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  1. The seasonal rainy phase observed in many places across Earth is shaping the climate and is being changed by global climate trends.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  2. Abstract Tropical areas with mean upward motion—and as such the zonal-mean intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ)—are projected to contract under global warming. To understand this process, a simple model based on dry static energy and moisture equations is introduced for zonally symmetric overturning driven by sea surface temperature (SST). Processes governing ascent area fraction and zonal mean precipitation are examined for insight into Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP) simulations. Bulk parameters governing radiative feedbacks and moist static energy transport in the simple model are estimated from the AMIP ensemble. Uniform warming in the simple model produces ascent area contraction and precipitation intensification—similar to observations and climate models. Contributing effects include stronger water vapor radiative feedbacks, weaker cloud-radiative feedbacks, stronger convection-circulation feedbacks, and greater poleward moisture export. The simple model identifies parameters consequential for the inter-AMIP-model spread; an ensemble generated by perturbing parameters governing shortwave water vapor feedbacks and gross moist stability changes under warming tracks inter-AMIP-model variations with a correlation coefficient ∼0.46. The simple model also predicts the multimodel mean changes in tropical ascent area and precipitation with reasonable accuracy. Furthermore, the simple model reproduces relationships among ascent area precipitation, ascent strength, and ascent area fraction observed in AMIP models. A substantial portion of the inter-AMIP-model spread is traced to the spread in how moist static energy and vertical velocity profiles change under warming, which in turn impact the gross moist stability in deep convective regions—highlighting the need for observational constraints on these quantities. Significance Statement A large rainband straddles Earth’s tropics. Most, but not all, climate models predict that this rainband will shrink under global warming; a few models predict an expansion of the rainband. To mitigate some of this uncertainty among climate models, we build a simpler model that only contains the essential physics of rainband narrowing. We find several interconnected processes that are important. For climate models, the most important process is the efficiency with which clouds move heat and humidity out of rainy regions. This efficiency varies among climate models and appears to be a primary reason for why climate models do not agree on the rate of rainband narrowing. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  3. Yeping Yuan (Ed.)
    Multi-scale instabilities are ubiquitous in atmospheric and oceanic flows and are essential topics in teaching geophysical fluid dynamics. Yet these topics are often difficult to teach and counter-intuitive to new learners. In this paper, we introduce our state-of-the-art Do-It Yourself Dynamics (DIYnamics) LEGO robotics kit that allows users to create table-top models of geophysical flows. Deep ocean convection processes are simulated via three experiments – upright convection, thermal wind flows, and baroclinic instability – in order to demonstrate the robust multi-scale modeling capabilities of our kit. Detailed recipes are provided to allow users to reproduce these experiments. Further, dye-visualization measurements show that the table-top experimental results adequately agree with theory. In sum, our DIYnamics setup provides students and educators with an accessible table-top framework by which to model the multi-scale behaviors, inherent in canonical geophysical flows, such as deep ocean convection. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 15, 2024
  4. 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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  5. Abstract

    An idealized aquaplanet moist global atmospheric model with realistic radiative transfer but no clouds and no convective parameterization is found to possess multiple climate equilibria. When forced symmetrically about the equator, in some cases the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) migrates to an off‐equatorial equilibrium position. Mechanism denial experiments prescribing relative humidity imply that radiation‐circulation coupling is essential to this instability. The cross‐equatorial asymmetry occurs only when the underlying slab ocean is sufficiently deep and the atmosphere's spectral dynamical core is sufficiently coarse (∼T170 or less with our control parameters). At higher resolutions, initializing with an asymmetric state indicates metastability with very slow (thousands of days) return to hemispheric symmetry. There is some sensitivity to the model timestep, which affects the time required to transition to the asymmetric state, with little effect on the equilibrium climate. The instability is enhanced when the planetary boundary layer scheme favors deeper layers or by a prescribed meridional heat transport away from the equator within the slab. The instability is not present when the model is run with a convective parameterization scheme commonly utilized in idealized moist models. We argue that the instability occurs when the asymmetric heating associated with a spontaneous ITCZ shift drives a circulation that rises poleward of the perturbed ITCZ. These results serve as a warning of the potential for instability and non‐uniqueness of climate that may complicate studies with idealized models of the tropical response to perturbations in forcing.

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  6. null (Ed.)
    Abstract How far the Hadley circulation’s ascending branch extends into the summer hemisphere is a fundamental but incompletely understood characteristic of Earth’s climate. Here, we present a predictive, analytical theory for this ascending edge latitude based on the extent of supercritical forcing. Supercriticality sets the minimum extent of a large-scale circulation based on the angular momentum and absolute vorticity distributions of the hypothetical state were the circulation absent. We explicitly simulate this latitude-by-latitude radiative-convective equilibrium (RCE) state. Its depth-averaged temperature profile is suitably captured by a simple analytical approximation that increases linearly with sin φ , where φ is latitude, from the winter to the summer pole. This, in turn, yields a one-third power-law scaling of the supercritical forcing extent with the thermal Rossby number. In moist and dry idealized GCM simulations under solsticial forcing performed with a wide range of planetary rotation rates, the ascending edge latitudes largely behave according to this scaling. 
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  7. Abstract

    The TRACMIP (Tropical Rain Belts with an Annual Cycle and Continent Model Intercomparison Project) ensemble includes slab-ocean aquaplanet control simulations and experiments with a highly idealized narrow tropical continent (0°–45°W, 30°S–30°N). We compare the two setups to contrast the characteristics of oceanic and continental rainbands and investigate monsoon development in GCMs with CMIP5-class dynamics and physics. Over land, the rainy season occurs close to the time of maximum insolation. Other than in its timing, the continental rainband remains in an ITCZ-like regime akin to deep-tropical monsoons, with a smooth latitudinal transition, a poleward reach only slightly farther than that of the oceanic ITCZ (about 10°), and a constant width throughout the year. This confinement of the monsoon to the deep tropics is the result of a tight coupling between regional rainfall and circulation anomalies: ventilation of the lower troposphere by the anomalous meridional circulation is the main limiting mechanism, while ventilation by the mean westerly jet aloft is secondary. Comparison of two subsets of TRACMIP simulations indicates that a low heat capacity determines, to a first degree, both the timing and the strength of the regional solsticial circulation; this lends support to the choice of idealizing land as a thin slab ocean in much theoretical literature on monsoon dynamics. Yet, the timing and strength of the monsoon are modulated by the treatment of evaporation over land, especially when moisture and radiation can interact. This points to the need for a fuller exploration of land characteristics in the hierarchical modeling of the tropical rainbands.

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  8. Abstract

    Weak-temperature-gradient influences from the tropics and quasigeostrophic influences from the extratropics plausibly constrain the subtropical-mean static stability in terrestrial atmospheres. Because mean descent acting on this static stability is a leading-order term in the thermodynamic balance, a state-invariant static stability would impose constraints on the Hadley cells, which this paper explores in simulations of varying planetary rotation rate. If downdraft-averaged effective heating (the sum of diabatic heating and eddy heat flux convergence) too is invariant, so must be vertical velocity—an “omega governor.” In that case, the Hadley circulation overturning strength and downdraft width must scale identically—the cell can strengthen only by widening or weaken only by narrowing. Semiempirical scalings demonstrate that subtropical eddy heat flux convergence weakens with rotation rate (scales positively) while diabatic heating strengthens (scales negatively), compensating one another if they are of similar magnitude. Simulations in two idealized, dry GCMs with a wide range of planetary rotation rates exhibit nearly unchanging downdraft-averaged static stability, effective heating, and vertical velocity, as well as nearly identical scalings of the Hadley cell downdraft width and strength. In one, eddy stresses set this scaling directly (the Rossby number remains small); in the other, eddy stress and bulk Rossby number changes compensate to yield the same, ~Ω−1/3scaling. The consistency of this power law for cell width and strength variations may indicate a common driver, and we speculate that Ekman pumping could be the mechanism responsible for this behavior. Diabatic heating in an idealized aquaplanet GCM is an order of magnitude larger than in dry GCMs and reanalyses, and while the subtropical static stability is insensitive to rotation rate, the effective heating and vertical velocity are not.

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  9. Axisymmetric Hadley cell theory has traditionally assumed that the tropopause height ( Ht) is uniform and unchanged from its radiative–convective equilibrium (RCE) value by the cells’ emergence. Recent studies suggest that the tropopause temperature ( Tt), not height, is nearly invariant in RCE, which would require appreciable meridional variations in Ht. Here, we derive modified expressions of axisymmetric theory by assuming a fixed Ttand compare the results to their fixed- Htcounterparts. If Ttand the depth-averaged lapse rate are meridionally uniform, then at each latitude Htvaries linearly with the local surface temperature, altering the diagnosed gradient-balanced zonal wind at the tropopause appreciably (up to tens of meters per second) but the minimal Hadley cell extent predicted by Hide’s theorem only weakly (≲1°) under standard annual-mean and solsticial forcings. A uniform Ttalters the thermal field required to generate an angular-momentum-conserving Hadley circulation, but these changes and the resulting changes to the equal-area model solutions for the cell edges again are modest (<10%). In numerical simulations of latitude-by-latitude RCE under annual-mean forcing using a single-column model, assuming a uniform Ttis reasonably accurate up to the midlatitudes, and the Hide’s theorem metrics are again qualitatively insensitive to the tropopause definition. However imperfectly axisymmetric theory portrays the Hadley cells in Earth’s macroturbulent atmosphere, evidently its treatment of the tropopause is not an important error source.

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  10. We consider the relevance of known constraints from each of Hide’s theorem, the angular momentum–conserving (AMC) model, and the equal-area model on the extent of cross-equatorial Hadley cells. These theories respectively posit that a Hadley circulation must span all latitudes where the radiative–convective equilibrium (RCE) absolute angular momentum [Formula: see text] satisfies [Formula: see text] or [Formula: see text] or where the RCE absolute vorticity [Formula: see text] satisfies [Formula: see text]; all latitudes where the RCE zonal wind exceeds the AMC zonal wind; and over a range such that depth-averaged potential temperature is continuous and that energy is conserved. The AMC model requires knowledge of the ascent latitude [Formula: see text], which needs not equal the RCE forcing maximum latitude [Formula: see text]. Whatever the value of [Formula: see text], we demonstrate that an AMC cell must extend at least as far into the winter hemisphere as the summer hemisphere. The equal-area model predicts [Formula: see text], always placing it poleward of [Formula: see text]. As [Formula: see text] is moved poleward (at a given thermal Rossby number), the equal-area-predicted Hadley circulation becomes implausibly large, while both [Formula: see text] and [Formula: see text] become increasingly displaced poleward of the minimal cell extent based on Hide’s theorem (i.e., of supercritical forcing). In an idealized dry general circulation model, cross-equatorial Hadley cells are generated, some spanning nearly pole to pole. All homogenize angular momentum imperfectly, are roughly symmetric in extent about the equator, and appear in extent controlled by the span of supercritical forcing.

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