Dynamic downscaling of seasonal simulations over South America

Vasubandhu Misra, Paul A. Dirmeyer, Ben P. Kirtman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


In this paper multiple atmospheric global circulation model (AGCM) integrations at T42 spectral truncation and prescribed sea surface temperature were used to drive regional spectral model (RSM) simulations at 80-km resolution for the austral summer season (January-February-March). Relative to the AGCM, the RSM improves the ensemble mean simulation of precipitation and the lower- and upper-level tropospheric circulation over both tropical and subtropical South America and the neighboring ocean basins. It is also seen that the RSM exacerbates the dry bias over the northern tip of South America and the Nordeste region, and perpetuates the erroneous split intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) over both the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean basins from the AGCM. The RSM at 80-km horizontal resolution is able to reasonably resolve the Altiplano plateau. This led to an improvement in the mean precipitation over the plateau. The improved resolution orography in the RSM did not substantially change the predictability of the precipitation, surface fluxes, or upper- and lower-level winds in the vicinity of the Andes Mountains from the AGCM. In spite of identical convective and land surface parameterization schemes, the diagnostic quantities, such as precipitation and surface fluxes, show significant differences in the intramodel variability over oceans and certain parts of the Amazon River basin (ARB). However, the prognostic variables of the models exhibit relatively similar model noise structures and magnitude. This suggests that the model physics are in large part responsible for the divergence of the solutions in the two models. However, the surface temperature and fluxes from the land surface scheme of the model [Simplified Simple Biosphere scheme (SSiB)] display comparable intramodel variability, except over certain parts of ARB in the two models. This suggests a certain resilience of predictability in SSiB (over the chosen domain of study) to variations in horizontal resolution. It is seen in this study that the summer precipitation over tropical and subtropical South America is highly unpredictable in both models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-117
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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