Solar signals in CMIP-5 simulations: Effects of atmosphere-ocean coupling

S. Misios, D. M. Mitchell, L. J. Gray, K. Tourpali, K. Matthes, L. Hood, H. Schmidt, G. Chiodo, R. Thiéblemont, E. Rozanov, A. Krivolutsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The surface response to the 11 year solar cycle is assessed in ensemble simulations of the twentieth century climate performed in the framework of the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Inter-Comparison Project (CMIP5). A lead/lag multiple linear regression analysis identifies a multi-model mean (MMM) global mean surface warming of about 0.07 K, lagging the solar cycle by 1-2 years on average. The anomalous warming penetrates to approximately the first 80-100 m depth in the ocean. Solar signals in the troposphere show a similar time lag of 1-2 years and the strongest MMM warming is simulated in the Tropics above 300 hPa. At the surface, the MMM response in a subset of models that show statistically significant global mean warming (CMIP5-SIG95) is characterized by an anomalous warming in the west equatorial Pacific Ocean and the Arctic, at 1-2 years after solar maximum. The Arctic warming is twice as strong as the global mean response and appears in the winter months only. The surface warming in the equatorial Pacific Ocean is related to dynamical/thermodynamical processes. Different increase rates of global mean precipitation and atmospheric water vapour in response to a warmer surface lead to a weaker Walker circulation and anomalous westerly winds over the equatorial Pacific in the years following the solar maximum. Owing to atmosphere-ocean coupling, the anomalous westerly winds cool the subsurface and warm the surface in the western equatorial Pacific by ∼0.14 K. The CMIP5-SIG95 MMM surface warming in the equatorial Pacific and Arctic is weak but qualitatively similar compared with solar signals in the HadCRUT4 dataset.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)928-941
Number of pages14
JournalQuarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
Issue number695
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • CMIP-5
  • Natural climate variability
  • Solar cycle
  • SolarMIP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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