Effect of parameter change upon the extra-tropical atmospheric variability

H.E. Levine-Moolenaar, F.M. Selten, J. Grasman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Global climate models contain numerous parameters with uncertain values. In the context of climate simulation and prediction, it is relevant to obtain an estimate of the range of climate outcomes given the parameter uncertainty. Instead of randomly perturbing parameters, we determine parameter perturbations from short-term integrations that potentially have a high impact on the climate of the model. For this purpose we consider a dry, spectral quasi-geostrophic, three-level model on the sphere and its tangent linear and adjoint equations. With an empirical forcing, the model produces a fairly realistic simulation of the extra-tropical winter circulation. We allowed perturbations in a 1,449 dimensional parameter space. As a measure of impact on the climate we compute the change in the probability density function of the dominant patterns of variability. We find that the largest climate response in a set of 1,000 simulations with potentially high impact perturbations is much larger than the largest response in a similar set of simulations with randomly picked perturbations. We conclude that parameter sensitivity calculations based on short term integrations contain valuable information about the sensitivity of the model climate to parameter perturbations. The approach is feasible for state-of-the-art climate models provided that the tangent linear and adjoint equations are implemented
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1649-1659
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • north-atlantic oscillation
  • climate-change
  • fluctuation-dissipation
  • models
  • uncertainty
  • ensemble
  • flow

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