The ICON Earth System Model version 1.0


This work documents the ICON-Earth System Model (ICON-ESM V1.0), the first coupled model based on the ICON (ICOsahedral Non-hydrostatic) framework with its unstructured, icosahedral grid concept. The ICON-A atmosphere uses a nonhydrostatic dynamical core and the ocean model ICON-O builds on the same ICON infrastructure, but applies the Boussinesq and hydrostatic approximation and includes a sea-ice model. The ICON-Land module provides a new framework for the modeling of land processes and the terrestrial carbon cycle. The oceanic carbon cycle and biogeochemistry are represented by the Hamburg Ocean Carbon Cycle module. We describe the tuning and spin-up of a base-line version at a resolution typical for models participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP). The performance of ICON-ESM is assessed by means of a set of standard CMIP6 simulations. Achievements are well-balanced top-of-atmosphere radiation, stable key climate quantities in the control simulation, and a good representation of the historical surface temperature evolution. The model has overall biases, which are comparable to those of other CMIP models, but ICON-ESM performs less well than its predecessor, the Max Planck Institute Earth System Model. Problematic biases are diagnosed in ICON-ESM in the vertical cloud distribution and the mean zonal wind field. In the ocean, sub-surface temperature and salinity biases are of concern as is a too strong seasonal cycle of the sea-ice cover in both hemispheres. ICON-ESM V1.0 serves as a basis for further developments that will take advantage of ICON-specific properties such as spatially varying resolution, and configurations at very high resolution.
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