skip to main content

Title: ITCZ Width Controls on Hadley Cell Extent and Eddy-Driven Jet Position and Their Response to Warming

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 more » 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.

« less
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Journal of Climate
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 1151-1166
American Meteorological Society
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Land-use and land-cover change (LULCC) is one of the most important forcings affecting climate in the past century. This study evaluates the global and regional LULCC impacts in 1950–2015 by employing an annually updated LULCC map in a coupled land–atmosphere–ocean model. The difference between LULCC and control experiments shows an overall land surface temperature (LST) increase by 0.48 K in the LULCC regions and a widespread LST decrease by 0.18 K outside the LULCC regions. A decomposed temperature metric (DTM) is applied to quantify the relative contribution of surface processes to temperature changes. Furthermore, while precipitation in the LULCC areas is reduced in agreement with declined evaporation, LULCC causes a southward displacement of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) with a narrowing by 0.5°, leading to a tripole anomalous precipitation pattern over the warm pool. The DTM shows that the temperature response in LULCC regions results from the competing effect between increased albedo (cooling) and reduced evaporation (warming). The reduced evaporation indicates less atmospheric latent heat release in convective processes and thus a drier and cooler troposphere, resulting in a reduction in surface cooling outside the LULCC regions. The southward shift of the ITCZ implies a northward cross-equatorial energy transportmore »anomaly in response to reduced latent/sensible heat of the atmosphere in the Northern Hemisphere, where LULCC is more intensive. Tropospheric cooling results in the equatorward shift of the upper-tropospheric westerly jet in both hemispheres, which, in turn, leads to an equatorward narrowing of the Hadley circulation and ITCZ.« less
  2. Abstract While there is substantial evidence for tropospheric jet shift and Hadley cell expansion in response to greenhouse gas increases, quantitative assessments of individual mechanisms and feedback for atmospheric circulation changes remain lacking. We present a new forcing-feedback analysis on circulation response to increasing CO 2 concentration in an aquaplanet atmospheric model. This forcing-feedback framework explicitly identifies a direct zonal wind response by holding the zonal mean zonal wind exerting on the zonal advection of eddies unchanged, in comparison with the additional feedback induced by the direct response in zonal mean zonal wind. It is shown that the zonal advection feedback accounts for nearly half of the changes to the eddy-driven jet shift and Hadley cell expansion, largely contributing to the subtropical precipitation decline, when the CO 2 concentration varies over a range of climates. The direct response in temperature displays the well-known tropospheric warming pattern to CO2 increases, but the feedback exhibits negative signals. The direct response in eddies is characterized by a reduction in upward wave propagation and a poleward shift of midlatitude eddy momentum flux (EMF) convergence, likely due to an increase in static stability from moist thermodynamic adjustment. In contrast, the feedback features a dipole patternmore »in EMF that further shifts and strengthens midlatitude EMF convergence, resulting from the upper-level zonal wind increase seen in the direct response. Interestingly, the direct response produces an increase in eddy kinetic energy (EKE), but the feedback weakens EKE. Thus, the forcing-feedback framework highlights the distinct effect of zonal mean advecting wind from direct thermodynamic effects in atmospheric response to greenhouse gas increases.« less
  3. Abstract. Anthropogenic aerosols (AAs) induce global and regionaltropospheric circulation adjustments due to the radiative energyperturbations. The overall cooling effects of AA, which mask a portion ofglobal warming, have been the subject of many studies but still have largeuncertainty. The interhemispheric contrast in AA forcing has also beendemonstrated to induce a major shift in atmospheric circulation. However,the zonal redistribution of AA emissions since start of the 20th century, with anotable decline in the Western Hemisphere (North America and Europe) and acontinuous increase in the Eastern Hemisphere (South Asia and East Asia),has received less attention. Here we utilize four sets of single-model initial-condition large-ensemblesimulations with various combinations of external forcings to quantify theradiative and circulation responses due to the spatial redistribution of AAforcing during 1980–2020. In particular, we focus on the distinct climateresponses due to fossil-fuel-related (FF) aerosols emitted from the Western Hemisphere (WH) versus the Eastern Hemisphere (EH). The zonal (west to east) redistribution of FF aerosol emission since the1980s leads to a weakening negative radiative forcing over the WHmid-to-high latitudes and an enhancing negative radiative forcing over theEH at lower latitudes. Overall, the FF aerosol leads to a northward shift of the Hadley cell and an equatorward shift of the Northernmore »Hemisphere (NH) jet stream. Here, two sets of regional FF simulations (Fix_EastFF1920and Fix_WestFF1920) are performed to separate the roles ofzonally asymmetric aerosol forcings. We find that the WH aerosol forcing,located in the extratropics, dominates the northward shift of the Hadley cell by inducing an interhemispheric imbalance in radiative forcing. On the other hand, the EH aerosol forcing, located closer to the tropics, dominates the equatorward shift of the NH jet stream. The consistent relationship between the jet stream shift and the top-of-atmosphere net solar flux (FSNTOA) gradient suggests that the latter serves as a rule-of-thumb guidance for the expected shift of the NH jet stream. The surface effect of EH aerosol forcing (mainly from low- to midlatitudes)is confined more locally and only induces weak warming over the northeastern Pacific and North Atlantic. In contrast, the WH aerosol reduction leads to a large-scale warming over NH mid-to-high latitudes that largely offsets the cooling over the northeastern Pacific due to EH aerosols. The simulated competing roles of regional aerosol forcings in drivingatmospheric circulation and surface temperature responses during the recentdecades highlight the importance of considering zonally asymmetric forcings(west to east) and also their meridional locations within the NH (tropicalvs. extratropical).« less
  4. Abstract There are a myriad of ways atmospheric circulation responds to increased CO 2 . In the troposphere, the region of the tropical upwelling narrows, the Hadley Cells expand, and the upper level subtropical zonal winds that comprise the subtropical jet strengthen. In the stratosphere, the tropical upwelling narrows and strengthens, enhancing the Brewer-Dobson Circulation. Despite the robustness of these projections, dynamical coupling between the features remains unclear. In this study, we analyze output from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) ModelE coupled climate model to examine any connection between the upper tropospheric and lower stratospheric circulation by considering the features’ seasonality, hemispheric asymmetry, scaling, and transient response to a broad range of CO 2 forcings. We find that a narrowing and strengthening of upper tropospheric upwelling occurs with a strengthening of the subtropical jet. There is also a narrowing and strengthening of lower stratospheric upwelling that is related to an equatorward shift in critical latitude for wave breaking and the associated strengthening of the subtropical lower stratosphere’s zonal winds. However, the stratospheric responses display different seasonal, hemispheric, and transient patterns than those in the troposphere, indicating independent circulation changes between the two domains.
  5. Abstract The response of zonal-mean precipitation minus evaporation ( P − E ) to global warming is investigated using a moist energy balance model (MEBM) with a simple Hadley cell parameterization. The MEBM accurately emulates zonal-mean P − E change simulated by a suite of global climate models (GCMs) under greenhouse gas forcing. The MEBM also accounts for most of the intermodel differences in GCM P − E change and better emulates GCM P − E change when compared to the “wet-gets-wetter, dry-gets-drier” thermodynamic mechanism. The intermodel spread in P − E change is attributed to intermodel differences in radiative feedbacks, which account for 60%–70% of the intermodel variance, with smaller contributions from radiative forcing and ocean heat uptake. Isolating the intermodel spread of feedbacks to specific regions shows that tropical feedbacks are the primary source of intermodel spread in zonal-mean P − E change. The ability of the MEBM to emulate GCM P − E change is further investigated using idealized feedback patterns. A less negative and narrowly peaked feedback pattern near the equator results in more atmospheric heating, which strengthens the Hadley cell circulation in the deep tropics through an enhanced poleward heat flux. This pattern also increasesmore »gross moist stability, which weakens the subtropical Hadley cell circulation. These two processes in unison increase P − E in the deep tropics, decrease P − E in the subtropics, and narrow the intertropical convergence zone. Additionally, a feedback pattern that produces polar-amplified warming partially reduces the poleward moisture flux by weakening the meridional temperature gradient. It is shown that changes to the Hadley cell circulation and the poleward moisture flux are crucial for understanding the pattern of GCM P − E change under warming. Significance Statement Changes to the hydrological cycle over the twenty-first century are predicted to impact ecosystems and socioeconomic activities throughout the world. While it is broadly expected that dry regions will get drier and wet regions will get wetter, the magnitude and spatial structure of these changes remains uncertain. In this study, we use an idealized climate model, which assumes how energy is transported in the atmosphere, to understand the processes setting the pattern of precipitation and evaporation under global warming. We first use the idealized climate model to explain why comprehensive climate models predict different changes to precipitation and evaporation across a range of latitudes. We show this arises primarily from climate feedbacks, which act to amplify or dampen the amount of warming. Ocean heat uptake and radiative forcing play secondary roles but can account for a significant amount of the uncertainty in regions where ocean circulation influences the rate of warming. We further show that uncertainty in tropical feedbacks (mainly from clouds) affects changes to the hydrological cycle across a range of latitudes. We then show how the pattern of climate feedbacks affects how the patterns of precipitation and evaporation respond to climate change through a set of idealized experiments. These results show how the pattern of climate feedbacks impacts tropical hydrological changes by affecting the strength of the Hadley circulation and polar hydrological changes by affecting the transport of moisture to the high latitudes.« less