The impact of global warming–induced intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) narrowing onto the higher-latitude circulation is examined in the GFDL Atmospheric Model, version 2.1 (AM2.1), run over zonally symmetric aquaplanet boundary conditions. A striking reconfiguration of the deep tropical precipitation from double-peaked, off-equatorial ascent to a single peak at the equator occurs under a globally uniform +4 K sea surface temperature (SST) perturbation. This response is found to be highly sensitive to the SST profile used to force the model. By making small (≤1 K) perturbations to the surface temperature in the deep tropics, varying control simulation precipitation patterns with both single and double ITCZs are generated. Across the climatologies, narrower regions of ascent correspond to more equatorward Hadley cell edges and eddy-driven jets. Under the global warming perturbation, the experiments in which there is narrowing of the ITCZ show significantly less expansion of the Hadley cell and somewhat less poleward shift of the eddy-driven jet than those without ITCZ narrowing. With a narrower ITCZ, the ascending air has larger zonal momentum, causing more westerly upper-tropospheric subtropical wind. In turn, this implies 1) the subtropical jet will become baroclinically unstable at a lower latitude and 2) the critical (zero wind) line will shift equatorward, allowing midlatitude eddies to propagate farther equatorward. Both of these mechanisms modify the Hadley cell edge position, and the latter affects the jet position.
Future emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere are projected to result in significant circulation changes. One of the most important changes is the widening of the tropical belt, which has great societal impacts. Several mechanisms (changes in surface temperature, eddy phase speed, tropopause height, and static stability) have been proposed to explain this widening. However, the coupling between these mechanisms has precluded elucidating their relative importance. Here, the abrupt quadrupled-CO2simulations of phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) are used to examine the proposed mechanisms. The different time responses of the different mechanisms allow us to disentangle and evaluate them. As suggested by earlier studies, the Hadley cell edge is found to be linked to changes in subtropical baroclinicity. In particular, its poleward shift is accompanied by an increase in subtropical static stability (i.e., a decrease in temperature lapse rate) with increased CO2concentrations. These subtropical changes also affect the eddy momentum flux, which shifts poleward together with the Hadley cell edge. Transient changes in tropopause height, eddy phase speed, and surface temperature, however, were found not to accompany the poleward shift of the Hadley cell edge. The widening of the Hadley cell, together with the increase in moisture content, accounts for most of the expansion of the dry zone. Eddy moisture fluxes, on the other hand, are found to play a minor role in the expansion of the dry zone.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- American Meteorological Society
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Climate
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- p. 859-875
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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