The Role of Diabatic Heating in the Midlatitude Atmospheric Circulation Response to Climate Change

Soumik Ghosh aDepartment of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
bDepartment of Natural Sciences, The Open University of Israel, Ra’anana, Israel

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Orli Lachmy bDepartment of Natural Sciences, The Open University of Israel, Ra’anana, Israel

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Yohai Kaspi aDepartment of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

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Abstract

Climate models generally predict a poleward shift of the midlatitude circulation in response to climate change induced by increased greenhouse gas concentration, but the intermodel spread of the eddy-driven jet shift is large and poorly understood. Recent studies point to the significance of midlatitude midtropospheric diabatic heating for the intermodel spread in the jet latitude. To examine the role of diabatic heating in the jet response to climate change, a series of simulations are performed using an idealized aquaplanet model. It is found that both increased CO2 concentration and increased saturation vapor pressure induce a similar warming response, leading to a poleward and upward shift of the midlatitude circulation. An exception to this poleward shift is found for a certain range of temperatures, where the eddy-driven jet shifts equatorward, while the latitude of the eddy heat flux remains essentially unchanged. This equatorward jet shift is explained by the connection between the zonal-mean momentum and heat budgets: increased diabatic heating in the midlatitude midtroposphere balances the cooling by the Ferrel cell ascending branch, enabling an equatorward shift of the Ferrel cell streamfunction and eddy-driven jet, while the latitude of the eddy heat flux remains unchanged. The equatorward jet shift and the strengthening of the midlatitude diabatic heating are found to be sensitive to the model resolution. The implications of these results for a potential reduction in the jet shift uncertainty through the improvement of convective parameterizations are discussed.

Significance Statement

The latitude of the eddy-driven jet displays considerable variation in climate models, and the factors influencing this variability are poorly understood. This work connects the strength of midlatitude diabatic heating to the structure of the midlatitude circulation and the eddy-driven jet latitude. The direction of the eddy-driven jet shift in response to climate change is found to depend on the diabatic heating response, which in turn depends on the parameterized convective heating. These results highlight the role of convective parameterizations in the representation of the midlatitude circulation in climate models. Additionally, the results imply that the eddy-driven jet shift cannot be explained solely based on the storm-track response to climate change, in contrast with previously suggested explanations.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Abstract

Climate models generally predict a poleward shift of the midlatitude circulation in response to climate change induced by increased greenhouse gas concentration, but the intermodel spread of the eddy-driven jet shift is large and poorly understood. Recent studies point to the significance of midlatitude midtropospheric diabatic heating for the intermodel spread in the jet latitude. To examine the role of diabatic heating in the jet response to climate change, a series of simulations are performed using an idealized aquaplanet model. It is found that both increased CO2 concentration and increased saturation vapor pressure induce a similar warming response, leading to a poleward and upward shift of the midlatitude circulation. An exception to this poleward shift is found for a certain range of temperatures, where the eddy-driven jet shifts equatorward, while the latitude of the eddy heat flux remains essentially unchanged. This equatorward jet shift is explained by the connection between the zonal-mean momentum and heat budgets: increased diabatic heating in the midlatitude midtroposphere balances the cooling by the Ferrel cell ascending branch, enabling an equatorward shift of the Ferrel cell streamfunction and eddy-driven jet, while the latitude of the eddy heat flux remains unchanged. The equatorward jet shift and the strengthening of the midlatitude diabatic heating are found to be sensitive to the model resolution. The implications of these results for a potential reduction in the jet shift uncertainty through the improvement of convective parameterizations are discussed.

Significance Statement

The latitude of the eddy-driven jet displays considerable variation in climate models, and the factors influencing this variability are poorly understood. This work connects the strength of midlatitude diabatic heating to the structure of the midlatitude circulation and the eddy-driven jet latitude. The direction of the eddy-driven jet shift in response to climate change is found to depend on the diabatic heating response, which in turn depends on the parameterized convective heating. These results highlight the role of convective parameterizations in the representation of the midlatitude circulation in climate models. Additionally, the results imply that the eddy-driven jet shift cannot be explained solely based on the storm-track response to climate change, in contrast with previously suggested explanations.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

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