on the simulated control climate, and can therefore be sensitive to the use of observed rather than model-derived SSTs to drive the present-day atmospheric simulation, as well as to any approximation in the prescribed radiative forcing. While such results do not challenge the use of time-slice experiments for assessing uncertainties and understanding mechanisms in transient scenarios, they emphasize the need for high-resolution coupled atmosphere-ocean GCMs for dynamical downscaling, or at least for high-resolution atmospheric GCMs coupled with a slab or a regional ocean model.

Type de publication
  • journal
Type de document
  • research-article
Classification - Inist-CNRS
    Classification - Scopus
      Classification - Science Metrix
        Classification - Clarivate Analytics (Subject Category)
          Entité nommée
          Entité nommée - Emplacement géographique
            Entité nommée - Organisme
              Entité nommée - Personne
              Powered by Lodex 8.19.1