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Abstract Low clouds frequent the subtropical northeastern Pacific Ocean (NEP) and interact with the local sea surface temperature (SST) to form positive feedback. Wind fluctuations drive SST variability through wind–evaporation–SST (WES) feedback, and surface evaporation also acts to damp SST. This study investigates the relative contributions of these feedbacks to NEP SST variability. Over the summer NEP, the low cloud–SST feedback is so large that it exceeds the evaporative damping and amplifies summertime SST variations. The WES feedback causes the locally enhanced SST variability to propagate southwestward from the NEP low cloud deck, modulating El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) occurrence upon reaching the equator. As a result, a second-year El Niño tends to occur when there are significant warm SST anomalies over the subtropical NEP in summer following an antecedent El Niño event and a second-year La Niña tends to occur when there are significant cold SST anomalies over the subtropical NEP in summer following an antecedent La Niña event The mediating role of the NEP low cloud–SST feedback is confirmed in a cloud-locking experiment with the Community Earth System Model, version 1 (CESM1). When the cloud–ocean coupling is disabled, SST variability over the NEP weakens and the modulating effect on ENSO vanishes. The nonlocal effect of the NEP low cloud–SST feedback on ENSO has important implications for climate prediction.more » « lessFree, publicly-accessible full text available January 15, 2024
While most models agree that the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) becomes weaker under greenhouse gas emission and is likely to weaken over the twenty-first century, they disagree on the projected magnitudes of AMOC weakening. In this work, CMIP6 models with stronger climatological AMOC are shown to project stronger AMOC weakening in both 1% ramping CO2and abrupt CO2quadrupling simulations. A physical interpretation of this result is developed. For models with stronger mean state AMOC, stratification in the upper Labrador Sea is weaker, allowing for stronger mixing of the surface buoyancy flux. In response to CO2increase, surface warming is mixed to the deeper Labrador Sea in models with stronger upper-ocean mixing. This subsurface warming and corresponding density decrease drives AMOC weakening through advection from the Labrador Sea to the subtropics via the deep western boundary current. Time series analysis shows that most CMIP6 models agree that the decrease in subsurface Labrador Sea density leads AMOC weakening in the subtropics by several years. Also, idealized experiments conducted in an ocean-only model show that the subsurface warming over 500–1500 m in the Labrador Sea leads to stronger AMOC weakening several years later, while the warming that is too shallow (<500 m) or too deep (>1500 m) in the Labrador Sea causes little AMOC weakening. These results suggest that a better representation of mean state AMOC is necessary for narrowing the intermodel uncertainty of AMOC weakening to greenhouse gas emission and its corresponding impacts on future warming projections.
Previous studies have found that Northern Hemisphere aerosol‐like cooling induces a La Niña‐like response in the tropical Indo‐Pacific. Here, we explore how a coupled ocean‐atmosphere feedback pathway communicates and sustains this response. We override ocean surface wind stress in a comprehensive climate model to decompose the total ocean‐atmosphere response to forced extratropical cooling into the response of surface buoyancy forcing alone and surface momentum forcing alone. In the subtropics, the buoyancy‐forced response dominates: the positive low cloud feedback amplifies sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies which wind‐driven evaporative cooling communicates to the tropics. In the equatorial Indo‐Pacific, buoyancy‐forced ocean dynamics cool the surface while the Bjerknes feedback creates zonally asymmetric SST patterns. Although subtropical cloud feedbacks are model‐dependent, our results suggest this feedback pathway is robust across a suite of models such that models with a stronger subtropical low cloud response exhibit a stronger La Niña response.
null (Ed.)Walker circulation variability and associated zonal shifts in the heating of the tropical atmosphere have far-reaching global impacts well into high latitudes. Yet the reversed high latitude–to–Walker circulation teleconnection is not fully understood. Here, we reveal the dynamical pathways of this teleconnection across different components of the climate system using a hierarchy of climate model simulations. In the fully coupled system with ocean circulation adjustments, the Walker circulation strengthens in response to extratropical radiative cooling of either hemisphere, associated with the upwelling of colder subsurface water in the eastern equatorial Pacific. By contrast, in the absence of ocean circulation adjustments, the Walker circulation response is sensitive to the forcing hemisphere, due to the blocking effect of the northward-displaced climatological intertropical convergence zone and shortwave cloud radiative effects. Our study implies that energy biases in the extratropics can cause pronounced changes of tropical climate patterns.more » « less