skip to main content

Title: A Strong Role for the AMOC in Partitioning Global Energy Transport and Shifting ITCZ Position in Response to Latitudinally Discrete Solar Forcing in CESM1.2

Ocean circulation responses to interhemispheric radiative imbalance can damp north–south migrations of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) by reducing the burden on atmospheric energy transport. The role of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) in such dynamics has not received much attention. Here, we present coupled climate modeling results that suggest AMOC responses are of first-order importance to muting ITCZ shift magnitudes as a pair of hemispherically asymmetric solar forcing bands is moved from equatorial to polar latitudes. The cross-equatorial energy transport response to the same amount of interhemispheric forcing becomes systematically more ocean-centric when higher latitudes are perturbed in association with strengthening AMOC responses. In contrast, the responses of the Pacific subtropical cell are not monotonic and cannot predict this variance in the ITCZ’s equilibrium position. Overall, these results highlight the importance of the meridional distribution of interhemispheric radiative imbalance and the rich buffering of internal feedbacks that occurs in dynamic versus thermodynamic (slab) ocean modeling experiments. Mostly, the results imply that the problem of developing a theory of ITCZ migration is entangled with that of understanding the AMOC’s response to hemispherically asymmetric radiative forcing—a difficult topic deserving of focused analysis across more climate models.

more » « less
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
American Meteorological Society
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Climate
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 2207-2226
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Cross-equatorial ocean heat transport (OHT) changes have been found to damp meridional shifts of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) induced by hemispheric asymmetries in radiative forcing. Zonal-mean energy transport theories and idealized model simulations have suggested that these OHT changes occur primarily due to wind-driven changes in the Indo-Pacific’s shallow subtropical cells (STCs) and buoyancy-driven changes in the deep Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). In this study we explore the partitioning between buoyancy and momentum forcing in the ocean’s response. We adjust the top-of-atmosphere solar forcing to cool the Northern Hemisphere (NH) extratropics in a novel set of comprehensive climate model simulations designed to isolate buoyancy-forced and momentum-forced changes. In this case of NH high-latitude forcing, we confirm that buoyancy-driven changes in the AMOC dominate in the Atlantic. However, in contrast with prior expectations, buoyancy-driven changes in the STCs are the primary driver of the heat transport changes in the Indo-Pacific. We find that buoyancy-forced Indo-Pacific STC changes transport nearly 4 times the amount of heat across the equator as the shallower wind-driven STC changes. This buoyancy-forced STC response arises from extratropical density perturbations that are amplified by the low cloud feedback and communicated to the tropics by the ventilated thermocline. While the ocean’s specific response is dependent on the forcing scheme, our results suggest that partitioning the ocean’s total response to energy perturbations into buoyancy and momentum forcing provides basin-specific insight into key aspects of how the ocean damps ITCZ migrations that previous zonal-mean frameworks omit. 
    more » « less
  2. 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 Northern 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). 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Tropical climate response to greenhouse warming is to first order symmetric about the equator but climate models disagree on the degree of latitudinal asymmetry of the tropical change. Intermodel spread in equatorial asymmetry of tropical climate response is investigated by using 37 models from phase 6 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). In the simple simulation with CO2increase at 1% per year but without aerosol forcing, this study finds that intermodel spread in tropical asymmetry is tied to that in the extratropical surface heat flux change related to the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) and Southern Ocean sea ice concentration (SIC). AMOC or Southern Ocean SIC change alters net energy flux at the top of the atmosphere and sea surface in one hemisphere and may induce interhemispheric atmospheric energy transport. The negative feedback of the shallow meridional overturning circulation in the tropics and the positive low cloud feedback in the subtropics are also identified. Our results suggest that reducing the intermodel spread in extratropical change can improve the reliability of tropical climate projections.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Biomass burning aerosol (BBA) emissions in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 6 (CMIP6) historical forcing fields have enhanced temporal variability during the years 1997–2014 compared to earlier periods. Recent studies document that the corresponding inhomogeneous shortwave forcing over this period can cause changes in clouds, permafrost, and soil moisture, which contribute to a net terrestrial Northern Hemisphere warming relative to earlier periods. Here, we investigate the ocean response to the hemispherically asymmetric warming, using a 100-member ensemble of the Community Earth System Model version 2 Large Ensemble forced by two different BBA emissions (CMIP6 default and temporally smoothed over 1990–2020). Differences between the two subensemble means show that ocean temperature anomalies occur during periods of high BBA variability and subsequently persist over multiple decades. In the North Atlantic, surface warming is efficiently compensated for by decreased northward oceanic heat transport due to a slowdown of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. In the North Pacific, surface warming is compensated for by an anomalous cross-equatorial cell (CEC) that reduces northward oceanic heat transport. The heat that converges in the South Pacific through the anomalous CEC is shunted into the subsurface and contributes to formation of long-lasting ocean temperature anomalies. The anomalous CEC is maintained through latitude-dependent contributions from narrow western boundary currents and basinwide near-surface Ekman transport. These results indicate that interannual variability in forcing fields may significantly change the background climate state over long time scales, presenting a potential uncertainty in CMIP6-class climate projections forced without interannual variability.

    more » « less
  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 increases 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. 
    more » « less