skip to main content

Title: Projected Changes in Daily Variability and Seasonal Cycle of Near-Surface Air Temperature over the Globe during the Twenty-First Century

Increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases will not only raise Earth’s temperature but may also change its variability and seasonal cycle. Here CMIP5 model data are analyzed to quantify these changes in surface air temperature (Tas) and investigate the underlying processes. The models capture well the mean Tas seasonal cycle and variability and their changes in reanalysis, which shows decreasing Tas seasonal amplitudes and variability over the Arctic and Southern Ocean from 1979 to 2017. Daily Tas variability and seasonal amplitude are projected to decrease in the twenty-first century at high latitudes (except for boreal summer when Tas variability increases) but increase at low latitudes. The day of the maximum or minimum Tas shows large delays over high-latitude oceans, while it changes little at low latitudes. These Tas changes at high latitudes are linked to the polar amplification of warming and sea ice loss, which cause larger warming in winter than summer due to extra heating from the ocean during the cold season. Reduced sea ice cover also decreases its ability to cause Tas variations, contributing to the decreased Tas variability at high latitudes. Over low–midlatitude oceans, larger increases in surface evaporation in winter than summer (due to strong winter winds, strengthened winter winds in the Southern Hemisphere, and increased winter surface humidity gradients over the Northern Hemisphere low latitudes), coupled with strong ocean mixing in winter, lead to smaller surface warming in winter than summer and thus increased seasonal amplitudes there. These changes result in narrower (wider) Tas distributions over the high (low) latitudes, which may have important implications for other related fields.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
1743738 1353740
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
American Meteorological Society
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Climate
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 8537-8561
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Keynote points • Thermal expansion from a warming ocean and land ice melt are the main causes of the accelerating global rise in the mean sea level. • Global warming is also affecting many circulation systems. The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation has already weakened and will most likely continue to do so in the future. The impacts of ocean circulation changes include a regional rise in sea levels, changes in the nutrient distribution and carbon uptake of the ocean and feedbacks with the atmosphere, such as altering the distribution of precipitation. • More than 90 per cent of the heat from global warming is stored in the global ocean. Oceans have exhibited robust warming since the 1950s from the surface to a depth of 2,000 m. The proportion of ocean heat content has more than doubled since the 1990s compared with long-term trends. Ocean warming can be seen in most of the global ocean, with a few regions exhibiting long-term cooling. • The ocean shows a marked pattern of salinity changes in multidecadal observations, with surface and subsurface patterns providing clear evidence of a water cycle amplification over the ocean. That is manifested in enhanced salinities in the near-surface, high-salinity subtropical regions and freshening in the low-salinity regions such as the West Pacific Warm Pool and the poles. • An increase in atmospheric CO2 levels, and a subsequent increase in carbon in the oceans, has changed the chemistry of the oceans to include changes to pH and aragonite saturation. A more carbon-enriched marine environment, especially when coupled with other environmental stressors, has been demonstrated through field studies and experiments to have negative impacts on a wide range of organisms, in particular those that form calcium carbonate shells, and alter biodiversity and ecosystem structure. • Decades of oxygen observations allow for robust trend analyses. Long-term measurements have shown decreases in dissolved oxygen concentrations for most ocean regions and the expansion of oxygen-depleted zones. A temperature-driven solubility decrease is responsible for most near-surface oxygen loss, though oxygen decrease is not limited to the upper ocean and is present throughout the water column in many areas. • Total sea ice extent has been declining rapidly in the Arctic, but trends are insignificant in the Antarctic. In the Arctic, the summer trends are most striking in the Pacific sector of the Arctic Ocean, while, in the Antarctic, the summer trends show increases in the Weddell Sea and decreases in the West Antarctic sector of the Southern Ocean. Variations in sea ice extent result from changes in wind and ocean currents. 
    more » « less
  2. Monthly-mean data of ERA-Interim reanalysis, precipitation, outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) and sea surface temperature(SST) are investigated for 40 years (1979-2018) to reveal the modulation of the global monsoon systems by the equatorial quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO), focusing only on the neutral El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) periods (in total 374 months). First, the climatology of the global monsoon systems is viewed with longitude-latitude plots of the precipitation, its proxies and lower tropospheric circulations for the annual mean and two solstice seasons, together with the composite differences between the two seasons. In addition to seasonal variations of Intertropical Convergence Zones (ITCZs), several regional monsoon systems are well identified with an anti-phase of the annual cycle between the two hemispheres. Precipitation-related quantities (OLR and specific humidity), surface conditions [i.e., mean sea level pressure (MSLP) and SST] and circulation fields related to moist convection systems show fundamental features of the global monsoon systems. After introducing eight QBO phases based on the leading two principal components of the zonal-mean zonal wind variations in the equatorial lower-stratosphere, the statistical significance of the composite difference in the precipitation and tropospheric circulation is evaluated for the opposite QBO phases. The composite differences show significant modulations in some regional monsoon systems, dominated by zonally asymmetric components, with the largest magnitudes for specific QBO-phases corresponding to traditional indices of the equatorial zonal-mean zonal wind at 20 and 50 hPa. Along the equator, significant QBO influence is characterized by the modulation of the Walker circulation over the western Pacific. In middle latitudes during boreal summer, for a specific QBO-phase, statistically significant modulation of low-pressure cyclonic perturbation is obtained over the Northern-Hemisphere western Pacific Ocean associated with statistically significant features of heavier precipitation over the eastern side of the cyclonic perturbation and the opposite lighter precipitation over the western side. During boreal winter, similar significant low-pressure cyclonic perturbations were found over the Northern-Hemisphere eastern Pacific and Atlantic Oceans for specific phases.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Strengthened by polar amplification, Arctic warming provides direct evidence for global climate change. This analysis shows how Arctic surface air temperature (SAT) extremes have changed throughout time. Using ERA5, we demonstrate a pan-Arctic (>60°N) significant upward SAT trend of +0.62°C decade−1since 1979. Due to this warming, the warmest days of each month in the 1980s to 1990s would be considered average today, while the present coldest days would be regarded as normal in the 1980s to 1990s. Over 1979–2021, there was a 2°C (or 7%) reduction of pan-Arctic SAT seasonal cycle, which resulted in warming of the cold SAT extremes by a factor of 2 relative to the SAT trend and dampened trends of the warm SAT extremes by roughly 25%. Since 1979, autumn has seen the strongest increasing trends in daily maximum and minimum temperatures, as well as counts of days with SAT above the 90th percentile and decreasing trends in counts of days with SAT below the 10th percentile, consistent with rapid Arctic sea ice decline and enhanced air–ocean heat fluxes. The modulated SAT seasonal signal has a significant impact on the timing of extremely strong monthly cold and warm spells. The dampening of the SAT seasonal fluctuations is likely to continue to increase as more sea ice melts and upper-ocean warming persists. As a result, the Arctic winter cold SAT extremes may continue to exhibit a faster rate of change than that of the summer warm SAT extremes as the Arctic continues to warm.

    Significance Statement

    As a result of global warming, the Arctic Ocean’s sea ice is receding, exposing more and more areas to air–sea interactions. This reduces the range of seasonal changes in Arctic surface air temperatures (SAT). Since 1979, the reduced seasonal SAT signal has decreased the trend of warm SAT extremes by 25% over the background warming trend and doubled the trend of cold SAT extremes relative to SAT trends. A substantial number of warm and cold spells would not have been identified as exceptional if the reduction of the Arctic SAT seasonal amplitudes had not been taken into account. As the Arctic continues to warm and sea ice continues to diminish, seasonal SAT fluctuations will become more dampened, with the rate of decreasing winter SAT extremes exceeding the rate of increasing summer SAT extremes.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    The Bering Strait oceanic heat transport influences seasonal sea ice retreat and advance in the Chukchi Sea. Monitored since 1990, it depends on water temperature and factors controlling the volume transport, assumed to be local winds in the strait and an oceanic pressure difference between the Pacific and Arctic oceans (the “pressure head”). Recent work suggests that variability in the pressure head, especially during summer, relates to the strength of the zonal wind in the East Siberian Sea that raises or drops sea surface height in this area via Ekman transport. We confirm that westward winds in the East Siberian Sea relate to a broader central Arctic pattern of high sea level pressure and note that anticyclonic winds over the central Arctic Ocean also favor low September sea ice extent for the Arctic as a whole by promoting ice convergence and positive temperature anomalies. Month‐to‐month persistence in the volume transport and atmospheric circulation patterns is low, but the period 1980–2017 had a significant summertime (June–August) trend toward higher sea level pressure over the central Arctic Ocean, favoring increased transports. Some recent large heat transports are associated with high water temperatures, consistent with persistence of open water in the Chukchi Sea into winter and early ice retreat in spring. The highest heat transport recorded, October 2016, resulted from high water temperatures and ideal wind conditions yielding a record‐high volume transport. November and December 2005, the only months with southward volume (and thus heat) transports, were associated with southward winds in the strait.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Warm and dry föhn winds on the Antarctic Peninsula (AP) cause surface melt that can destabilize vulnerable ice shelves. Topographic funneling of these downslope winds through mountain passes and canyons can produce localized wind‐induced melt that is difficult to quantify without direct measurements. Our Föhn Detection Algorithm (FöhnDA) identifies the surface föhn signature that causes melt from measurement by 12 Automatic Weather Stations on the AP, that train a machine learning model to detect föhn in 5 km Regional Atmospheric Climate Model 2 (RACMO2.3p2) simulations and in the ERA5 reanalysis model. We estimate the fraction of AP surface melt attributed to föhn and possibly katabatic winds and identify the drivers of melt, temporal variability, and long‐term trends and evolution from 1979–2018. We find that föhn wind‐induced melt accounts for 3.1% of the total melt on the AP and can be as high at 18% close to the mountains where the winds funnel through mountain canyons. Föhn‐induced surface melt does not significantly increase from 1979–2018, despite a warmer atmosphere and more positive Southern Annular Mode. However, a significant increase (+0.1 Gt y‐1) and subsequent decrease/stabilization occur in 1979–1998 and 1999–2018, consistent with the AP warming and cooling trends during the same time periods. Föhn occurrence, more than föhn strength, drives the annual variability in föhn‐induced melt. Long‐term föhn‐induced melt trends and evolution are attributable to seasonal changes in föhn occurrence, with increased occurrence in summer, and decreased occurrence in fall, winter, and early spring over the past 20 years.

    more » « less