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Creators/Authors contains: "Karnauskas, Kristopher B."

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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 22, 2023
  2. Abstract The subtropical Indian Ocean dipole (SIOD) and Ningaloo Niño are the two dominant modes of interannual climate variability in the subtropical south Indian Ocean. Observations show that the SIOD has been weakening in the recent decades, while Ningaloo Niño has been strengthening. In this study, we investigate the causes for such changes by analyzing climate model experiments using the NCAR Community Earth System Model, version 1 (CESM1). Ensemble-mean results from CESM1 large-ensemble (CESM1-LE) show that the external forcing causes negligible changes in the amplitudes of the SIOD and Ningaloo Niño, suggesting a dominant role of internal climate variability. Meanwhile, results from CESM1 pacemaker experiments reveal that the observed changes in the two climate modes cannot be attributed to the effect of sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTA) in either the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean or tropical Indian Ocean. By further comparing different ensemble members from the CESM1-LE, we find that a warm pool dipole mode of decadal variability, with opposite SSTA in the southeast Indian Ocean and the western-central tropical Pacific Ocean plays an important role in driving the observed changes in the SIOD and Ningaloo Niño. These changes in the two climate modes have considerable impacts on precipitation andmore »sea level variabilities in the south Indian Ocean region.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 15, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  4. Over the past 15 years, numerous studies have suggested that the sinking branches of Earth’s Hadley circulation and the associated subtropical dry zones have shifted poleward over the late 20 th century and early 21 st century. Early estimates of this tropical widening from satellite observations and reanalyses varied from 0.25° to 3° latitude per decade, while estimates from global climate models show widening at the lower end of the observed range. In 2016, two working groups, the US Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) working group on the Changing Width of the Tropical Belt and the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) Tropical Width Diagnostics Intercomparison Project, were formed to synthesize current understanding of the magnitude, causes, and impacts of the recent tropical widening evident in observations. These working groups concluded that the large rates of observed tropical widening noted by earlier studies resulted from their use of metrics that poorly capture changes in the Hadley circulation, or from the use of reanalyses that contained spurious trends. Accounting for these issues reduces the range of observed expansion rates to 0.25°–0.5° latitude decade -1 —within the range from model simulations. Models indicate that most of the recent Northern Hemisphere tropical widening ismore »consistent with natural variability, whereas increasing greenhouse gases and decreasing stratospheric ozone likely played an important role in Southern Hemisphere widening. Whatever the cause or rate of expansion, understanding the regional impacts of tropical widening requires additional work, as different forcings can produce different regional patterns of widening.« less
  5. Abstract Previous studies have documented a poleward shift in the subsiding branches of Earth’s Hadley circulation since 1979 but have disagreed on the causes of these observed changes and the ability of global climate models to capture them. This synthesis paper reexamines a number of contradictory claims in the past literature and finds that the tropical expansion indicated by modern reanalyses is within the bounds of models’ historical simulations for the period 1979–2005. Earlier conclusions that models were underestimating the observed trends relied on defining the Hadley circulation using the mass streamfunction from older reanalyses. The recent observed tropical expansion has similar magnitudes in the annual mean in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) and Southern Hemisphere (SH), but models suggest that the factors driving the expansion differ between the hemispheres. In the SH, increasing greenhouse gases (GHGs) and stratospheric ozone depletion contributed to tropical expansion over the late twentieth century, and if GHGs continue increasing, the SH tropical edge is projected to shift further poleward over the twenty-first century, even as stratospheric ozone concentrations recover. In the NH, the contribution of GHGs to tropical expansion is much smaller and will remain difficult to detect in a background of large natural variability,more »even by the end of the twenty-first century. To explain similar recent tropical expansion rates in the two hemispheres, natural variability must be taken into account. Recent coupled atmosphere–ocean variability, including the Pacific decadal oscillation, has contributed to tropical expansion. However, in models forced with observed sea surface temperatures, tropical expansion rates still vary widely because of internal atmospheric variability.« less
  6. Water evaporating from the ocean sustains precipitation on land. This ocean-to-land moisture transport leaves an imprint on sea surface salinity (SSS). Thus, the question arises of whether variations in SSS can provide insight into terrestrial precipitation. This study provides evidence that springtime SSS in the subtropical North Atlantic ocean can be used as a predictor of terrestrial precipitation during the subsequent summer monsoon in Africa. Specifically, increased springtime SSS in the central to eastern subtropical North Atlantic tends to be followed by above-normal monsoon-season precipitation in the African Sahel. In the spring, high SSS is associated with enhanced moisture flux divergence from the subtropical oceans, which converges over the African Sahel and helps to elevate local soil moisture content. From spring to the summer monsoon season, the initial water cycling signal is preserved, amplified, and manifested in excessive precipitation. According to our analysis of currently available soil moisture data sets, this 3-month delay is attributable to a positive coupling between soil moisture, moisture flux convergence, and precipitation in the Sahel. Because of the physical connection between salinity, ocean-to-land moisture transport, and local soil moisture feedback, seasonal forecasts of Sahel precipitation can be improved by incorporating SSS into prediction models. Thus,more »expanded monitoring of ocean salinity should contribute to more skillful predictions of precipitation in vulnerable subtropical regions, such as the Sahel.« less