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  1. Abstract

    The Hadley circulation is the most prominent atmospheric meridional circulation, reducing the radiatively driven equator-to-pole temperature gradient. While the Hadley cell extent varies by several degrees from year to year, the detailed dynamical mechanisms behind such variations have not been well elucidated. During the expanded phase of the Hadley cell, many regions on the periphery of the subtropics experience unfavorable climatic conditions. In this study, using ERA5 reanalysis data, we examine the physical chain of events responsible for the interannual variation of the Hadley cell edge (HCE) latitude in the Northern Hemisphere. This variation is mainly caused by changing eddy activity and wave breaking from both stationary and transient waves. In particular, we show that transient waves cause the HCE to shift poleward by increasing the eddy momentum flux divergence (EMFD) and reducing the baroclinicity over 20°–40°N, shifting the region of peak baroclinicity poleward. El Niño/La Niña and the Arctic Oscillation (AO) account for a significant portion (60%) of the interannual fluctuation of the HCE latitude. Through the poleward displacement of eddy activity, La Niña and a positive AO state are associated with the poleward shift of the HCE. The analysis of 28 CMIP5 models reveals statistical relationships between EMFD, vertical shear, and HCE latitude similar to those observed.

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  2. Abstract

    Given the key role that atmospheric heat transport plays in Earth's climate system, efforts to document its changes over the satellite era are valuable. Clark et al. (2022, calculated trends in atmospheric heat transport among four reanalysis data sets and found substantial disagreements between data sets. However, after accounting for the lack of mass‐conservation in reanalysis data sets, we find much smaller magnitude trends, with much better agreement among reanalyses. This highlights the importance of mass corrections when calculating atmospheric heat transport.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 16, 2024
  3. Abstract

    We investigate the linear trends in meridional atmospheric heat transport (AHT) since 1980 in atmospheric reanalysis datasets, coupled climate models, and atmosphere-only climate models forced with historical sea surface temperatures. Trends in AHT are decomposed into contributions from three components of circulation: (i) transient eddies, (ii) stationary eddies, and (iii) the mean meridional circulation. All reanalyses and models agree on the pattern of AHT trends in the Southern Ocean, providing confidence in the trends in this region. There are robust increases in transient-eddy AHT magnitude in the Southern Ocean in the reanalyses, which are well replicated by the atmosphere-only models, while coupled models show smaller magnitude trends. This suggests that the pattern of sea surface temperature trends contributes to the transient-eddy AHT trends in this region. In the tropics, we find large differences between mean-meridional circulation AHT trends in models and the reanalyses, which we connect to discrepancies in tropical precipitation trends. In the Northern Hemisphere, we find less evidence of large-scale trends and more uncertainty, but note several regions with mismatches between models and the reanalyses that have dynamical explanations. Throughout this work we find strong compensation between the different components of AHT, most notably in the Southern Ocean where transient-eddy AHT trends are well compensated by trends in the mean-meridional circulation AHT, resulting in relatively small total AHT trends. This highlights the importance of considering AHT changes holistically, rather than each AHT component individually.

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  4. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Atmospheric heat transport is an important piece of our climate system, yet we lack a complete theory for its magnitude or changes. Atmospheric dynamics and radiation play different roles in controlling the total atmospheric heat transport (AHT) and its partitioning into components associated with eddies and mean meridional circulations. This work focuses on two specific controls: a radiative one, namely atmospheric radiative temperature tendencies, and a dynamic one, the planetary rotation rate. We use an idealized gray radiation model to employ a novel framework to lock the radiative temperature tendency and total AHT to climatological values, even while the rotation rate is varied. This setup allows for a systematic study of the effects of radiative tendency and rotation rate on AHT. We find that rotation rate controls the latitudinal extent of the Hadley cell and the heat transport efficiency of eddies. Both the rotation rate and radiative tendency influence the strength of the Hadley cell and the strength of equator–pole energy differences that are important for AHT by eddies. These two controls do not always operate independently and can reinforce or dampen each other. In addition, we examine how individual AHT components, which vary with latitude, sum to a total AHT that varies smoothly with latitude. At slow rotation rates the mean meridional circulation is most important in ensuring total AHT varies smoothly with latitude, while eddies are most important at rotation rates similar to, and faster than, those of Earth. 
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  5. Abstract

    Total poleward atmospheric heat transport (AHT) is similar in both magnitude and latitudinal structure between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. These similarities occur despite more major mountain ranges in the Northern Hemisphere, which help create substantial stationary eddy AHT that is largely absent in the Southern Hemisphere. However, this hemispheric difference in stationary eddy AHT is compensated by hemispheric differences in other dynamic components of AHT so that total AHT is similar between hemispheres. To understand how AHT compensation occurs, we add midlatitude mountain ranges in two different general circulation models that are otherwise configured as aquaplanets. Even when midlatitude mountains are introduced, total AHT is nearly invariant. We explore the near invariance of total AHT in response to orography through dynamic, energetic, and diffusive perspectives. Dynamically, orographically induced changes to stationary eddy AHT are compensated by changes in both transient eddy and mean meridional circulation AHT. This creates an AHT system with three interconnected components that resist large changes to total AHT. Energetically, the total AHT can only change if the top-of-the-atmosphere net radiation changes at the equator-to-pole scale. Midlatitude orography does not create large-enough changes in the equator-to-pole temperature gradient to alter outgoing longwave radiation enough to substantially change total AHT. In the zonal mean, changes to absorbed shortwave radiation also often compensate for changes in outgoing longwave radiation. Diffusively, the atmosphere smooths anomalies in temperature and humidity created by the addition of midlatitude orography, such that total AHT is relatively invariant.

    Significance Statement

    The purpose of this study is to better understand how orography influences heat transport in the atmosphere. Enhancing our understanding of how atmospheric heat transport works is important, as heat transport helps moderate Earth’s surface temperatures and influences precipitation patterns. We find that the total amount of atmospheric heat transport does not change in the presence of mountains in the midlatitudes. Different pieces of the heat transport change, but they change in compensatory ways, such that the total heat transport remains roughly constant.

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  6. The impact of global warming–induced intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) narrowing onto the higher-latitude circulation is examined in the GFDL Atmospheric Model, version 2.1 (AM2.1), run over zonally symmetric aquaplanet boundary conditions. A striking reconfiguration of the deep tropical precipitation from double-peaked, off-equatorial ascent to a single peak at the equator occurs under a globally uniform +4 K sea surface temperature (SST) perturbation. This response is found to be highly sensitive to the SST profile used to force the model. By making small (≤1 K) perturbations to the surface temperature in the deep tropics, varying control simulation precipitation patterns with both single and double ITCZs are generated. Across the climatologies, narrower regions of ascent correspond to more equatorward Hadley cell edges and eddy-driven jets. Under the global warming perturbation, the experiments in which there is narrowing of the ITCZ show significantly less expansion of the Hadley cell and somewhat less poleward shift of the eddy-driven jet than those without ITCZ narrowing. With a narrower ITCZ, the ascending air has larger zonal momentum, causing more westerly upper-tropospheric subtropical wind. In turn, this implies 1) the subtropical jet will become baroclinically unstable at a lower latitude and 2) the critical (zero wind) line will shift equatorward, allowing midlatitude eddies to propagate farther equatorward. Both of these mechanisms modify the Hadley cell edge position, and the latter affects the jet position.

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  7. Abstract

    In recent years India has been increasingly experiencing widespread floods induced by large‐scale extreme rainfall events (LEREs). LEREs are mainly associated with monsoon low‐pressure systems (LPS). The forecast of these high‐flood‐potential events, however, has remained challenging. Here, we compare LPSs of the summer monsoon that led to LEREs (LPS‐Lg) and strong LPSs that did not result in LEREs (LPS‐noLg) over central India for the period 1979–2012. We show that having a strong LPS is not a sufficient condition to produce LEREs, and the LPS‐Lgs are accompanied by secondary cyclonic vortices (SCVs). The simultaneous existence of an LPS and an SCV creates a giant midtropospheric vortex. SCVs enhance dynamic lifting, static instability, and moisture transport from the Arabian Sea that precondition the atmosphere for deep convection. SCVs also slow down the propagation of LPSs. We show that the interaction of synoptic‐scale systems can lead to LEREs even if individual systems are not strong enough.

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