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A Mechanism of Tropical Precipitation Change due to CO2 Increase

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  • 1 Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba, Japan
  • | 2 Frontier Research System for Global Change, Yokohama, Japan
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Abstract

A recent GCM study indicates that a weakening of tropical circulation associated with a slight increase in tropical precipitation may occur when atmospheric CO2 is increased. To further understand the mechanism of atmospheric temperature and precipitation changes associated with the greenhouse gas increase, a numerical experiment was conducted using an atmospheric general circulation model to investigate the separate effects of CO2 increase and sea surface temperature (SST) increase. It has been shown that the effect of CO2 increase is a reduction of radiative cooling in the lower troposphere, leading to a reduction of tropical precipitation. When atmospheric CO2 concentration is doubled (quadrupled) without changing the SST, the tropical precipitation is reduced by about 3% (6%) in the model. The reduction of radiative cooling is a result of the overlap effect of the CO2 15-μm and water vapor absorption bands. On the other hand, the effect of SST increase is the increase in atmospheric temperature and water vapor, leading to increases in radiative cooling and tropical precipitation. When SST is uniformly raised 2°C without changing the atmospheric CO2 concentration, the tropical precipitation is increased by about 6%.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Masato Sugi, Japan Meteorological Agency, 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan. Email: msugi@met.kishou.go.jp

Abstract

A recent GCM study indicates that a weakening of tropical circulation associated with a slight increase in tropical precipitation may occur when atmospheric CO2 is increased. To further understand the mechanism of atmospheric temperature and precipitation changes associated with the greenhouse gas increase, a numerical experiment was conducted using an atmospheric general circulation model to investigate the separate effects of CO2 increase and sea surface temperature (SST) increase. It has been shown that the effect of CO2 increase is a reduction of radiative cooling in the lower troposphere, leading to a reduction of tropical precipitation. When atmospheric CO2 concentration is doubled (quadrupled) without changing the SST, the tropical precipitation is reduced by about 3% (6%) in the model. The reduction of radiative cooling is a result of the overlap effect of the CO2 15-μm and water vapor absorption bands. On the other hand, the effect of SST increase is the increase in atmospheric temperature and water vapor, leading to increases in radiative cooling and tropical precipitation. When SST is uniformly raised 2°C without changing the atmospheric CO2 concentration, the tropical precipitation is increased by about 6%.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Masato Sugi, Japan Meteorological Agency, 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan. Email: msugi@met.kishou.go.jp

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