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We compare CMIP5 SST patterns with those derived from the Centennial in-situ Observation-Based Estimates COBE2 (Hirahara et al. ) to check the consistency over the NA, aiming to use this assessment of the most suitable models as a test-bed for assessing different climate reconstruction techniques used for Arctica islandica in a follow-up study. We focus on the latter half of the twentieth century (1950–1999), a period during which data coverage was substantially more complete than during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Based on the work of Schleussner et al. ( ) and of Wang et al.

( ), 11 CMIP5 models were used in our analysis (Table ) and then compared to the COBE2 data set (Table ) for this 50 year period. For the selection of models we also took into account the horizontal resolution of the oceanic component of the respective Atmosphere–Ocean General Circulation Model (AOGCM). Additionally, we excluded CMIP5 models with known problems in their archived output ( ).

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Reanalysis data Spatial resolution COBE2_SST 1° × 1° The CMIP5 project design includes suites of simulations of past climates, future climates, and shorter-term hindcasts of the last few decades ( ). In this study we used the historical simulations, which are part of the long term coupled simulations and cover most of the industrial period (from the mid-nineteenth century to the beginning of the 21st century) and are sometimes referred to as “20th century” simulations. They are forced by changes in the total solar irradiance, observed atmospheric composition changes (reflecting both anthropogenic and natural sources) and include time-evolving land cover (Taylor et al. The models used in this study, as well as their original spatial and temporal resolution and other relevant information, are listed in Table.

For a better comparison, the models’ original output was re-processed and re-gridded to a regular grid including the reference data sets. In this context the output was re-gridded onto a 1°×1° degree horizontal resolution covering the NA region, between 60°W–30°E and 40°N–70°N, because most ocean models have a resolution of the order of our target grid. In the following, a summary of the main characteristics of the models is presented. 2.1 Models In CCSM4 (Gent et al. ) the atmosphere (CAM4/ Neale et al. ), the land (CLM4/ Lawrence et al. ) and the sea ice components (CICE4/Hunke and Lipscomb ) interchange both state information and fluxes through a coupler in every atmospheric time step.

The fluxes between atmosphere and ocean (POP2/ Danabasoglu et al. ) are calculated in the coupler and communicated to the ocean component once a day. In CSIRO the ice model has been developed in conjunction with the atmospheric model (R21/ Gordon and O’Farrell ).

The atmospheric fluxes are averaged over two steps and passed to the ocean model (modified MOM2.2/ Gordon et al. Land surface interactions are parameterized using a soil–canopy model (Kowalczyk et al. As described in detail in Arora et al. ( ), CanESM2 evolved from the first generation CanESM1. It is composed of atmosphere, ocean, sea ice and carbon cycle models. The calculation of energy and moisture fluxes at the land surface is carried out within the Canadian Land Surface Scheme (CLASS) module (von Salzen et al.