Southern Ocean wind stress in CMIP5 models: Role of wind fluctuations
The Southern Ocean (SO) surface wind stress is a major atmospheric forcing for driving the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and the global overturning circulation. Here the effects of wind fluctuations at different time scales on SO wind stress in eighteen models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) are investigated. It is found that including wind fluctuations, especially on timescales associated with synoptic storms, in the stress calculation strongly enhances the mean strength, modulates the seasonal cycle, and significantly amplifies the trends of SO wind stress. In eleven out of the eighteen CMIP5 models, the SO wind stress has strengthened significantly over the period of 1960-2005. Among them, the strengthening trend of SO wind stress in one CMIP5 model is due to the increase in the intensity of wind fluctuations, while in all the other ten models the strengthening trend is due to the increasing strength of the mean westerly wind. These discrepancies in SO wind stress trend in CMIP5 models may explain some of the diverging behaviors in the model-simulated SO circulation. Our results suggest that to reduce the uncertainty in SO responses to wind stress changes in the coupled models, both the mean wind and wind fluctuations need to be better simulated.
Authors: Lin, Xia, Zhai, Xiaoming, Wang, Zhaomin, Munday, David R.