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Creators/Authors contains: "Xie, Shang-Ping"

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  1. Abstract

    Positive feedbacks in climate processes can make it difficult to identify the primary drivers of climate phenomena. Some recent global climate model (GCM) studies address this issue by controlling the wind stress felt by the surface ocean such that the atmosphere and ocean become mechanically decoupled. Most mechanical decoupling studies have chosen to override wind stress with an annual climatology. In this study we introduce an alternative method of interannually varying overriding which maintains higher frequency momentum forcing of the surface ocean. Using a GCM (NCAR CESM1), we then assess the size of the biases associated with these two methods of overriding by comparing with a freely evolving control integration. We find that overriding with a climatology creates sea surface temperature (SST) biases throughout the global oceans on the order of ±1°C. This is substantially larger than the biases introduced by interannually varying overriding, especially in the tropical Pacific. We attribute the climatological overriding SST biases to a lack of synoptic and subseasonal variability, which causes the mixed layer to be too shallow throughout the global surface ocean. This shoaling of the mixed layer reduces the effective heat capacity of the surface ocean such that SST biases excite atmospheric feedbacks. These results have implications for the reinterpretation of past climatological wind stress overriding studies: past climate signals attributed to momentum coupling may in fact be spurious responses to SST biases.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2025
  2. Abstract

    Since the early 2010s, anthropogenic aerosols have started decreasing in East Asia (EA) while have continued to increase in South Asia (SA). Yet the climate impacts of this Asian aerosol dipole (AAD) pattern remain largely unknown. Using a state-of-the-art climate model, we demonstrate that the climate response is distinctly different between the SA aerosol increases and EA aerosol decreases. The SA aerosol increases lead to ~2.7 times stronger land summer precipitation change within the forced regions than the EA aerosol decreases. Contrastingly, the SA aerosol increases, within the tropical monsoon regime, produce weak and tropically confined responses, while the EA aerosol decreases yield a pronounced northern hemisphere warming aided by extratropical mean westerly and positive air-sea feedbacks over the western North Pacific. By scaling the observed instantaneous shortwave radiative forcing, we reveal that the recent AAD induces a pronounced northern hemisphere extratropical (beyond 30°N) warming (0.024 ± 0.010 °C decade−1), particularly over Europe (0.049 ± 0.009 °C decade−1). These findings highlight the importance of the pattern effect of forcings in driving global climate and have important implications for decadal prediction.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  3. Most state-of-art models project a reduced equatorial Pacific east-west temperature gradient and a weakened Walker circulation under global warming. However, the causes of this robust projection remain elusive. Here, we devise a series of slab ocean model experiments to diagnostically decompose the global warming response into the contributions from the direct carbon dioxide (CO2) forcing, sea ice changes, and regional ocean heat uptake. The CO2forcing dominates the Walker circulation slowdown through enhancing the tropical tropospheric stability. Antarctic sea ice changes and local ocean heat release are the dominant drivers for reduced zonal temperature gradient over the equatorial Pacific, while the Southern Ocean heat uptake opposes this change. Corroborating our model experiments, multimodel analysis shows that the models with greater Southern Ocean heat uptake exhibit less reduction in the temperature gradient and less weakening of the Walker circulation. Therefore, constraining the tropical Pacific projection requires a better insight into Southern Ocean processes.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 12, 2024
  4. Abstract

    The influence of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the Asian monsoon region can persist through the post-ENSO summer, after the sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the tropical Pacific have dissipated. The long persistence of coherent post-ENSO anomalies is caused by a positive feedback due to interbasin ocean–atmospheric coupling, known as the Indo-western Pacific Ocean capacitor (IPOC) effect, although the feedback mechanism itself does not necessarily rely on the antecedence of ENSO events, suggesting the potential for substantial internal variability independent of ENSO. To investigate the respective role of ENSO forcing and non-ENSO internal variability, we conduct ensemble “forecast” experiments with a full-physics, globally coupled atmosphere–ocean model initialized from a multidecadal tropical Pacific pacemaker simulation. The leading mode of internal variability as represented by the forecast-ensemble spread resembles the post-ENSO IPOC, despite the absence of antecedent ENSO forcing by design. The persistent atmospheric and oceanic anomalies in the leading mode highlight the positive feedback mechanism in the internal variability. The large sample size afforded by the ensemble spread allows us to identify robust non-ENSO precursors of summer IPOC variability, including a cool SST patch over the tropical northwestern Pacific, a warming patch in the tropical North Atlantic, and downwelling oceanic Rossby waves in the tropical Indian Ocean south of the equator. The pathways by which the precursors develop into the summer IPOC mode and the implications for improved predictability are discussed.

     
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  5. Turbulence-enhanced mixing of upper ocean heat allows interaction between the tropical atmosphere and cold water masses that impact climate at higher latitudes thereby regulating air–sea coupling and poleward heat transport. Tropical cyclones (TCs) can drastically enhance upper ocean mixing and generate powerful near-inertial internal waves (NIWs) that propagate down into the deep ocean. Globally, downward mixing of heat during TC passage causes warming in the seasonal thermocline and pumps 0.15 to 0.6 PW of heat into the unventilated ocean. The final distribution of excess heat contributed by TCs is needed to understand subsequent consequences for climate; however, it is not well constrained by current observations. Notably, whether or not excess heat supplied by TCs penetrates deep enough to be kept in the ocean beyond the winter season is a matter of debate. Here, we show that NIWs generated by TCs drive thermocline mixing weeks after TC passage and thus greatly deepen the extent of downward heat transfer induced by TCs. Microstructure measurements of the turbulent diffusivity ( κ ) and turbulent heat flux ( J q ) in the Western Pacific before and after the passage of three TCs indicate that mean thermocline values of κ and J q increased by factors of 2 to 7 and 2 to 4 (95% confidence level), respectively, after TC passage. Excess mixing is shown to be associated with the vertical shear of NIWs, demonstrating that studies of TC–climate interactions ought to represent NIWs and their mixing to accurately capture TC effects on background ocean stratification and climate. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 27, 2024
  6. 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. 
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  7. Abstract

    The northeastern Pacific climate system features an extensive low-cloud deck off California on the southeastern flank of the subtropical high that accompanies intense northeasterly trades and relatively low sea surface temperatures (SSTs). This study assesses climatological impacts of the low-cloud deck and their seasonal differences by regionally turning on and off the low-cloud radiative effect in a fully coupled atmosphere–ocean model. The simulations demonstrate that the cloud radiative effect causes a local SST decrease of up to 3°C on an annual average with the response extending southwestward with intensified trade winds, indicative of the wind–evaporation–SST (WES) feedback. This nonlocal wind response is strong in summer, when the SST decrease peaks due to increased shortwave cooling, and persists into autumn. In these seasons when the background SST is high, the lowered SST suppresses deep-convective precipitation that would otherwise occur in the absence of the low-cloud deck. The resultant anomalous diabatic cooling induces a surface anticyclonic response with the intensified trades that promote the WES feedback. Such seasonal enhancement of the atmospheric response does not occur without air–sea couplings. The enhanced trades accompany intensified upper-tropospheric westerlies, strengthening the vertical wind shear that, together with the lowered SST, acts to shield Hawaii from powerful hurricanes. On the basin scale, the anticyclonic surface wind response accelerates the North Pacific subtropical ocean gyre to speed up the Kuroshio by as much as 30%. SST thereby increases along the Kuroshio and its extension, intensifying upward turbulent heat fluxes from the ocean to increase precipitation.

     
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  8. Abstract Cross-equatorial ocean heat transport (OHT) changes have been found to damp meridional shifts of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) induced by hemispheric asymmetries in radiative forcing. Zonal-mean energy transport theories and idealized model simulations have suggested that these OHT changes occur primarily due to wind-driven changes in the Indo-Pacific’s shallow subtropical cells (STCs) and buoyancy-driven changes in the deep Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). In this study we explore the partitioning between buoyancy and momentum forcing in the ocean’s response. We adjust the top-of-atmosphere solar forcing to cool the Northern Hemisphere (NH) extratropics in a novel set of comprehensive climate model simulations designed to isolate buoyancy-forced and momentum-forced changes. In this case of NH high-latitude forcing, we confirm that buoyancy-driven changes in the AMOC dominate in the Atlantic. However, in contrast with prior expectations, buoyancy-driven changes in the STCs are the primary driver of the heat transport changes in the Indo-Pacific. We find that buoyancy-forced Indo-Pacific STC changes transport nearly 4 times the amount of heat across the equator as the shallower wind-driven STC changes. This buoyancy-forced STC response arises from extratropical density perturbations that are amplified by the low cloud feedback and communicated to the tropics by the ventilated thermocline. While the ocean’s specific response is dependent on the forcing scheme, our results suggest that partitioning the ocean’s total response to energy perturbations into buoyancy and momentum forcing provides basin-specific insight into key aspects of how the ocean damps ITCZ migrations that previous zonal-mean frameworks omit. 
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  9. Abstract

    During recent decades, both greenhouse gases (GHGs) and anthropogenic aerosols (AAs) drove major changes in the Earth's energy imbalance. However, their respective fingerprints in changes to ocean heat content (OHC) have been difficult to isolate and detect when global or hemispheric averages are used. Based on a pattern recognition analysis, we show that AAs drive an interhemispheric asymmetry within the 20°‐35° latitude band in historical OHC change due to the southward shift of the atmospheric and ocean circulation system. This forced pattern is distinct from the GHG‐induced pattern, which dominates the asymmetry in higher latitudes. Moreover, it is found that this significant aerosol‐forced OHC trend pattern can only be captured in analyzed periods of 20 years or longer and including 1975–1990. Using these distinct spatiotemporal characteristics, we show that the fingerprint of aerosol climate forcing in ocean observations can be distinguished from both the stronger GHG‐induced signals and internal variability.

     
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