The APE atlas

David, L. Williamson, Michael Blackburn, Brian, J. Hoskins, Kensuke Nakajima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This Atlas presents statistical analyses of the simulations submitted to the Aqua-Planet Experiment (APE) data archive. The simulations are from global Atmospheric General Circulation Models (AGCM) applied to a water-covered earth. The AGCMs include ones actively used or being developed for numerical weather prediction or climate research. Some are mature, application models and others are more novel and thus less well tested in Earth-like applications. The experiment applies AGCMs with their complete parameterization package to an idealization of the planet Earth which has a greatly simplified lower boundary that consists of an ocean only. It has no land and its associated orography, and no sea ice. The ocean is represented by Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) which are specified everywhere with simple, idealized distributions. Thus in the hierarchy of tests available for AGCMs, APE falls between tests with simplified forcings such as those proposed by Held and Suarez (1994) and Boer and Denis (1997) and Earth-like simulations of the Atmospheric Modeling Intercomparison Project (AMIP, Gates et al., 1999). Blackburn and Hoskins (2013) summarize the APE and its aims. They discuss where the APE fits within a modeling hierarchy which has evolved to evaluate complete models and which provides a link between realistic simulation and conceptual models of atmospheric phenomena. The APE bridges a gap in the existing hierarchy. The goals of APE are to provide a benchmark of current model behaviors and to stimulate research to understand the cause of inter-model differences., APE is sponsored by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) joint Commission on Atmospheric Science (CAS), World Climate Research Program (WCRP) Working Group on Numerical Experimentation (WGNE). Chapter 2 of this Atlas provides an overview of the specification of the eight APE experiments and of the data collected. Chapter 3 lists the participating models and includes brief descriptions of each. Chapters 4 through 7 present a wide variety of statistics from the 14 participating models for the eight different experiments. Additional intercomparison figures created by Dr. Yukiko Yamada in AGU group are available at This Atlas is intended to present and compare the statistics of the APE simulations but does not contain a discussion of interpretive analyses. Such analyses are left for journal papers such as those included in the Special Issue of the Journal of the Meteorological Society of Japan (2013, Vol. 91A) devoted to the APE. Two papers in that collection provide an overview of the simulations. One (Blackburn et al., 2013) concentrates on the CONTROL simulation and the other (Williamson et al., 2013) on the response to changes in the meridional SST profile. Additional papers provide more detailed analysis of the basic simulations, while others describe various sensitivities and applications. The APE experiment data base holds a wealth of data that is now publicly available from the APE web site: We hope that this Atlas will stimulate future analyses and investigations to understand the large variation seen in the model behaviors.
Original languageEnglish
Article number31354
JournalNCAR Technical Report
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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