Caldeira Lab

The Frequency Response of Temperature and Precipitation In a Climate Model

Douglas MacMynowski, Ho-Jeong Shin & Ken Caldeira


MacMynowski, D. G., H.-J. Shin, and K. Caldeira, 2011: The frequency response of temperature and precipitation in a climate model. Geophysical Research Letters, 38, doi:10.1029/2011GL048623.


Doug MacMynowski - click to read the video transcript

Ken Caldeira - click to read the video transcript



 Dynamic aspects of the climate's response to forcing are typically explored through transient simulations in the time domain. However, because of the large range of time-scales involved, some features are more easily observed in the frequency domain. We compute the frequency-response of the HadCM3L general circulation model (GCM) to sinusoidal perturbations in solar radiative forcing, with periods between 2−1/2 and 29 (512) years. The global mean temperature response decreases with increasing frequency, and the frequency scaling at time-scales longer than one year is consistent with the behavior of diffusion into a semi-infinite slab. The land-sea contrast and land-averaged precipitation, however, exhibit relatively little dependency on the frequency of the imposed perturbation, with significant response at both short and long periods. Understanding these relative characteristics of different climate variables in the frequency domain is important to understanding the transient response of the climate system to both anthropogenic and natural (e.g., volcanic) forcings; the frequency response is also relevant in understanding the spectrum of natural variability.