Resolving and Parameterising the Ocean Mesoscale in Earth System Models

Helene T. Hewitt, Malcolm Roberts, Pierre Mathiot, Arne Biastoch, Ed Blockley, Eric P. Chassignet, Baylor Fox-Kemper, Pat Hyder, David P. Marshall, Ekaterina Popova, Anne Marie Treguier, Laure Zanna, Andrew Yool, Yongqiang Yu, Rebecca Beadling, Mike Bell, Till Kuhlbrodt, Thomas Arsouze, Alessio Bellucci, Fred CastruccioBolan Gan, Dian Putrasahan, Christopher D. Roberts, Luke Van Roekel, Qiuying Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


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. Summary: 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-152
Number of pages16
JournalCurrent Climate Change Reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Mesoscale
  • Ocean models
  • Parameterisation
  • Resolution
  • Submesoscale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


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