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  1. Here, we show that the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) provides a stronger constraint on equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), the global warming from increasing greenhouse gases, after accounting for temperature patterns. Feedbacks governing ECS depend on spatial patterns of surface temperature (“pattern effects”); hence, using the LGM to constrain future warming requires quantifying how temperature patterns produce different feedbacks during LGM cooling versus modern-day warming. Combining data assimilation reconstructions with atmospheric models, we show that the climate is more sensitive to LGM forcing because ice sheets amplify extratropical cooling where feedbacks are destabilizing. Accounting for LGM pattern effects yields a median modern-day ECS of 2.4°C, 66% range 1.7° to 3.5°C (1.4° to 5.0°C, 5 to 95%), from LGM evidence alone. Combining the LGM with other lines of evidence, the best estimate becomes 2.9°C, 66% range 2.4° to 3.5°C (2.1° to 4.1°C, 5 to 95%), substantially narrowing uncertainty compared to recent assessments.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 19, 2025
  2. Abstract CO 2 -forced surface warming in general circulation models (GCMs) is initially polar amplified in the Arctic but not in the Antarctic—a largely hemispherically antisymmetric signal. Nevertheless, we show in CESM1 and 11 LongRunMIP GCMs that the hemispherically symmetric component of global-mean-normalized, zonal-mean warming ( ) under 4 × CO 2 changes weakly or becomes modestly more polar amplified from the first decade to near-equilibrium. Conversely, the antisymmetric warming component ( ) weakens with time in all models, modestly in some including FAMOUS, but effectively vanishing in others including CESM1. We explore mechanisms underlying the robust behavior with a diffusive moist energy balance model (MEBM), which given radiative feedback parameter ( λ ) and ocean heat uptake ( ) fields diagnosed from CESM1 adequately reproduces the CESM1 and fields. In further MEBM simulations perturbing λ and , is sensitive to their symmetric components only, and more to that of λ . A three-box, two-time-scale model fitted to FAMOUS and CESM1 reveals a curiously short Antarctic fast-response time scale in FAMOUS. In additional CESM1 simulations spanning a broader range of forcings, changes modestly across 2–16 × CO 2 , and in a Pliocene-like simulation is more polar amplified but likewise approximately time invariant. Determining the real-world relevance of these behaviors—which imply that a surprising amount of information about near-equilibrium polar amplification emerges within decades—merits further study. 
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  3. Abstract

    In early 2018, due in part to a severe and extended meteorological drought, Cape Town was at risk of being one of the first major metropolitan areas in the world to run out of water. The magnitude of the crisis was exacerbated by the fact that such a prolonged and severe drought was both unanticipated and unpredicted. In this work, we analyze data from both observations and seasonal forecasts made as part of the North American Multimodel Ensemble (NMME) to better understand the predictability of rainfall in the Cape Town (CT) region. We find that there are statistically significant correlations between observed CT rainfall and sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic (∼0.45) as well as a pattern of 200-mb geopotential height (z200) anomalies resembling the Southern Annular Mode (SAM; ∼0.4). Examination of hindcasts from the NMME demonstrates that the models accurately reproduce the observed correlation between CT rainfall and z200 anomalies. However, they fail to reproduce correlations between CT rainfall and the tropical South Atlantic. Decomposition of the correlations into contributions from predictable and unpredictable components indicates that CT rainfall in the models is dominated by unpredicted atmospheric variability (correlation ∼ 0.84) relative to predicted (correlation ∼ 0.14), which may be related to the failure to simulate the connection with the tropical Atlantic.

    Significance Statement

    Water crises are occurring with increasing severity and frequency around the globe. The ability to accurately forecast wet season rainfall would be invaluable to water managers and other decision-makers. Here, we explore the reasons behind the failure of a suite of operational seasonal forecast models to accurately predict rainfall in the Cape Town region of South Africa.

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  4. Abstract

    Future projections of southwestern African hydroclimate are highly uncertain. However, insights from past warm climates, like the Pliocene, can reveal mechanisms of future change and help benchmark models. Using leaf wax hydrogen isotopes to reconstruct precipitation (δDp) from Namibia over the past 5 million years, we find a long‐term depletion trend (−50‰). Empirical mode decomposition indicates this trend is linked to sea surface temperatures (SSTs) within the Benguela Upwelling System, but modulated by Indian Ocean SSTs on shorter timescales. The influence of SSTs on reconstructed regional hydroclimate is similar to that observed during modern Benguela Nio events, which bring extreme flooding to the region. Isotope‐enabled simulations and PlioMIP2 results suggest that capturing a Benguela Nio‐like state is key to accurately simulating Pliocene, and future, regional hydroclimate. This has implications for future regional climate, since an increased frequency of Benguela Nios poses risk to the ecosystems and industries in the region.

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  5. Abstract

    Southern hemisphere subtropical anticyclones are projected to change in a warmer climate during both austral summer and winter. A recent study of CMIP 5 & 6 projections found a combination of local diabatic heating changes and static-stability-induced changes in baroclinic eddy growth as the dominant drivers. Yet the underlying mechanisms forcing these changes still remain uninvestigated. This study aims to enhance our mechanistic understanding of what drives these Southern Hemisphere anticyclones changes during both seasons. Using an AGCM, we decompose the response to CO2-induced warming into two components: (1) the fast atmospheric response to direct CO2radiative forcing, and (2) the slow atmospheric response due to indirect sea surface temperature warming. Additionally, we isolate the influence of tropical diabatic heating with AGCM added heating experiments. As a complement to our numerical AGCM experiments, we analyze the Atmospheric and Cloud Feedback Model Intercomparison Project experiments. Results from sensitivity experiments show that slow subtropical sea surface temperature warming primarily forces the projected changes in subtropical anticyclones through baroclinicity change. Fast CO2atmospheric radiative forcing on the other hand plays a secondary role, with the most notable exception being the South Atlantic subtropical anticyclone in austral winter, where it opposes the forcing by sea surface temperature changes resulting in a muted net response. Lastly, we find that tropical diabatic heating changes only significantly influence Southern Hemisphere subtropical anticyclone changes through tropospheric wind shear changes during austral winter.

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  6. Abstract

    Interannual sea surface temperature (SST) variations in the tropical Atlantic Ocean lead to anomalous atmospheric circulation and precipitation patterns with important ecological and socioeconomic consequences for the semiarid regions of sub-Saharan Africa and northeast Brazil. This interannual SST variability is characterized by three modes: an Atlantic meridional mode featuring an anomalous cross-equatorial SST gradient that peaks in boreal spring; an Atlantic zonal mode (Atlantic Niño mode) with SST anomalies in the eastern equatorial Atlantic cold tongue region that peaks in boreal summer; and a second zonal mode of variability with eastern equatorial SST anomalies peaking in boreal winter. Here we investigate the extent to which there is any seasonality in the relationship between equatorial warm water recharge and the development of eastern equatorial Atlantic SST anomalies. Seasonally stratified cross-correlation analysis between eastern equatorial Atlantic SST anomalies and equatorial heat content anomalies (evaluated using warm water volume and sea surface height) indicate that while equatorial heat content changes do occasionally play a role in the development of boreal summer Atlantic zonal mode events, they contribute more consistently to Atlantic Niño II, boreal winter events. Event and composite analysis of ocean adjustment with a shallow water model suggest that the warm water volume anomalies originate mainly from the off-equatorial northwestern Atlantic, in agreement with previous studies linking them to anomalous wind stress curl associated with the Atlantic meridional mode.

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  7. Abstract

    The Eocene‐Oligocene transition (EOT) marks the shift from greenhouse to icehouse conditions at 34 Ma, when a permanent ice sheet developed on Antarctica. Climate modeling studies have recently assessed the drivers of the transition globally. Here we revisit those experiments for a detailed study of the southern high latitudes in comparison to the growing number of mean annual sea surface temperature (SST) and mean air temperature (MAT) proxy reconstructions, allowing us to assess proxy‐model temperature agreement and refine estimates for the magnitude of thepCO2forcing of the EOT. We compile and update published proxy temperature records on and around Antarctica for the late Eocene (38–34 Ma) and early Oligocene (34–30 Ma). Compiled SST proxies cool by up to 3°C and MAT by up to 4°C between the timeslices. Proxy data were compared to previous climate model simulations representing pre‐ and post‐EOT, typically forced with a halving ofpCO2. We scaled the model outputs to identify the magnitude ofpCO2change needed to drive a commensurate change in temperature to best fit the temperature proxies. The multi‐model ensemble needs a 30 or 33% decrease inpCO2, to best fit MAT or SST proxies respectively. These proxy‐model intercomparisons identify decliningpCO2as the primary forcing of EOT cooling, with a magnitude (200 or 243 ppmv) approaching that of thepCO2proxies (150 ppmv). However individual model estimates span a decrease of 66–375 ppmv, thus proxy‐model uncertainties are dominated by model divergence.

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