skip to main content

Title: Robust Relationship Between Midlatitudes CAPE and Moist Static Energy Surplus in Present and Future Simulations

Convective available potential energy (CAPE), a metric associated with severe weather, is expected to increase with warming, but we have lacked a framework that describes its changes in the populated midlatitudes. In the tropics, theory suggests mean CAPE should rise following the Clausius–Clapeyron (C–C) relationship at ∼6%/K. In the heterogeneous midlatitudes, where the mean change is less relevant, we show that CAPE changes are larger and can be well‐described by a simple framework based on moist static energy surplus, which is robust across climate states. This effect is highly general and holds across both high‐resolution nudged regional simulations and free‐running global climate models. The simplicity of this framework means that complex distributional changes in future CAPE can be well‐captured by a simple scaling of present‐day data using only three parameters.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Geophysical Research Letters
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    The diffuse radiation fertilization effect—the increase in plant productivity in the presence of higher diffuse radiation (K↓,d)—is an important yet understudied aspect of atmosphere‐biosphere interactions and can modify the terrestrial carbon, energy, and water budgets. TheK↓,dfertilization effect links the carbon cycle with clouds and aerosols, all of which are large sources of uncertainties for our current understanding of the Earth system and for future climate projections. Here we establish to what extent observational and modeling uncertainty in sunlight's diffuse fraction (kd) affects simulated gross primary productivity (GPP) and terrestrial evapotranspiration (λE). We find only 48 eddy covariance sites with simultaneous sufficient measurements ofK↓,dwith none in the tropical climate zone, making it difficult to constrain this mechanism globally using observations. Using a land modeling framework based on the latest version of the Community Land Model, we find that global GPP ranges from 114 Pg C year−1when usingkdforcing from the Modern‐Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications, version 2 reanalysis to a ∼7% higher value of 122 Pg C year−1when using the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System satellite product, with especially strong differences apparent over the tropical region (mean increase ∼9%). The differences inλE, although smaller (−0.4%) due to competing changes in shaded and sunlit leaf transpiration, can be greater than regional impacts of individual forcing agents like aerosols. Our results demonstrate the importance of comprehensively and systematically validating the simulatedkdby atmosphere modules as well as the response to differences inkdwithin land modules across Earth System Models.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    The response of severe convective storms to a warming climate is poorly understood outside of a few well studied regions. Here, projections from seven global climate models from the CMIP6 archive, for both historical and future scenarios, are used to explore the global response in variables that describe favorability of conditions for the development of severe storms. The variables include convective available potential energy (CAPE), convection inhibition (CIN), 0–6 km vertical wind shear (S06), storm relative helicity (SRH), and covariate indices (i.e., severe weather proxies) that combine them. To better quantify uncertainty, understand variable sensitivity to increasing temperature, and present results independent from a specific scenario, we consider changes in convective variables as a function of global average temperature increase across each ensemble member. Increases to favorable convective environments show an overall frequency increases on the order of 5%–20% per °C of global temperature increase, but are not regionally uniform, with higher latitudes, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, showing much larger relative changes. The driving mechanism of these changes is a strong increase in CAPE that is not offset by factors that either resist convection (CIN), or modify the likelihood of storm organization (S06, SRH). Severe weather proxies are not the same as severe weather events. Hence, their projected increases will not necessarily translate to severe weather occurrences, but they allow us to quantify how increases in global temperature will affect the occurrence of conditions favorable to severe weather.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Accurate delineation of compound flood hazard requires joint simulation of rainfall‐runoff and storm surges within high‐resolution flood models, which may be computationally expensive. There is a need for supplementing physical models with efficient, probabilistic methodologies for compound flood hazard assessment that can be applied under a range of climate and environment conditions. Here we propose an extension to the joint probability optimal sampling method (JPM‐OS), which has been widely used for storm surge assessment, and apply it for rainfall‐surge compound hazard assessment under climate change at the catchment‐scale. We utilize thousands of synthetic tropical cyclones (TCs) and physics‐based models to characterize storm surge and rainfall hazards at the coast. Then we implement a Bayesian quadrature optimization approach (JPM‐OS‐BQ) to select a small number (∼100) of storms, which are simulated within a high‐resolution flood model to characterize the compound flood hazard. We show that the limited JPM‐OS‐BQ simulations can capture historical flood return levels within 0.25 m compared to a high‐fidelity Monte Carlo approach. We find that the combined impact of 2100 sea‐level rise (SLR) and TC climatology changes on flood hazard change in the Cape Fear Estuary, NC will increase the 100‐year flood extent by 27% and increase inundation volume by 62%. Moreover, we show that probabilistic incorporation of SLR in the JPM‐OS‐BQ framework leads to different 100‐year flood maps compared to using a single mean SLR projection. Our framework can be applied to catchments across the United States Atlantic and Gulf coasts under a variety of climate and environment scenarios.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    The Radiative‐Convective Equilibrium Model Intercomparison Project (RCEMIP) exhibits a large spread in the simulated climate across models, including in profiles of buoyancy and relative humidity. Here we use simple theory to understand the control of stability, relative humidity, and their responses to warming. Across the RCEMIP ensemble, temperature profiles are systematically cooler than a moist adiabat, and convective available potential energy (CAPE) increases with warming at a rate greater than that expected from the Clausius‐Clapeyron relation. There is higher CAPE (greater instability) in models that are on average moister in the lower‐troposphere. To more explicitly evaluate the drivers of the intermodel spread, we use simple theory to estimate values of entrainment and precipitation efficiency (PE) given the simulated values of CAPE and lower‐tropospheric relative humidity. We then decompose the intermodel spread in CAPE and relative humidity (and their responses to warming) into contributions from variability in entrainment, PE, the temperature of the convecting top, and the inverse water vapor scale height. Model‐to‐model variation in entrainment is a dominant source of intermodel spread in CAPE and its changes with warming, while variation in PE is the dominant source of intermodel spread in relative humidity. We also decompose the magnitude of the CAPE increase with warming and find that atmospheric warming itself contributes most strongly to the CAPE increase, but the indirect effect of increases in the water vapor scale height with warming also contribute to increasing CAPE beyond that expected from Clausius‐Clapeyron.

    more » « less
  5. The Tropical Rain Belts with an Annual Cycle and Continent Model Intercomparison Project (TRACMIP) ensemble—a multimodel ensemble of slab-ocean simulations in idealized configurations—provides a test of the relationship between the zonal mean ITCZ and the cross-equatorial atmospheric energy transports (AHTeq). In a gross sense, the ITCZ position is linearly related to AHTeq, as expected from the energetic framework. Yet, in many aspects, the TRACMIP model simulations do not conform to the framework. Throughout the annual cycle there are large excursions in the ITCZ position unrelated to changes in the AHTeqand, conversely, substantial variations in the magnitude of the AHTeqwhile the ITCZ is stationary at its northernmost position. Variations both in the net vertical energy input at the ITCZ location and in the vertical profile of ascent play a role in setting the model behavior apart from the conceptual framework. Nevertheless, a linear fit to the ITCZ–AHTeqrelationship captures a substantial fraction of the seasonal variations in these quantities as well as the intermodel or across-climate variations in their annual mean values. The slope of the ITCZ–AHTeqlinear fit for annual mean changes across simulations with different forcings and configurations varies in magnitude and even sign from model to model and we identify variations in the vertical profile of ascent as a key factor. A simple sea surface temperature–based index avoids the complication of changes in the vertical structure of the atmospheric circulation and provides a more reliable diagnostic for the ITCZ position.

    more » « less