Resolving and Parameterising the Ocean Mesoscale in Earth System Models

Type Article
Date 2020-12
Language English
Author(s) Hewitt Helene T.1, Roberts Malcolm1, Mathiot Pierre1, Biastoch Arne2, Blockley Ed1, Chassignet Eric P.3, Fox-Kemper Baylor4, Hyder Pat1, Marshall David P.5, Popova Ekaterina6, Treguier Anne-Marie7, Zanna Laure8, Yool Andrew6, Yu Yongqiang9, 10, Beadling Rebecca11, Bell Mike1, Kuhlbrodt Till12, Arsouze Thomas13, Bellucci Alessio14, Castruccio Fred15, 16, Gan Bolan16, 17, Putrasahan Dian18, Roberts Christopher D.19, Van Roekel Luke20, Zhang Qiuying16
Affiliation(s) 1 : Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road, Exeter, UK
2 : GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Kiel University, Kiel, Germany
3 : Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA
4 : Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA
5 : Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
6 : National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK
7 : CNRS, IRD, Ifremer, Laboratoire d’Océanographie Physique et Spatiale (LOPS), IUEM, Univ. Brest, Brest, France
8 : Courant Institute, New York University, New York, NY, USA
9 : LASG, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 10029, China
10 : University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100039, China
11 : Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
12 : National Centre for Atmospheric Science, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
13 : Barcelona Supercomputing Center - Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC), Barcelona, Spain
14 : Fondazione Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici (CMCC), Bologna, Italy
15 : National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, CO, USA
16 : International Laboratory for High Resolution Earth System Prediction (iHESP), College Station, TX, USA
17 : Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science (QNLM), Qingdao, China
18 : Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
19 : European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), Reading, UK
20 : T-3 Solid Mechanics and Fluid Dynamics, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM, USA
21 : Texas A&M University (TAMU), College Station, TX, USA
Source Current Climate Change Reports (2198-6061) (Springer Science and Business Media LLC), 2020-12 , Vol. 6 , N. 4 , P. 137-152
DOI 10.1007/s40641-020-00164-w
WOS© Times Cited 53
Note Part of a collection: Topical Collection on Advances and Future Directions in Earth System Modelling
Keyword(s) Ocean models, Resolution, Parameterisation, Mesoscale, Submesoscale

Purpose of Review

Assessment of the impact of ocean resolution in Earth System models on the mean state, variability, and future projections and discussion of prospects for improved parameterisations to represent the ocean mesoscale.

Recent Findings

The majority of centres participating in CMIP6 employ ocean components with resolutions of about 1 degree in their full Earth System models (eddy-parameterising models). In contrast, there are also models submitted to CMIP6 (both DECK and HighResMIP) that employ ocean components of approximately 1/4 degree and 1/10 degree (eddy-present and eddy-rich models). Evidence to date suggests that whether the ocean mesoscale is explicitly represented or parameterised affects not only the mean state of the ocean but also the climate variability and the future climate response, particularly in terms of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) and the Southern Ocean. Recent developments in scale-aware parameterisations of the mesoscale are being developed and will be included in future Earth System models.


Although the choice of ocean resolution in Earth System models will always be limited by computational considerations, for the foreseeable future, this choice is likely to affect projections of climate variability and change as well as other aspects of the Earth System. Future Earth System models will be able to choose increased ocean resolution and/or improved parameterisation of processes to capture physical processes with greater fidelity.

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Hewitt Helene T., Roberts Malcolm, Mathiot Pierre, Biastoch Arne, Blockley Ed, Chassignet Eric P., Fox-Kemper Baylor, Hyder Pat, Marshall David P., Popova Ekaterina, Treguier Anne-Marie, Zanna Laure, Yool Andrew, Yu Yongqiang, Beadling Rebecca, Bell Mike, Kuhlbrodt Till, Arsouze Thomas, Bellucci Alessio, Castruccio Fred, Gan Bolan, Putrasahan Dian, Roberts Christopher D., Van Roekel Luke, Zhang Qiuying (2020). Resolving and Parameterising the Ocean Mesoscale in Earth System Models. Current Climate Change Reports, 6(4), 137-152. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :