An Evaluation of Northern Australian Wet Season Rainfall Bursts in CMIP5 Models

The simulation of northern Australian wet season rainfall bursts by coupled climate models is evaluated. Individual models produce vastly different amounts of precipitation over the north of Australia during the wet season, and this is found to be related to the number of bursts they produce. The seasonal cycle of bursts is found to be poor in most of the models evaluated. It is known that northern Australian wet season bursts are often associated with midlatitude Rossby wave packets and their surface signature as they are refracted toward the tropics. The relationship between midlatitude waves and the initiation of wet season bursts is simulated well by the models evaluated. Another well-documented influence on the initiation of northern Australian wet season bursts is the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). No model adequately simulated the tropical outgoing longwave radiation temporal–spatial patterns seen in the reanalysis-derived OLR. This result suggests that the connection between the MJO and the initiation of northern Australian wet season bursts in models is poor.