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Anthropogenic and Natural Contributions to the Lengthening of the Summer Season in the Northern Hemisphere

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  • 1 Division of Environmental Science and Engineering, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Pohang, Gyeongbuk, South Korea
  • 2 Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Abstract

Observed long-term variations in summer season timing and length in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) continents and their subregions were analyzed using temperature-based indices. The climatological mean showed coastal–inland contrast; summer starts and ends earlier inland than in coastal areas because of differences in heat capacity. Observations for the past 60 years (1953–2012) show lengthening of the summer season with earlier summer onset and delayed summer withdrawal across the NH. The summer onset advance contributed more to the observed increase in summer season length in many regions than the delay of summer withdrawal. To understand anthropogenic and natural contributions to the observed change, summer season trends from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) multimodel simulations forced with the observed external forcings [anthropogenic plus natural forcing (ALL), natural forcing only (NAT), and greenhouse gas forcing only (GHG)] were analyzed. ALL and GHG simulations were found to reproduce the overall observed global and regional lengthening trends, but NAT had negligible trends, which implies that increased greenhouse gases were the main cause of the observed changes. However, ALL runs tend to underestimate the observed trend of summer onset and overestimate that of withdrawal, the causes of which remain to be determined. Possible contributions of multidecadal variabilities, such as Pacific decadal oscillation and Atlantic multidecadal oscillation, to the observed regional trends in summer season length were also assessed. The results suggest that multidecadal variability can explain a moderate portion (about ±10%) of the observed trends in summer season length, mainly over the high latitudes.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Seung-Ki Min, skmin@postech.ac.kr

Abstract

Observed long-term variations in summer season timing and length in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) continents and their subregions were analyzed using temperature-based indices. The climatological mean showed coastal–inland contrast; summer starts and ends earlier inland than in coastal areas because of differences in heat capacity. Observations for the past 60 years (1953–2012) show lengthening of the summer season with earlier summer onset and delayed summer withdrawal across the NH. The summer onset advance contributed more to the observed increase in summer season length in many regions than the delay of summer withdrawal. To understand anthropogenic and natural contributions to the observed change, summer season trends from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) multimodel simulations forced with the observed external forcings [anthropogenic plus natural forcing (ALL), natural forcing only (NAT), and greenhouse gas forcing only (GHG)] were analyzed. ALL and GHG simulations were found to reproduce the overall observed global and regional lengthening trends, but NAT had negligible trends, which implies that increased greenhouse gases were the main cause of the observed changes. However, ALL runs tend to underestimate the observed trend of summer onset and overestimate that of withdrawal, the causes of which remain to be determined. Possible contributions of multidecadal variabilities, such as Pacific decadal oscillation and Atlantic multidecadal oscillation, to the observed regional trends in summer season length were also assessed. The results suggest that multidecadal variability can explain a moderate portion (about ±10%) of the observed trends in summer season length, mainly over the high latitudes.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Seung-Ki Min, skmin@postech.ac.kr
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