Exploration of Atmosphere-Only Model Deficiencies in Reproducing the 1992–2011 Pacific Trade Wind Acceleration

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A robust simulation of tropical Pacific Ocean decadal-scale zonal wind stress trends can increase the confidence in projections of global surface temperature and regional sea level rise, yet coupled general circulation models simulate weaker trends than observed. When forced with observed sea surface temperatures, the atmospheric component of these models still simulates a weaker zonal wind stress trend during 1992–2008 (and 1992–2011) than observed. Yet, this decadal wind trend bias is not evident at the 850 hPa level. We show that the modelled wind trend bias is related to deficiencies in monthly wind stress variability. Furthermore, the strength of the connectivity between the surface and 850 hPa was also an indicator of the wind stress trend. Models that simulated a more realistic wind stress trend tend to simulate a stronger Pacific zonal sea level pressure gradient intensification than observed and a South Pacific Convergence Zone shift like that observed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022GL099981
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sept 2022


  • boundary layer
  • El Nino
  • ENSO
  • La Nina
  • Pacific decadal variability
  • tropical Pacific

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