During the Tropical Ocean-Global Atmosphere (TOGA) program substantial progress was made in the development of coupled general circulation models with regard to representation of the tropical mean state and climate variability. This paper provides a review of the main developments, focusing on the tropical Pacific region. Early coupled general circulation models were relatively crude; with coarse resolution and limited physical parameterizations and poor surface fluxes, the model drift from the observed mean state was often substantial, and their use for investigating climate variability such as El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) was limited. Improvements in resolution and parameterizations led to rapid progress. Through the TOGA program it has been possible to assess coupled model mean state and variability against high quality observations, particularly for the tropical Pacific. Both components of the coupled system (ocean and atmosphere) have benefited from an improved understanding of the physics. Coupled experiments have revealed deficiencies in each model component that were concealed in separate forced runs. Several general systematic errors have yet to be eliminated, especially in the east Pacific. The variety of behavior obtained with coupled models provides evidence that more than one mechanism is active in the generation and evolution of ENSO events. There are also indications that interannual variability is linked to the mean structure of the equatorial Pacific.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science
- Atmospheric Science
- Astronomy and Astrophysics