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      Model uncertainties in climate change impacts on Sahel precipitation in ensembles of CMIP5 and CMIP6 simulations

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          Abstract

          The impact of climate change on Sahel precipitation suffers from large uncertainties and is strongly model-dependent. In this study, we analyse sources of inter-model spread in Sahel precipitation change by decomposing precipitation into its dynamic and thermodynamic terms, using a large set of climate model simulations. Results highlight that model uncertainty is mostly related to the response of the atmospheric circulation to climate change (dynamic changes), while thermodynamic changes are less uncertain among climate models. Uncertainties arise mainly because the models simulate different shifts in atmospheric circulation over West Africa in a warmer climate. We linked the changes in atmospheric circulation to the changes in Sea Surface Temperature, emphasising that the Northern hemispheric temperature gradient is primary to explain uncertainties in Sahel precipitation change. Sources of Sahel precipitation uncertainties are shown to be the same in the new generation of climate models (CMIP6) as in the previous generation of models (CMIP5).

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          An Overview of CMIP5 and the Experiment Design

          The fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) will produce a state-of-the- art multimodel dataset designed to advance our knowledge of climate variability and climate change. Researchers worldwide are analyzing the model output and will produce results likely to underlie the forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Unprecedented in scale and attracting interest from all major climate modeling groups, CMIP5 includes “long term” simulations of twentieth-century climate and projections for the twenty-first century and beyond. Conventional atmosphere–ocean global climate models and Earth system models of intermediate complexity are for the first time being joined by more recently developed Earth system models under an experiment design that allows both types of models to be compared to observations on an equal footing. Besides the longterm experiments, CMIP5 calls for an entirely new suite of “near term” simulations focusing on recent decades and the future to year 2035. These “decadal predictions” are initialized based on observations and will be used to explore the predictability of climate and to assess the forecast system's predictive skill. The CMIP5 experiment design also allows for participation of stand-alone atmospheric models and includes a variety of idealized experiments that will improve understanding of the range of model responses found in the more complex and realistic simulations. An exceptionally comprehensive set of model output is being collected and made freely available to researchers through an integrated but distributed data archive. For researchers unfamiliar with climate models, the limitations of the models and experiment design are described.
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            Migrations and dynamics of the intertropical convergence zone.

            Rainfall on Earth is most intense in the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), a narrow belt of clouds centred on average around six degrees north of the Equator. The mean position of the ITCZ north of the Equator arises primarily because the Atlantic Ocean transports energy northward across the Equator, rendering the Northern Hemisphere warmer than the Southern Hemisphere. On seasonal and longer timescales, the ITCZ migrates, typically towards a warming hemisphere but with exceptions, such as during El Niño events. An emerging framework links the ITCZ to the atmospheric energy balance and may account for ITCZ variations on timescales from years to geological epochs.
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              Overview of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) experimental design and organization

              By coordinating the design and distribution of global climate model simulations of the past, current, and future climate, the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) has become one of the foundational elements of climate science. However, the need to address an ever-expanding range of scientific questions arising from more and more research communities has made it necessary to revise the organization of CMIP. After a long and wide community consultation, a new and more federated structure has been put in place. It consists of three major elements: (1) a handful of common experiments, the DECK (Diagnostic, Evaluation and Characterization of Klima) and CMIP historical simulations (1850–near present) that will maintain continuity and help document basic characteristics of models across different phases of CMIP; (2) common standards, coordination, infrastructure, and documentation that will facilitate the distribution of model outputs and the characterization of the model ensemble; and (3) an ensemble of CMIP-Endorsed Model Intercomparison Projects (MIPs) that will be specific to a particular phase of CMIP (now CMIP6) and that will build on the DECK and CMIP historical simulations to address a large range of specific questions and fill the scientific gaps of the previous CMIP phases. The DECK and CMIP historical simulations, together with the use of CMIP data standards, will be the entry cards for models participating in CMIP. Participation in CMIP6-Endorsed MIPs by individual modelling groups will be at their own discretion and will depend on their scientific interests and priorities. With the Grand Science Challenges of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) as its scientific backdrop, CMIP6 will address three broad questions: – How does the Earth system respond to forcing? – What are the origins and consequences of systematic model biases? – How can we assess future climate changes given internal climate variability, predictability, and uncertainties in scenarios? This CMIP6 overview paper presents the background and rationale for the new structure of CMIP, provides a detailed description of the DECK and CMIP6 historical simulations, and includes a brief introduction to the 21 CMIP6-Endorsed MIPs.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
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                Journal
                Climate Dynamics
                Clim Dyn
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                0930-7575
                1432-0894
                September 2020
                June 20 2020
                September 2020
                : 55
                : 5-6
                : 1385-1401
                Article
                10.1007/s00382-020-05332-0
                1a324406-6da5-40b7-923c-61095d7633f8
                © 2020

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