The AWI Climate Model (AWI-CM)

The AWI Climate Model (AWI-CM) consists of the atmospheric model ECHAM6, developed at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, and the Finite Element Sea ice-Ocean Model (FESOM), version 1.4 (link to this website!). FESOM and ECHAM6 are coupled every via the OASIS3-MCT coupler (Fig. 1).

Overall, in its low-resolution reference setup (Fig. 2), AWI-CM realistically simulates many aspects of the observed climate under constant present-day (1990) conditions. .More specifically, it is found that AWI-CM performs at least as well as some of the most sophisticated climate models participating in the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (Sidorenko et al., 2015). Regarding the simulated climate variability,AWI-CM also performs overall favourably compared to those models (Rackow et al.,2016). Internal variations of the global mean surface temperature in the model are consistent with observed fluctuations and suggest that the recent warming slowdown can be explained as a once-in-one-hundred-years event caused by internal climate variability.

Common atmospheric and oceanic variability patterns (e.g., the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation, AMO, and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, PDO) are simulated largely consistent with their real counterparts. Specifically, the coupled El Nino-Southern Oscillation phenomenon is particularly well simulated in AWI-CM with locally refined oceanic resolution of approx. 0.25° (Rackow et al.,2016), illustrating the potential of the novel unstructured-mesh method for global climate modeling.

Typical deficits that are known from other models at similar resolutions remain, in particular too weak non-seasonal variability of SSTs over large parts of the ocean (Fig. 3) and episodic periods of almost absent deep-water formation in the Labrador Sea, resulting in overestimated North Atlantic SST variability.


We presented first evidence to correct the surface temperature biases (both mean and variability) by using locally eddy-resolving meshes (Sein et al., 2016, Sein et al. 2017, submitted). Here, the question is: What is the most efficient way of using model resolution, while keeping the total cost at a level that is affordable for climate simulations? We propose to base the spatial resolution on the observed eddy-variability pattern, but our group will further elaborate this approach to reach an even better efficiency.

The new ocean grids are already applied in the latest AWI-CM versions in medium and high resolution (MR and HR, respectively) and form the basis for AWI’s running CMIP6 simulations.

Code availability

The source code of the model available from the AWI based svn repository. One has to register at AWIForge system and send request to join AWI-CM project. 

AWI-CM source code 

Key publications

Sidorenko, D., Rackow, T., Jung, T., Semmler, T., Barbi ,D., Danilov, S., Dethloff ,K., Dorn, W., Fieg, K., Goessling, H. F., Handorf, D., Harig, S.,  Hiller, W.,  Juricke, S., Losch, M.,  Schröter, J.,  Sein,  D. V., Wang, Q. 2015. Towards multi-resolution global climate modeling with ECHAM6–FESOM. Part I: model formulation and mean climate. Climate Dynamics44(3-4), pp.757-780.

Rackow, T., Goessling, H.F., Jung, T., Sidorenko, D., Semmler, T., Barbi, D. and Handorf, D., 2016. Towards multi-resolution global climate modeling with ECHAM6-FESOM. Part II: climate variability. Climate Dynamics, pp.1-26.