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  1. Abstract

    The variability of the Southern Hemisphere (SH) extratropical large‐scale circulation is dominated by the Southern Annular Mode (SAM), whose timescale is extensively used as a key metric in evaluating state‐of‐the‐art climate models. Past observational and theoretical studies suggest that the SAM lacks any internally generated (intrinsic) periodicity. Here, we show, using observations and a climate model hierarchy, that the SAM has an intrinsic 150‐day periodicity. This periodicity is robustly detectable in the power spectra and principal oscillation patterns (aka dynamical mode decomposition) of the zonal‐mean circulation, and in hemispheric‐scale precipitation and ocean surface wind stress. The 150‐day period is consistent with the predictions of a new reduced‐order model for the SAM, which suggests that this periodicity is associated with a complex interaction of turbulent eddies and zonal wind anomalies, as the latter propagate from low to high latitudes. These findings present a rare example of periodic oscillations arising from the internal dynamics of the extratropical turbulent circulations. Based on these findings, we further propose a new metric for evaluating climate models, and show that some of the previously reported shortcomings and improvements in simulating SAM's variability connect to the models' ability in reproducing this periodicity. We argue that this periodicity should be considered in evaluating climate models and understanding the past, current, and projected Southern Hemisphere climate variability.

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  2. Abstract

    Two distinct features of anthropogenic climate change, warming in the tropical upper troposphere and warming at the Arctic surface, have competing effects on the midlatitude jet stream’s latitudinal position, often referred to as a “tug-of-war.” Studies that investigate the jet’s response to these thermal forcings show that it is sensitive to model type, season, initial atmospheric conditions, and the shape and magnitude of the forcing. Much of this past work focuses on studying a simulation’s response to external manipulation. In contrast, we explore the potential to train a convolutional neural network (CNN) on internal variability alone and then use it to examine possible nonlinear responses of the jet to tropospheric thermal forcing that more closely resemble anthropogenic climate change. Our approach leverages the idea behind the fluctuation–dissipation theorem, which relates the internal variability of a system to its forced response but so far has been only used to quantify linear responses. We train a CNN on data from a long control run of the CESM dry dynamical core and show that it is able to skillfully predict the nonlinear response of the jet to sustained external forcing. The trained CNN provides a quick method for exploring the jet stream sensitivity to a wide range of tropospheric temperature tendencies and, considering that this method can likely be applied to any model with a long control run, could be useful for early-stage experiment design.

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  3. Abstract To better understand the dynamics and impacts of blocking events, their 3D structure needs to be further investigated. We present a comprehensive composite analysis of the 3D structure of blocks and its response to future climate change over North Pacific, North Atlantic, and Russia in summers and winters using reanalysis and two large-ensemble datasets from CESM1 and GFDLCM3. In reanalysis, over both ocean and land, the anomalous winds are equivalent-barotropic in the troposphere and stratosphere, and temperature anomalies are positive throughout the troposphere and negative in the lower stratosphere. The main seasonal and regional differences are that blocks are larger/stronger in winters; over oceans, the temperature anomaly is shifted westward due to latent heating. Analyzing the temperature tendency equation shows that in all three sectors, adiabatic warming due to subsidence is the main driver of the positive temperature anomaly; however, depending on season and region, meridional thermal advection and latent heating might have leading-order contributions too. Both GCMs are found to reproduce the climatological 3D structure remarkably well, but sometimes disagree on future changes. Overall, the future summertime response is weakening of all fields (except for specific humidity), although the impact on near-surface temperature is not necessarily weakened; e.g., the blocking-driven near-surface warming over Russia intensifies. The wintertime response is strengthening of all fields, except for temperature in some cases. Responses of geopotential height and temperature are shifted westward in winters, most likely due to latent heating. Results highlight the importance of process-level analyses of blocks’ 3D structure for improved understanding of the resulting temperature extremes and their future changes. 
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  4. Abstract

    The forecast skill of numerical weather prediction (NWP) models and the intrinsic predictability can be different among weather regimes. Here, we examine the predictability of distinct Pacific‐North American weather regimes during extended boreal summer. The four identified weather regimes include Pacific trough, Arctic low, Arctic high, and Alaskan ridge. The medium range forecast skill of these regimes is quantified in the ECMWF and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction models from the TIGGE project. Based on anomaly correlation coefficient, persistence, and transition frequency, the highest forecast skill is consistently found for the Arctic high regime. Based on the instantaneous local dimension and persistence from a dynamical systems analysis, the Arctic high regime has the highest intrinsic predictability. The analysis also suggests that overall, the Pacific trough regime has the lowest intrinsic predictability. These findings are consistent with the forecast skills of the NWP models, and highlight the link between prediction skill and intrinsic predictability.

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  5. null (Ed.)
    Abstract The response of mid-latitude equilibrated eddy length scale to static stability has long been questioned but not investigated in well-controlled experiments with unchanged mean zonal wind and meridional temperature gradient. With iterative use of the linear response function of an idealized dry atmosphere, we obtain a time-invariant and zonally-uniform forcing to decrease the near-surface temperature by over 2 K while keeping the change in zonal wind negligible (within 0.2m s −1 ). In such experiments of increased static stability, energy-containing zonal scale decreases by 3–4%, which matches with Rhines scale decrease near the jet core. Changes in Rossby radius (+2%), maximum baroclinic growth scale (-1%) and Kuo scale (0%) fail to match this change in zonal scale. These findings and well-controlled experiments help with better understanding of eddy–mean flow interactions and hence the mid-latitude circulation and its response to climate change. 
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  6. Models of many engineering and natural systems are imperfect. The discrepancy between the mathematical representations of a true physical system and its imperfect model is called the model error. These model errors can lead to substantial differences between the numerical solutions of the model and the state of the system, particularly in those involving nonlinear, multi-scale phenomena. Thus, there is increasing interest in reducing model errors, particularly by leveraging the rapidly growing observational data to understand their physics and sources. Here, we introduce a framework named MEDIDA: Model Error Discovery with Interpretability and Data Assimilation. MEDIDA only requires a working numerical solver of the model and a small number of noise-free or noisy sporadic observations of the system. In MEDIDA, first, the model error is estimated from differences between the observed states and model-predicted states (the latter are obtained from a number of one-time-step numerical integrations from the previous observed states). If observations are noisy, a data assimilation technique, such as the ensemble Kalman filter, is employed to provide the analysis state of the system, which is then used to estimate the model error. Finally, an equation-discovery technique, here the relevance vector machine, a sparsity-promoting Bayesian method, is used to identify an interpretable, parsimonious, and closed-form representation of the model error. Using the chaotic Kuramoto–Sivashinsky system as the test case, we demonstrate the excellent performance of MEDIDA in discovering different types of structural/parametric model errors, representing different types of missing physics, using noise-free and noisy observations.

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  7. null (Ed.)
    Abstract The variability of the zonal-mean large-scale extratropical circulation is often studied using individual modes obtained from empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analyses. The prevailing reduced-order model of the leading EOF (EOF1) of zonal-mean zonal wind, called the annular mode, consists of an eddy–mean flow interaction mechanism that results in a positive feedback of EOF1 onto itself. However, a few studies have pointed out that under some circumstances in observations and GCMs, strong couplings exist between EOF1 and EOF2 at some lag times, resulting in decaying-oscillatory, or propagating, annular modes. Here, we introduce a reduced-order model for coupled EOF1 and EOF2 that accounts for potential cross-EOF eddy–zonal flow feedbacks. Using the analytical solution of this model, we derive conditions for the existence of the propagating regime based on the feedback strengths. Using this model, and idealized GCMs and stochastic prototypes, we show that cross-EOF feedbacks play an important role in controlling the persistence of the annular modes by setting the frequency of the oscillation. We find that stronger cross-EOF feedbacks lead to less persistent annular modes. Applying the coupled-EOF model to the Southern Hemisphere reanalysis data shows the existence of strong cross-EOF feedbacks. The results highlight the importance of considering the coupling of EOFs and cross-EOF feedbacks to fully understand the natural and forced variability of the zonal-mean large-scale circulation. 
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