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Atmospheric Circulation Response to an Instantaneous Doubling of Carbon Dioxide. Part I: Model Experiments and Transient Thermal Response in the Troposphere

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  • 1 Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University, New York, New York
  • | 2 Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, New York
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Abstract

This study aims to understand the dynamical mechanisms driving the changes in the general circulation of the atmosphere due to increased carbon dioxide (CO2) by looking into the transient step-by-step adjustment of the circulation. The transient atmospheric adjustment is examined using the National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Atmosphere Model, version 3, coupled to a slab ocean model, and the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is uniformly and instantaneously doubled. The thermal structure and circulation response is well established after one year of integration, with the magnitudes gradually increasing afterward toward quasi equilibrium. Tropical upper-tropospheric warming occurs in the first month. The expansion of the warming in the mid- and upper troposphere to the subtropics occurs later and is found to be primarily dynamically driven due to the intensification of transient eddy momentum flux convergence and resulting anomalous descending motion in this region. The poleward displacement of the midlatitude tropospheric jet streams occurs together with the change in eddy momentum flux convergence, but only after the intensification of the subpolar westerlies in the stratosphere. The results demonstrate the importance of the tropospheric eddies in setting up the extratropical tropospheric response to global warming.

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Contribution Number 7516.

Corresponding author address: Yutian Wu, Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University, S.W. Mudd Building, 500 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027. E-mail: yw2225@columbia.edu

Abstract

This study aims to understand the dynamical mechanisms driving the changes in the general circulation of the atmosphere due to increased carbon dioxide (CO2) by looking into the transient step-by-step adjustment of the circulation. The transient atmospheric adjustment is examined using the National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Atmosphere Model, version 3, coupled to a slab ocean model, and the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is uniformly and instantaneously doubled. The thermal structure and circulation response is well established after one year of integration, with the magnitudes gradually increasing afterward toward quasi equilibrium. Tropical upper-tropospheric warming occurs in the first month. The expansion of the warming in the mid- and upper troposphere to the subtropics occurs later and is found to be primarily dynamically driven due to the intensification of transient eddy momentum flux convergence and resulting anomalous descending motion in this region. The poleward displacement of the midlatitude tropospheric jet streams occurs together with the change in eddy momentum flux convergence, but only after the intensification of the subpolar westerlies in the stratosphere. The results demonstrate the importance of the tropospheric eddies in setting up the extratropical tropospheric response to global warming.

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Contribution Number 7516.

Corresponding author address: Yutian Wu, Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University, S.W. Mudd Building, 500 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027. E-mail: yw2225@columbia.edu
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