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Diagnosis of Middle-Atmosphere Climate Sensitivity by the Climate Feedback–Response Analysis Method

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  • 1 * Applied Physics Laboratory, The Johns Hopkins University, Laurel, Maryland
  • | 2 Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
  • | 3 Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Lanham, Maryland
  • | 4 GESTAR, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, and The John Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
  • | 5 Atmospheric Chemistry Division, NCAR, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 6 ** Heliophysics Division, NASA, Washington, D.C.
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Abstract

The authors present a new method to diagnose the middle-atmosphere climate sensitivity by extending the climate feedback–response analysis method (CFRAM) for the coupled atmosphere–surface system to the middle atmosphere. The middle-atmosphere CFRAM (MCFRAM) is built on the atmospheric energy equation per unit mass with radiative heating and cooling rates as its major thermal energy sources. MCFRAM preserves CFRAM’s unique feature of additivity, such that partial temperature changes due to variations in external forcing and feedback processes can be added to give a total temperature change for direct comparison with the observed temperature change. In addition, MCFRAM establishes a physical relationship of radiative damping between the energy perturbations associated with various feedback processes and temperature perturbations associated with thermal responses. In this study, MCFRAM is applied to both observations and model output fields to diagnose the middle-atmosphere climate sensitivity. The authors found that the largest component of the middle-atmosphere temperature response to the 11-yr solar cycle (solar maximum vs solar minimum) is the partial temperature change due to the variation of the solar flux. Increasing CO2 cools the middle atmosphere, whereas the partial temperature change due to changes in O3 can be either positive or negative. The application of MCFRAM to model dynamical fields reconfirms the advantage of introducing the residual circulation to characterize middle-atmosphere dynamics in terms of the partial temperature changes. The radiatively driven globally averaged partial temperature change is approximately equal to the observed temperature change, ranging from −0.5 K near 25 km to −1.0 K near 70 km between solar maximum and solar minimum.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Xun Zhu, Applied Physics Laboratory, The Johns Hopkins University, 11100 Johns Hopkins Road, Laurel, MD 20723-6099. E-mail: xun.zhu@jhuapl.edu

Abstract

The authors present a new method to diagnose the middle-atmosphere climate sensitivity by extending the climate feedback–response analysis method (CFRAM) for the coupled atmosphere–surface system to the middle atmosphere. The middle-atmosphere CFRAM (MCFRAM) is built on the atmospheric energy equation per unit mass with radiative heating and cooling rates as its major thermal energy sources. MCFRAM preserves CFRAM’s unique feature of additivity, such that partial temperature changes due to variations in external forcing and feedback processes can be added to give a total temperature change for direct comparison with the observed temperature change. In addition, MCFRAM establishes a physical relationship of radiative damping between the energy perturbations associated with various feedback processes and temperature perturbations associated with thermal responses. In this study, MCFRAM is applied to both observations and model output fields to diagnose the middle-atmosphere climate sensitivity. The authors found that the largest component of the middle-atmosphere temperature response to the 11-yr solar cycle (solar maximum vs solar minimum) is the partial temperature change due to the variation of the solar flux. Increasing CO2 cools the middle atmosphere, whereas the partial temperature change due to changes in O3 can be either positive or negative. The application of MCFRAM to model dynamical fields reconfirms the advantage of introducing the residual circulation to characterize middle-atmosphere dynamics in terms of the partial temperature changes. The radiatively driven globally averaged partial temperature change is approximately equal to the observed temperature change, ranging from −0.5 K near 25 km to −1.0 K near 70 km between solar maximum and solar minimum.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Xun Zhu, Applied Physics Laboratory, The Johns Hopkins University, 11100 Johns Hopkins Road, Laurel, MD 20723-6099. E-mail: xun.zhu@jhuapl.edu
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