This paper will describe the results of a study to assess the ability of 15 participating GCMs to simulate the tropical intraseasonal oscillation. Time series of the daily upper tropospheric velocity potential and zonal wind, averaged over the equatorial belt, were provided from each GCM. These data were analyzed using a variety of techniques such as time filtering and space-time spectral analysis to identify eastward and westward moving waves. The results have been compared with an identical assessment of ECMWF analyses for the period 1982-1991.
The models display a wide range of skill in simulating the intraseasonal oscillation. Most models show evidence of an eastward propagating anomaly in the velocity potential field, although in some models there is a greater tendency for a standing oscillation, and in one or two the field is rather chaotic with no preferred direction of propagation. Where a model has a clear eastward propagating signal, typical periodicities seem quite reasonable although there is a tendency for the models to simulate shorter periods than in the ECMWF analyses, where it is near 50 days. The results of the space-time spectral analysis have shown that no model has captured the dominance of the intraseasonal oscillation in the analyses. Several models have peaks at intraseasonal time scales, but nearly all have relatively more power at higher frequencies (<30 days) than the analyses. Most models underestimate the strength of the intraseasonal variability.
The observed intraseasonal oscillation shows a marked seasonality in its occurrence with greatest activity during northern winter and spring. Most models failed to capture this seasonality. The interannual variability in the activity of the intraseasonal oscillation has also been assessed, although the AMIP decade is to short to provide any conclusive results. There is a suggestion that the observed oscillation is suppressed during an El Niño, and this relationship is also reproduced by some models.
The relationship between a model's intraseasonal activity, its seasonal
cycle and characteristics of its basic climate has been examined. It is
clear that those models with weak intraseasonal activity tend also to have
a weak seasonal cycle. It is becoming increasingly evident that an accurate
description of the basic climate may be a prerequisite for producing a
realistic intraseasonal oscillation. In particular, models with the most
realistic intraseasonal oscillations appear to have precipitation distributions
which are well correlated with warm sea surface temperatures. These models
predominantly employ convective parameterizations which are closed on buoyancy
rather than moisture convergence.