Atmospheric convective available potential energy (CAPE) is expected to increase under greenhouse gas–induced global warming, but a recent regional study also suggests enhanced convective inhibition (CIN) over land although its cause is not well understood. In this study, a global climate model is first evaluated by comparing its CAPE and CIN with reanalysis data, and then their future changes and the underlying causes are examined. The climate model reasonably captures the present-day CAPE and CIN patterns seen in the reanalysis, and projects increased CAPE almost everywhere and stronger CIN over most land under global warming. Over land, the cases or times with medium to strong CAPE or CIN would increase while cases with weak CAPE or CIN would decrease, leading to an overall strengthening in their mean values. These projected changes are confirmed by convection-permitting 4-km model simulations over the United States. The CAPE increase results mainly from increased low-level specific humidity, which leads to more latent heating and buoyancy for a lifted parcel above the level of free convection (LFC) and also a higher level of neutral buoyancy. The enhanced CIN over most land results mainly from reduced low-level relative humidity (RH), which leads to a higher lifting condensation level and a higher LFC and thus more negative buoyancy. Over tropical oceans, the near-surface RH increases slightly, leading to slight weakening of CIN. Over the subtropical eastern Pacific and Atlantic Ocean, the impact of reduced low-level atmospheric lapse rates overshadows the effect of increased specific humidity, leading to decreased CAPE.
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Climate
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- 7155 to 7178
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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