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  1. Abstract

    The variability of the summer North Pacific Subtropical High (NPSH) has substantial socioeconomic impacts. However, state‐of‐the‐art climate models significantly disagree on the response of the NPSH to anthropogenic warming. Inter‐model spread in NPSH projections originates from models' inconsistency in simulating tropical precipitation changes. This inconsistency in precipitation changes is partly due to inter‐model spread in tropical sea surface temperature (SST) changes, but it can also occur independently of uncertainty in SST changes. Here, we show that both types of precipitation uncertainty influence the NPSH via the Matsuno‐Gill wave response, but their relative impact varies by region. Through the modulation of low cloud fraction, inter‐model spread of the NPSH can have a further impact on extra‐tropical land surface temperature. The teleconnection between tropical precipitation and the NPSH is examined through a series of numerical experiments.

     
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  2. Abstract

    The impact of increased model horizontal resolution on climate prediction performance is examined by comparing results from low-resolution (LR) and high-resolution (HR) decadal prediction simulations conducted with the Community Earth System Model (CESM). There is general improvement in global skill and signal-to-noise characteristics, with particularly noteworthy improvements in the eastern tropical Pacific, when resolution is increased from order 1° in all components to order 0.1°/0.25° in the ocean/atmosphere. A key advance in the ocean eddy-resolving HR system is the reduction of unrealistic warming in the Southern Ocean (SO) which we hypothesize has global ramifications through its impacts on tropical Pacific multidecadal variability. The results suggest that accurate representation of SO processes is critical for improving decadal climate predictions globally and for addressing longstanding issues with coupled climate model simulations of recent Earth system change.

     
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  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2024
  4. Abstract Extreme heat events are a threat to human health, productivity, and food supply, so understanding their drivers is critical to adaptation and resilience. Anticyclonic circulation and certain quasi-stationary Rossby wave patterns are well known to coincide with heatwaves, and soil moisture deficits amplify extreme heat in some regions. However, the relative roles of these two factors in causing heatwaves is still unclear. Here we use constructed circulation analogs to estimate the contribution of atmospheric circulation to heatwaves in the United States in the Community Earth System Model version 1 (CESM1) preindustrial control simulations. After accounting for the component of the heatwaves explained by circulation, we explore the relationship between the residual temperature anomalies and soil moisture. We find that circulation explains over 85% of heatwave temperature anomalies in the eastern and western United States but only 75%–85% in the central United States. In this region, there is a significant negative correlation between soil moisture the week before the heatwave and the strength of the heatwave that explains additional variance. Further, for the hottest central U.S. heatwaves, positive temperature anomalies and negative soil moisture anomalies are evident over a month before heatwave onset. These results provide evidence that positive land–atmosphere feedbacks may be amplifying heatwaves in the central United States and demonstrate the geographic heterogeneity in the relative importance of the land and atmosphere for heatwave development. Analysis of future circulation and soil moisture in the CESM1 Large Ensemble indicates that, over parts of the United States, both may be trending toward greater heatwave likelihood. 
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  5. Abstract By summer 2021 moderate to exceptional drought impacted 28% of North America, focused west of the Mississippi, with serious impacts on fire, water resources, and agriculture. Here, using reanalyses and SST-forced climate models, we examine the onset and development of this southwestern drought from its inception in summer 2020 through winter and spring 2020/21. The drought severity in summer 2021 resulted from four consecutive prior seasons in which precipitation in the southwest United States was the lowest on record or, at least, extremely dry. The dry conditions in summer 2020 arose from internal atmospheric variability but are beyond the range of what the studied atmosphere models simulate for that season. From winter 2020 through spring 2021 the worsening drought conditions were guided by the development of a La Niña in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Decadal variability in the Pacific Ocean aided drought in the southern part of the region by driving the cool season to be drier during the last two decades. There is also evidence that the southern part of the region in spring is drying due to human-driven climate change. In sum the drought onset was driven by a combination of internal atmospheric variability and interannual climate variability and aided by natural decadal variability and human-driven climate change. 
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  6. Abstract Understanding the roles of land surface conditions and atmospheric circulation on continental daily temperature variance is key to improving predictions of temperature extremes. Evaporative resistance ( r s , hereafter), a function of the land cover type, reflects the ease with which water can be evaporated or transpired and is a strong control on land-atmosphere interactions. This study explores the effects of r s perturbations on summer daily temperature variance using the Simple Land Interface Model (SLIM) by mimicking, for r s only, a global land cover conversion from forest to crop/grassland. Decreasing r s causes a global cooling. The cooling is larger in wetter areas and weaker in drier areas, and primarily results from perturbations in shortwave radiation (SW) and latent heat flux (LH). Decreasing r s enhances cloud cover due to greater land surface evaporation and thus reduces incoming SW over most land areas. When r s decreases, wetter areas experience strong evaporative cooling, while drier areas become more moisture-limited and thus experience less cooling. Thermal advection further shapes the temperature response by damping the combined impacts of SWand LH. Temperature variance increases in drier areas and decreases in wetter areas as r s decreases. The temperature variance changes can be largely explained from changes in the combined variance of SW and LH, including an important contribution of changes in the covariance of SW and LH. In contrast, the effects of changes in thermal advection variance mainly affect the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes. 
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  7. Anthropogenically forced-warming and La Niña forced-precipitation deficits caused at least a sixfold risk increase for compound extreme low precipitation and high temperature in California–Nevada from October 2020 to September 2021. 
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  8. Climate change projections consistently demonstrate that warming temperatures and dwindling seasonal snowpack will elicit cascading effects on ecosystem function and water resource availability. Despite this consensus, little is known about potential changes in the variability of ecohydrological conditions, which is also required to inform climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies. Considering potential changes in ecohydrological variability is critical to evaluating the emergence of trends, assessing the likelihood of extreme events such as floods and droughts, and identifying when tipping points may be reached that fundamentally alter ecohydrological function. Using a single-model Large Ensemble with sophisticated terrestrial ecosystem representation, we characterize projected changes in the mean state and variability of ecohydrological processes in historically snow-dominated regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Widespread snowpack reductions, earlier snowmelt timing, longer growing seasons, drier soils, and increased fire risk are projected for this century under a high-emissions scenario. In addition to these changes in the mean state, increased variability in winter snowmelt will increase growing-season water deficits and increase the stochasticity of runoff. Thus, with warming, declining snowpack loses its dependable buffering capacity so that runoff quantity and timing more closely reflect the episodic characteristics of precipitation. This results in a declining predictability of annual runoff from maximum snow water equivalent, which has critical implications for ecosystem stress and water resource management. Our results suggest that there is a strong likelihood of pervasive alterations to ecohydrological function that may be expected with climate change. 
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  9. Abstract

    The 2021 Pacific Northwest heatwave featured record‐smashing high temperatures, raising questions about whether extremes are changing faster than the mean, and challenging our ability to estimate the probability of the event. Here, we identify and draw on the strong relationship between the climatological higher‐order statistics of temperature (skewness and kurtosis) and the magnitude of extreme events to quantify the likelihood of comparable events using a large climate model ensemble (Community Earth System Model version 2 Large Ensemble [CESM2‐LE]). In general, CESM2 can simulate temperature anomalies as extreme as those observed in 2021, but they are rare: temperature anomalies that exceed 4.5σoccur with an approximate frequency of one in a hundred thousand years. The historical data does not indicate that the upper tail of temperature is warming faster than the mean; however, future projections for locations with similar climatological moments to the Pacific Northwest do show significant positive trends in the probability of the most extreme events.

     
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