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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  2. Trends in surface air temperature (SAT) are a common metric for global warming. Using observations and observationally driven models, we show that a more comprehensive metric for global warming and weather extremes is the trend in surface equivalent potential temperature (Thetae_sfc) since it also accounts for the increase in atmospheric humidity and latent energy. From 1980 to 2019, while SAT increased by 0.79 ° C , Thetae_sfc increased by 1.48 ° C globally and as much as 4 ° C in the tropics. The increase in water vapor is responsible for the factor of 2 difference between SAT and Thetae_sfc trends. Thetae_sfc increased more uniformly (than SAT) between the midlatitudes of the southern hemisphere and the northern hemisphere, revealing the global nature of the heating added by greenhouse gases (GHGs). Trends in heat extremes and extreme precipitation are correlated strongly with the global/tropical trends in Thetae_sfc. The tropical amplification of Thetae_sfc is as large as the arctic amplification of SAT, accounting for the observed global positive trends in deep convection and a 20% increase in heat extremes. With unchecked GHG emissions, while SAT warming can reach 4.8 ° C by 2100, the global mean Thetae_sfc can increase by as much as 12 ° C , with corresponding increases of 12 ° C (median) to 24 ° C (5% of grid points) in land surface temperature extremes, a 14- to 30-fold increase in frequency of heat extremes, a 40% increase in the energy available for tropical deep convection, and an up to 60% increase in extreme precipitation. 
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  3. Abstract For the Community Atmosphere Model version 6 (CAM6), an adjustment is needed to conserve dry air mass. This adjustment exposes an inconsistency in how CAM6’s energy budget incorporates water—in CAM6 water in the vapor phase has energy, but condensed phases of water do not. When water vapor condenses, only its latent energy is retained in the model, while its remaining internal, potential, and kinetic energy are lost. A global fixer is used in the default CAM6 model to maintain global energy conservation, but locally the energy tendency associated with water changing phase violates the divergence theorem. This error in energy tendency is intrinsically tied to the water vapor tendency, and reaches its highest values in regions of heavy rainfall, where the error can be as high as 40 W m −2 annually averaged. Several possible changes are outlined within this manuscript that would allow CAM6 to satisfy the divergence theorem locally. These fall into one of two categories: 1) modifying the surface flux to balance the local atmospheric energy tendency and 2) modifying the local atmospheric tendency to balance the surface plus top-of-atmosphere energy fluxes. To gauge which aspects of the simulated climate are most sensitive to this error, the simplest possible change—where condensed water still does not carry energy and a local energy fixer is used in place of the global one—is implemented within CAM6. Comparing this experiment with the default configuration of CAM6 reveals precipitation, particularly its variability, to be highly sensitive to the energy budget formulation. Significance Statement This study examines and explains spurious regional sources and sinks of energy in a widely used climate model. These energy errors result from not tracking energy associated with water after it transitions from the vapor phase to either liquid or ice. Instead, the model used a global fixer to offset the energy tendency related to the energy sources and sinks associated with condensed water species. We replace this global fixer with a local one to examine the model sensitivity to the regional energy error and find a large sensitivity in the simulated hydrologic cycle. This work suggests that the underlying thermodynamic assumptions in the model should be revisited to build confidence in the model-simulated regional-scale water and energy cycles. 
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  4. Abstract Marine heatwaves (MHWs), episodic periods of abnormally high sea surface temperature, severely affect marine ecosystems. Large marine ecosystems (LMEs) cover ~22% of the global ocean but account for 95% of global fisheries catches. Yet how climate change affects MHWs over LMEs remains unknown because such LMEs are confined to the coast where low-resolution climate models are known to have biases. Here, using a high-resolution Earth system model and applying a ‘future threshold’ that considers MHWs as anomalous warming above the long-term mean warming of sea surface temperatures, we find that future intensity and annual days of MHWs over the majority of the LMEs remain higher than in the present-day climate. Better resolution of ocean mesoscale eddies enables simulation of more realistic MHWs than low-resolution models. These increases in MHWs under global warming pose a serious threat to LMEs, even if resident organisms could adapt fully to the long-term mean warming. 
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  5. Abstract

    Freshwater ecosystem contributions to the global methane budget remains the most uncertain among natural sources. With warming and accompanying carbon release from thawed permafrost and thermokarst lake expansion, the increase of methane emissions could be large. However, the impact and relative importance of various factors related to warming remain uncertain. Based on diverse lake characteristics incorporated in modeling and observational data, we calibrate and verify a lake biogeochemistry model. The model is then applied to estimate global lake methane emissions and examine the impacts of temperature increase for the first and the last decades of the 21st century under different climate scenarios. We find that current emissions are 24.0 ± 8.4 Tg CH4 yr−1from lakes larger than 0.1 km2, accounting for 11% of the global total natural source as estimated based on atmospheric inversion. Future projections under the RCP8.5 scenario suggest a 58%–86% growth in emissions from lakes. Our model sensitivity analysis indicates that additional carbon substrates from thawing permafrost may enhance methane production under warming in the Arctic. Warming enhanced methane oxidation in lake water can be an effective sink to reduce the net release from global lakes.

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  6. Abstract

    Complex network (CN) is a graph theory‐based depiction of relation shared by various elements of a complex dynamical system such as the atmosphere. Here we apply the concept of CN to understand the directionality and topological structure of summer extreme precipitation events (SEPEs) over the conterminous United States (CONUS). The SEPEs are calculated based on the 95th percentile daily rainfall at 0.5° × 0.5° spatial resolution for CONUS to investigate the multidimensional characteristics of precipitation extremes. The derived CN coefficients (e.g., betweenness centrality, clustering coefficient, orientation, and network divergence) reveal important structural and dynamical information about the topology of the SEPEs and improve understanding of the dominant meteorological patterns. The initiation and propagation of SEPEs from the source zones to the sink zones are identified. The SEPEs are influenced by topography, dominant wind patterns, and moisture sources in terms of their topological structure and spatial dynamics.

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  7. Abstract

    Sub‐grid topographic heterogeneity has large impacts on surface energy balance and land‐atmosphere interactions. However, the impacts of representing sub‐grid topographic effects in land surface models (LSMs) on surface energy balance and boundary conditions remain unclear. This study analyzed and evaluated the impacts of sub‐grid topographic representations on surface energy balance, turbulent heat flux, and scalar (co‐)variances in the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) land model (ELM). Three sub‐grid topographic representations in ELM were compared: (a) the default sub‐grid structure (D), (b) the recently developed sub‐grid topographic structure (T), and (c) high spatial resolution (1KM). Additionally, two different solar radiation schemes in ELM were compared: (a) the default plane‐parallel radiative transfer scheme (PP) and (b) the parameterization scheme (TOP) that accounts for sub‐grid topographic effects on solar radiation. A series of offline simulations with the three grid discretization structures (D, T, and 1KM) and two schemes of solar radiation (TOP and PP) were carried out using the Sierra Nevada, California. 1KM simulations with TOP well capture the spatial heterogeneity of surface fluxes compared to Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer remote sensing data. There are significant differences between TOP and PP in the 1‐km simulated surface energy balance, but the differences in mean values and standard deviations become small when aggregated to the grid scale (i.e., 0.5°). The T configuration better mimics the 1KM simulations with TOP than the D configuration and better captures the sub‐grid topographic effects on surface energy balance and boundary conditions. These results underline the importance of representing sub‐grid topographic heterogeneities in LSMs and motivate future research to understand the sub‐grid topographic effects on land‐atmosphere interactions over mountainous areas.

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  8. Abstract

    Precipitation sustains life and supports human activities, making its prediction one of the most societally relevant challenges in weather and climate modeling. Limitations in modeling precipitation underscore the need for diagnostics and metrics to evaluate precipitation in simulations and predictions. While routine use of basic metrics is important for documenting model skill, more sophisticated diagnostics and metrics aimed at connecting model biases to their sources and revealing precipitation characteristics relevant to how model precipitation is used are critical for improving models and their uses. This paper illustrates examples of exploratory diagnostics and metrics including 1) spatiotemporal characteristics metrics such as diurnal variability, probability of extremes, duration of dry spells, spectral characteristics, and spatiotemporal coherence of precipitation; 2) process-oriented metrics based on the rainfall–moisture coupling and temperature–water vapor environments of precipitation; and 3) phenomena-based metrics focusing on precipitation associated with weather phenomena including low pressure systems, mesoscale convective systems, frontal systems, and atmospheric rivers. Together, these diagnostics and metrics delineate the multifaceted and multiscale nature of precipitation, its relations with the environments, and its generation mechanisms. The metrics are applied to historical simulations from phases 5 and 6 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. Models exhibit diverse skill as measured by the suite of metrics, with very few models consistently ranked as top or bottom performers compared to other models in multiple metrics. Analysis of model skill across metrics and models suggests possible relationships among subsets of metrics, motivating the need for more systematic analysis to understand model biases for informing model development.

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