Received: 05 Feb 2014 – Accepted for review: 17 Feb 2014 – Discussion started: 07 Mar 2014
Abstract. Numerical climate models constitute the best available tools to tackle the problem of climate prediction. Two assumptions lie at the heart of their suitability: (1) a climate attractor exists, and (2) the numerical climate model's attractor lies on the actual climate attractor, or at least on the projection of the climate attractor on the model's phase space. In this contribution, the Lorenz '63 system is used both as a prototype system and as an imperfect model to investigate the implications of the second assumption. By comparing results drawn from the Lorenz '63 system and from numerical weather and climate models, the implications of using imperfect models for the prediction of weather and climate are discussed. It is shown that the imperfect model's orbit and the system's orbit are essentially different, purely due to model error and not to sensitivity to initial conditions. Furthermore, if a model is a perfect model, then the attractor, reconstructed by sampling a collection of initialised model orbits (forecast orbits), will be invariant to forecast lead time. This conclusion provides an alternative method for the assessment of climate models.
How to cite. Martínez-Alvarado, O.: Implications of model error for numerical climate prediction, Nonlin. Processes Geophys. Discuss., 1, 131–153, https://doi.org/10.5194/npgd-1-131-2014, 2014.