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The Response of the Antarctic Oscillation to Increasing and Stabilized Atmospheric CO2

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  • 1 CSIRO Atmospheric Research, Aspendale, Victoria, Australia
  • | 2 School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University, Victoria, Australia
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Abstract

Recent results from greenhouse warming experiments, most of which follow the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) IS92a scenario, have shown that under increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration, the Antarctic Oscillation (AAO) exhibits a positive trend. However, its response during the subsequent CO2 stabilization period has not been explored. In this study, it is shown that the upward trend of the AAO reverses during such a stabilization period. This evolution of an upward trend and a subsequent reversal is present in each ensemble of three greenhouse simulations using three versions of the CSIRO Mark 2 coupled climate model. The evolution is shown to be linked with that of surface temperature, which also displays a corresponding trend and reversal, incorporating the well-known feature of interhemispheric warming asymmetry with smaller warming in the Southern Hemisphere (smaller as latitude increases) than that in the Northern Hemisphere during the transient period, and vice versa during the stabilization period. These results indicate that once CO2 concentration stabilizes, reversal of the AAO trend established during the transient period is likely to be a robust feature, as it is underpinned by the likelihood that latitudinal warming differences will reduce or disappear. The implication is that climatic impacts associated with the AAO trend during the transient period may be reversible if CO2 stabilization is achieved.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Wenju Cai, CSIRO Atmospheric Research, PMB 1, Aspendale, Vic 3195 Australia. wenju.cai@csiro.au

Abstract

Recent results from greenhouse warming experiments, most of which follow the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) IS92a scenario, have shown that under increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration, the Antarctic Oscillation (AAO) exhibits a positive trend. However, its response during the subsequent CO2 stabilization period has not been explored. In this study, it is shown that the upward trend of the AAO reverses during such a stabilization period. This evolution of an upward trend and a subsequent reversal is present in each ensemble of three greenhouse simulations using three versions of the CSIRO Mark 2 coupled climate model. The evolution is shown to be linked with that of surface temperature, which also displays a corresponding trend and reversal, incorporating the well-known feature of interhemispheric warming asymmetry with smaller warming in the Southern Hemisphere (smaller as latitude increases) than that in the Northern Hemisphere during the transient period, and vice versa during the stabilization period. These results indicate that once CO2 concentration stabilizes, reversal of the AAO trend established during the transient period is likely to be a robust feature, as it is underpinned by the likelihood that latitudinal warming differences will reduce or disappear. The implication is that climatic impacts associated with the AAO trend during the transient period may be reversible if CO2 stabilization is achieved.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Wenju Cai, CSIRO Atmospheric Research, PMB 1, Aspendale, Vic 3195 Australia. wenju.cai@csiro.au

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