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  1. 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 wemore »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.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 14, 2023
  2. 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)more »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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  3. Abstract Different oceanic and atmospheric mechanisms have been proposed to describe the response of the tropical Pacific to global warming, yet large uncertainties persist on their relative importance and potential interaction. Here, we use idealized experiments forced with a wide range of both abrupt and gradual CO2 increases in a coupled climate model (CESM) together with a simplified box model to explore the interaction between, and time scales of, different mechanisms driving Walker circulation changes. We find a robust transient response to CO2 forcing across all simulations, lasting between 20 and 100 years, depending on how abruptly the system ismore »perturbed. This initial response is characterized by the strengthening of the Indo-Pacific zonal SST gradient and a westward shift of the Walker cell. In contrast, the equilibrium response, emerging after 50–100 years, is characterized by a warmer cold tongue, reduced zonal winds, and a weaker Walker cell. The magnitude of the equilibrium response in the fully coupled model is set primarily by enhanced extratropical warming and weaker oceanic subtropical cells, reducing the supply of cold water to equatorial upwelling. In contrast, in the slab ocean simulations, the weakening of the Walker cell is more modest and driven by differential evaporative cooling along the equator. The “weaker Walker” mechanism implied by atmospheric energetics is also observed for the midtroposphere vertical velocity, but its surface manifestation is not robust. Correctly diagnosing the balance between these transient and equilibrium responses will improve understanding of ongoing and future climate change in the tropical Pacific.« less
  4. As the world warms, there is a profound need to improve projections of climate change. Although the latest Earth system models offer an unprecedented number of features, fundamental uncertainties continue to cloud our view of the future. Past climates provide the only opportunity to observe how the Earth system responds to high carbon dioxide, underlining a fundamental role for paleoclimatology in constraining future climate change. Here, we review the relevancy of paleoclimate information for climate prediction and discuss the prospects for emerging methodologies to further insights gained from past climates. Advances in proxy methods and interpretations pave the way formore »the use of past climates for model evaluation—a practice that we argue should be widely adopted.« less
  5. 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, therebymore »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.

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  6. Abstract. Accurate estimates of past global mean surface temperature (GMST) help tocontextualise future climate change and are required to estimate thesensitivity of the climate system to CO2 forcing through Earth's history.Previous GMST estimates for the latest Paleocene and early Eocene(∼57 to 48 million years ago) span a wide range(∼9 to 23 ∘C higher than pre-industrial) andprevent an accurate assessment of climate sensitivity during this extremegreenhouse climate interval. Using the most recent data compilations, weemploy a multi-method experimental framework to calculate GMST during thethree DeepMIP target intervals: (1) the latest Paleocene (∼57 Ma), (2) the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM; 56 Ma), and (3) the earlyEocene Climaticmore »Optimum (EECO; 53.3 to 49.1 Ma). Using six differentmethodologies, we find that the average GMST estimate (66 % confidence)during the latest Paleocene, PETM, and EECO was 26.3 ∘C (22.3 to28.3 ∘C), 31.6 ∘C (27.2 to 34.5 ∘C), and27.0 ∘C (23.2 to 29.7 ∘C), respectively. GMST estimatesfrom the EECO are ∼10 to 16 ∘C warmer thanpre-industrial, higher than the estimate given by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5thAssessment Report (9 to 14 ∘C higher than pre-industrial).Leveraging the large “signal” associated with these extreme warm climates,we combine estimates of GMST and CO2 from the latest Paleocene, PETM,and EECO to calculate gross estimates of the average climate sensitivitybetween the early Paleogene and today. We demonstrate that “bulk”equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS; 66 % confidence) during the latestPaleocene, PETM, and EECO is 4.5 ∘C (2.4 to 6.8 ∘C),3.6 ∘C (2.3 to 4.7 ∘C), and 3.1 ∘C (1.8 to4.4 ∘C) per doubling of CO2. These values are generallysimilar to those assessed by the IPCC (1.5 to 4.5 ∘C per doublingCO2) but appear incompatible with low ECS values (<1.5 perdoubling CO2).« less