GFDL's CM2 global coupled climate models. Part I: Formulation and simulation characteristics

Thomas L. Delworth, Anthony J. Broccoli, Anthony Rosati, Ronald J. Stouffer, V. Balaji, John A. Beesley, William F. Cooke, Keith W. Dixon, John Dunne, K. A. Dunne, Jeffrey W. Durachta, Kirsten L. Findell, Paul Ginoux, Anand Gnanadesikan, C. T. Gordon, Stephen M. Griffies, Rich Gudgel, Matthew J. Harrison, Isaac M. Held, Richard S. HemlerLarry W. Horowitz, Stephen A. Klein, Thomas R. Knutson, Paul J. Kushner, Amy R. Langenhorst, Hyun Chul Lee, Shian Jiann Lin, Jian Lu, Sergey L. Malyshev, P. C.D. Milly, V. Ramaswamy, Joellen Russell, M. Daniel Schwarzkopf, Elena Shevliakova, Joseph J. Sirutis, Michael J. Spelman, William F. Stern, Michael Winton, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Bruce Wyman, Fanrong Zeng, Rong Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1422 Scopus citations


The formulation and simulation characteristics of two new global coupled climate models developed at NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) are described. The models were designed to simulate atmospheric and oceanic climate and variability from the diurnal time scale through multicentury climate change, given our computational constraints. In particular, an important goal was to use the same model for both experimental seasonal to interannual forecasting and the study of multicentury global climate change, and this goal has been achieved. Tw o versions of the coupled model are described, called CM2.0 and CM2.1. The versions differ primarily in the dynamical core used in the atmospheric component, along with the cloud tuning and some details of the land and ocean components. For both coupled models, the resolution of the land and atmospheric components is 2° latitude × 2.5° longitude; the atmospheric model has 24 vertical levels. The ocean resolution is 1° in latitude and longitude, with meridional resolution equatorward of 30° becoming progressively finer, such that the meridional resolution is 1/3° at the equator. There are 50 vertical levels in the ocean, with 22 evenly spaced levels within the top 220 m. The ocean component has poles over North America and Eurasia to avoid polar filtering. Neither coupled model employs flux adjustments. The co ntrol simulations have stable, realistic climates when integrated over multiple centuries. Both models have simulations of ENSO that are substantially improved relative to previous GFDL coupled models. The CM2.0 model has been further evaluated as an ENSO forecast model and has good skill (CM2.1 has not been evaluated as an ENSO forecast model). Generally reduced temperature and salinity biases exist in CM2.1 relative to CM2.0. These reductions are associated with 1) improved simulations of surface wind stress in CM2.1 and associated changes in oceanic gyre circulations; 2) changes in cloud tuning and the land model, both of which act to increase the net surface shortwave radiation in CM2.1, thereby reducing an overall cold bias present in CM2.0; and 3) a reduction of ocean lateral viscosity in the extratropics in CM2.1, which reduces sea ice biases in the North Atlantic. Both models have be en used to conduct a suite of climate change simulations for the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report and are able to simulate the main features of the observed warming of the twentieth century. The climate sensitivities of the CM2.0 and CM2.1 models are 2.9 and 3.4 K, respectively. These sensitivities are defined by coupling the atmospheric components of CM2.0 and CM2.1 to a slab ocean model and allowing the model to come into equilibrium with a doubling of atmospheric CO2. The output from a suite of integrations conducted with these models is freely available online (see

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)643-674
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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