This content will become publicly available on May 15, 2024
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Climate
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- 3499 to 3522
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Abstract Tropical areas with mean upward motion—and as such the zonal-mean intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ)—are projected to contract under global warming. To understand this process, a simple model based on dry static energy and moisture equations is introduced for zonally symmetric overturning driven by sea surface temperature (SST). Processes governing ascent area fraction and zonal mean precipitation are examined for insight into Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP) simulations. Bulk parameters governing radiative feedbacks and moist static energy transport in the simple model are estimated from the AMIP ensemble. Uniform warming in the simple model produces ascent area contraction and precipitation intensification—similar to observations and climate models. Contributing effects include stronger water vapor radiative feedbacks, weaker cloud-radiative feedbacks, stronger convection-circulation feedbacks, and greater poleward moisture export. The simple model identifies parameters consequential for the inter-AMIP-model spread; an ensemble generated by perturbing parameters governing shortwave water vapor feedbacks and gross moist stability changes under warming tracks inter-AMIP-model variations with a correlation coefficient ∼0.46. The simple model also predicts the multimodel mean changes in tropical ascent area and precipitation with reasonable accuracy. Furthermore, the simple model reproduces relationships among ascent area precipitation, ascent strength, and ascent area fraction observed in AMIP models. A substantial portion of the inter-AMIP-model spread is traced to the spread in how moist static energy and vertical velocity profiles change under warming, which in turn impact the gross moist stability in deep convective regions—highlighting the need for observational constraints on these quantities. Significance Statement A large rainband straddles Earth’s tropics. Most, but not all, climate models predict that this rainband will shrink under global warming; a few models predict an expansion of the rainband. To mitigate some of this uncertainty among climate models, we build a simpler model that only contains the essential physics of rainband narrowing. We find several interconnected processes that are important. For climate models, the most important process is the efficiency with which clouds move heat and humidity out of rainy regions. This efficiency varies among climate models and appears to be a primary reason for why climate models do not agree on the rate of rainband narrowing.more » « less
The polar regions are predicted to experience the largest relative change in precipitation in response to increased greenhouse-gas concentrations, where a substantial absolute increase in precipitation coincides with small precipitation rates in the present-day climate. The reasons for this amplification, however, are still debated. Here, we use an atmospheric energy budget to decompose regional precipitation change from climate models under greenhouse-gas forcing into contributions from atmospheric radiative feedbacks, dry-static energy flux divergence changes, and surface sensible heat flux changes. The polar-amplified relative precipitation change is shown to be a consequence of the Planck feedback, which, when combined with larger polar warming, favors substantial atmospheric radiative cooling that balances increases in latent heat release from precipitation. Changes in the dry-static energy flux divergence contribute modestly to the polar-amplified pattern. Additional contributions to the polar-amplified response come, in the Arctic, from the cloud feedback and, in the Antarctic, from both the cloud and water vapor feedbacks. The primary contributor to the intermodel spread in the relative precipitation change in the polar region is also the Planck feedback, with the lapse rate feedback and dry-static energy flux divergence changes playing secondary roles. For all regions, there are strong covariances between radiative feedbacks and changes in the dry-static energy flux divergence that impact the intermodel spread. These results imply that constraining regional precipitation change, particularly in the polar regions, will require constraining not only individual feedbacks but also the covariances between radiative feedbacks and atmospheric energy transport.
Abstract Under increasing greenhouse gases, the Arctic warms about twice as fast as elsewhere, known as Arctic amplification (AA). AA weakens meridional temperature gradients and is hypothesized to weaken zonal wind and cause wavier circulation with stronger meridional wind ( υ ) over northern mid-to-high latitudes. Here model simulations are analyzed to examine the υ response to increased CO 2 and AA alone. Total υ changes are found to be dominated by the effect of increased CO 2 without AA, with a zonal wavenumber-4 (wavenumber-3) change pattern over the northern (southern) extratropics that generally enhances current υ and results partly from changes in zonal temperature gradients. The extratropical υ change patterns are quasi-barotropic and are more pronounced during boreal winter. The CO 2 forcing also causes baroclinic υ changes over the tropics tied to convection changes. The impact of AA on υ is mainly over the northern extratropics and is opposite to the effect of increased CO 2 but with smaller magnitude. An eastward shift (∼5° longitude) and an amplitude increase (∼1 m s −1 ) in the climatology of the northerlies over Europe caused mainly by CO 2 forcing contribute to the drying in southern Europe, while both AA and CO 2 forcing enhance the climatology of the northerlies over East Asia. Over the northern mid-to-high latitudes, Arctic sea ice loss and AA enhance the land–ocean thermal contrast in winter, while increased CO 2 alone weakens it, resulting in opposite changes in zonal temperature gradients and thus υ . Different warming rates over land and ocean also contribute to the intermodel spread in υ response patterns among climate models. Significance Statement Meridional wind ( υ ) greatly contributes to thermal and moisture advection due to large meridional gradients in these fields. It is hypothesized that the enhanced Arctic warming under anthropogenic global warming could weaken meridional temperature gradients, decelerate westerly jets, and cause wavier circulation with stronger υ over northern extratropics. Using novel climate model simulations, we found that the effect of increased CO 2 without AA determines the total υ changes. AA generally weakens the climatological υ , contrary to the direct effect of increased CO 2 . The υ changes are small relative to its climatology but may have large impacts on regional climate over central Europe, East Asia, and interior North America. More research is needed to examine the mechanisms causing regional υ changes.more » « less
Variability in the strength of low-cloud feedbacks across climate models is the primary contributor to the spread in their estimates of equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS). This raises the question: What are the regional implications for key features of tropical climate of globally weak versus strong low-cloud feedbacks in response to greenhouse gas–induced warming? To address this question and formalize our understanding of cloud controls on tropical climate, we perform a suite of idealized fully coupled and slab-ocean climate simulations across which we systematically scale the strength of the low-cloud-cover feedback under abrupt 2 × CO2forcing within a single model, thereby isolating the impact of low-cloud feedback strength. The feedback strength is varied by modifying the stratus cloud fraction so that it is a function of not only local conditions but also global temperature in a series of abrupt 2 × CO2sensitivity experiments. The unperturbed decrease in low cloud cover (LCC) under 2 × CO2is greatest in the mid- and high-latitude oceans, and the subtropical eastern Pacific and Atlantic, a pattern that is magnified as the feedback strength is scaled. Consequently, sea surface temperature (SST) increases more in these regions as well as the Pacific cold tongue. As the strength of the low-cloud feedback increases this results in not only increased ECS, but also an enhanced reduction of the large-scale zonal and meridional SST gradients (structural climate sensitivity), with implications for the atmospheric Hadley and Walker circulations, as well as the hydrological cycle. The relevance of our results to simulating past warm climate is also discussed.
Earth's hydrological cycle is expected to intensify in response to global warming, with a “wet‐gets‐wetter, dry‐gets‐drier” response anticipated over the ocean. Subtropical regions (∼15°–30°N/S) are predicted to become drier, yet proxy evidence from past warm climates suggests these regions may be characterized by wetter conditions. Here we use an integrated data‐modeling approach to reconstruct global and zonal‐mean rainfall patterns during the early Eocene (∼56–48 million years ago). The Deep‐Time Model Intercomparison Project (DeepMIP) model ensemble indicates that the mid‐ (30°–60°N/S) and high‐latitudes (>60°N/S) are characterized by a thermodynamically dominated hydrological response to warming and overall wetter conditions. The tropical band (0°–15°N/S) is also characterized by wetter conditions, with several DeepMIP models simulating narrowing of the Inter‐Tropical Convergence Zone. However, the latter is not evident from the proxy data. The subtropics are characterized by negative precipitation‐evaporation anomalies (i.e., drier conditions) in the DeepMIP models, but there is surprisingly large inter‐model variability in mean annual precipitation (MAP). Intriguingly, we find that models with weaker meridional temperature gradients (e.g., CESM, GFDL) are characterized by a reduction in subtropical moisture divergence, leading to an increase in MAP. These model simulations agree more closely with our new proxy‐derived precipitation reconstructions and other key climate metrics and imply that the early Eocene was characterized by reduced subtropical moisture divergence. If the meridional temperature gradient was even weaker than suggested by those DeepMIP models, circulation‐induced changes may have outcompeted thermodynamic changes, leading to wetter subtropics. This highlights the importance of accurately reconstructing zonal temperature gradients when reconstructing past rainfall patterns.