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  1. Abstract

    The trends over recent decades in tropical Pacific sea surface and upper ocean temperature are examined in observations-based products, an ocean reanalysis and the latest models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase six and the Multimodel Large Ensembles Archive. Comparison is made using three metrics of sea surface temperature (SST) trend—the east–west and north–south SST gradients and a pattern correlation for the equatorial region—as well as change in thermocline depth. It is shown that the latest generation of models persist in not reproducing the observations-based SST trends as a response to radiative forcing and that the latter are at the far edge or beyond the range of modeled internal variability. The observed combination of thermocline shoaling and lack of warming in the equatorial cold tongue upwelling region is similarly at the extreme limit of modeled behavior. The persistence over the last century and a half of the observed trend toward an enhanced east–west SST gradient and, in four of five observed gridded datasets, to an enhanced equatorial north–south SST gradient, is also at the limit of model behavior. It is concluded that it is extremely unlikely that the observed trends are consistent with modeled internal variability. Instead, themore »results support the argument that the observed trends are a response to radiative forcing in which an enhanced east–west SST gradient and thermocline shoaling are key and that the latest generation of climate models continue to be unable to simulate this aspect of climate change.

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  2. Abstract The Indian Ocean has an intriguing intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) south of the equator year-round, which remains largely unexplored. Here we investigate this Indian Ocean ITCZ and the mechanisms for its origin. With a weak semiannual cycle, this ITCZ peaks in January–February with the strongest rainfall and southernmost location and a northeast–southwest orientation from the Maritime Continent to Madagascar, reaches a minimum around May with a zonal orientation, grows until its secondary maximum around September with a northwest–southeast orientation, weakens slightly until December, and then regains its mature phase in January. During austral summer, the Indian Ocean ITCZ exists over maximum surface moist static energy (MSE), consistent with convective quasi-equilibrium theory. This relationship breaks up during boreal summer when the surface MSE maximizes in the northern monsoon region. The position and orientation of the Indian Ocean ITCZ can be simulated well in both a linear dynamical model and the state-of-the-art Community Atmosphere Model version 6 (CAM6) when driven by observed sea surface temperature (SST). To quantify the contributions of the planetary boundary layer (PBL) and free-atmosphere processes to this ITCZ, we homogenize the free-atmosphere diabatic heating over the Indian Ocean in CAM6. In response, the ITCZ weakens significantly, owingmore »to a weakened circulation and deep convection. Therefore, in CAM6, the SST drives the Indian Ocean ITCZ directly through PBL processes and indirectly via free-atmosphere diabatic heating. Their contributions are comparable during most seasons, except during the austral summer when the free-atmosphere diabatic heating dominates the mature-phase ITCZ. Significance Statement The intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) is the globe-encircling band where trade winds converge and strong rainfall occurs in the tropics. Its rains provide life-supporting water to billions of people. Its associated latent heating invigorates the tropical atmospheric circulation and influences climate and weather across the planet. The ITCZ is located north of the equator in most tropical oceans, except in the Indian Ocean where it sits south of the equator year-around. In contrast to the well-known northern ITCZs, the origin of the southern ITCZ in the Indian Ocean remains unknown. This work provides the first explanation for how ocean surface temperature works together with processes in the lower and upper atmosphere to shape the unique ITCZ in the Indian Ocean.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 15, 2023
  3. Abstract. Anthropogenic aerosols (AAs) induce global and regionaltropospheric circulation adjustments due to the radiative energyperturbations. The overall cooling effects of AA, which mask a portion ofglobal warming, have been the subject of many studies but still have largeuncertainty. The interhemispheric contrast in AA forcing has also beendemonstrated to induce a major shift in atmospheric circulation. However,the zonal redistribution of AA emissions since start of the 20th century, with anotable decline in the Western Hemisphere (North America and Europe) and acontinuous increase in the Eastern Hemisphere (South Asia and East Asia),has received less attention. Here we utilize four sets of single-model initial-condition large-ensemblesimulations with various combinations of external forcings to quantify theradiative and circulation responses due to the spatial redistribution of AAforcing during 1980–2020. In particular, we focus on the distinct climateresponses due to fossil-fuel-related (FF) aerosols emitted from the Western Hemisphere (WH) versus the Eastern Hemisphere (EH). The zonal (west to east) redistribution of FF aerosol emission since the1980s leads to a weakening negative radiative forcing over the WHmid-to-high latitudes and an enhancing negative radiative forcing over theEH at lower latitudes. Overall, the FF aerosol leads to a northward shift of the Hadley cell and an equatorward shift of the Northernmore »Hemisphere (NH) jet stream. Here, two sets of regional FF simulations (Fix_EastFF1920and Fix_WestFF1920) are performed to separate the roles ofzonally asymmetric aerosol forcings. We find that the WH aerosol forcing,located in the extratropics, dominates the northward shift of the Hadley cell by inducing an interhemispheric imbalance in radiative forcing. On the other hand, the EH aerosol forcing, located closer to the tropics, dominates the equatorward shift of the NH jet stream. The consistent relationship between the jet stream shift and the top-of-atmosphere net solar flux (FSNTOA) gradient suggests that the latter serves as a rule-of-thumb guidance for the expected shift of the NH jet stream. The surface effect of EH aerosol forcing (mainly from low- to midlatitudes)is confined more locally and only induces weak warming over the northeastern Pacific and North Atlantic. In contrast, the WH aerosol reduction leads to a large-scale warming over NH mid-to-high latitudes that largely offsets the cooling over the northeastern Pacific due to EH aerosols. The simulated competing roles of regional aerosol forcings in drivingatmospheric circulation and surface temperature responses during the recentdecades highlight the importance of considering zonally asymmetric forcings(west to east) and also their meridional locations within the NH (tropicalvs. extratropical).« less
  4. 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.