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Jiwoo Lee, Kenneth R. Sperber, Peter J. Gleckler, Karl E. Taylor, and Céline J. W. Bonfils

Abstract

We evaluate extratropical modes of variability in the three most recent phases of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3, CMIP5, and CMIP6) to gauge improvement of climate models over time. A suite of high-level metrics is employed to objectively evaluate how well climate models simulate the observed northern annular mode (NAM), North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), Pacific–North America pattern (PNA), southern annular mode (SAM), Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO), North Pacific Oscillation (NPO), and North Pacific Gyre Oscillation (NPGO). We apply a common basis function (CBF) approach that projects model anomalies onto observed empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs), together with the traditional EOF approach, to CMIP Historical and AMIP models. We find simulated spatial patterns of those modes have been significantly improved in the newer models, although the skill improvement is sensitive to the mode and season considered. We identify some potential contributions to the pattern improvement of certain modes (e.g., the Southern Hemisphere jet and high-top vertical coordinate); however, the performance changes are likely attributed to gradual improvement of the base climate and multiple relevant processes. Less performance improvement is evident in the mode amplitude of these modes and systematic overestimation of the mode amplitude in spring remains in the newer climate models. We find that the postdominant season amplitude errors in atmospheric modes are not limited to coupled runs but are often already evident in AMIP simulations. This suggests that rectifying the egregious postdominant season amplitude errors found in many models can be addressed in an atmospheric-only framework, making it more tractable to address in the model development process.

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Minghao Yang, Chongyin Li, Xiong Chen, Yanke Tan, Xin Li, Chao Zhang, and Guiwan Chen

Abstract

The reproducibility of climatology and the midwinter suppression of the cold-season North Pacific storm track (NPST) in historical runs of 18 CMIP6 models is evaluated against the NCEP reanalysis data. The results show that the position of the climatological peak area of 850-hPa meridional eddy heat flux (υT850) is well captured by these models. The spatial patterns of climatological υT850 are basically consistent with the NCEP reanalysis. Generally, NorESM2-LM and CESM2-WACCM present a relatively strong capability to reproduce the climatological amplitude of υT850 with lower RMSE than the other models. Compared with CMIP5 models, the intermodel spread of υT850 climatology among the CMIP6 models is smaller, and their multimodel ensemble is closer to the NCEP reanalysis. The geographical distribution in more than half of the selected models is farther south and east. For the subseasonal variability of υT850, nearly half of the models exhibit a double-peak structure. In contrast, the apparent midwinter suppression in the NPST represented by the 250-hPa filtered meridional wind variance (υυ250) is reproduced by all the selected models. In addition, the present study investigates the possible reasons for simulation biases regarding climatological NPST amplitude. It is found that a higher model horizontal resolution significantly intensifies the climatological υυ250. There is a significant in-phase relationship between climatological υυ250 and the intensity of the East Asian winter monsoon (EAWM). However, the climatological υT850 is not sensitive to the model grid spacing. Additionally, the climatological low-tropospheric atmospheric baroclinicity is uncorrelated with climatological υυ250. The stronger climatological baroclinic energy conversion is associated with the stronger climatological υT850.

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Wenjun Cui, Xiquan Dong, Baike Xi, and Zhe Feng

Abstract

This study uses machine-learning methods, specifically the random-forests (RF) method, on a radar-based mesoscale convective system (MCS) tracking dataset to classify the five types of linear MCS morphology in the contiguous United States during the period 2004–16. The algorithm is trained using radar- and satellite-derived spatial and morphological parameters, along with reanalysis environmental information from a 5-yr manually identified nonlinear mode and five linear MCS modes. The algorithm is then used to automate the classification of linear MCSs over 8 years with high accuracy, providing a systematic, long-term climatology of linear MCSs. Results reveal that nearly 40% of MCSs are classified as linear MCSs, of which one-half of the linear events belong to the type of system having a leading convective line. The occurrence of linear MCSs shows large annual and seasonal variations. On average, 113 linear MCSs occur annually during the warm season (March–October), with most of these events clustered from May through August in the central eastern Great Plains. MCS characteristics, including duration, propagation speed, orientation, and system cloud size, have large variability among the different linear modes. The systems having a trailing convective line and the systems having a back-building area of convection typically move more slowly and have higher precipitation rate, and thus they have higher potential for producing extreme rainfall and flash flooding. Analysis of the environmental conditions associated with linear MCSs show that the storm-relative flow is of most importance in determining the organization mode of linear MCSs.

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Kyle Chudler and Steven A. Rutledge

Abstract

The Propagation of Intraseasonal Oscillations (PISTON) field campaign took place in the waters of the western tropical North Pacific during the late summer and early fall of 2018 and 2019. During both research cruises, the Colorado State University SEA-POL polarimetric C-band weather radar obtained continuous 3D measurements of oceanic precipitation systems. This study provides an overview of the variability in convection observed during the PISTON cruises, and relates this variability to large-scale atmospheric conditions. Using an objective classification algorithm, precipitation features are identified and labeled by their size (isolated, sub-MCS, MCS) and degree of convective organization (nonlinear, linear). It is shown that although large mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) occurred infrequently (present in 13% of radar scans), they contributed a disproportionately large portion (56%) of the total rain volume. Conversely, small isolated features were present in 91% of scans, yet these features contributed just 11% of the total rain volume, with the bulk of the rainfall owing to warm rain production. Convective rain rates and 30-dBZ echo-top heights increased with feature size and degree of organization. MCSs occurred more frequently in periods of low-level southwesterly winds, and when low-level wind shear was enhanced. By compositing radar and sounding data by phases of easterly waves (of which there were several in 2018), troughs are shown to be associated with increased precipitation and a higher relative frequency of MCS feature occurrence, while ridges are shown to be associated with decreased precipitation and a higher relative frequency of isolated convective features.

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Jonathan M. King, Kevin J. Anchukaitis, Jessica E. Tierney, Gregory J. Hakim, Julien Emile-Geay, Feng Zhu, and Rob Wilson

Abstract

We use the Northern Hemisphere Tree-Ring Network Development (NTREND) tree-ring database to examine the effects of using a small, highly sensitive proxy network for paleotemperature data assimilation over the last millennium. We first evaluate our methods using pseudoproxy experiments. These indicate that spatial assimilations using this network are skillful in the extratropical Northern Hemisphere and improve on previous NTREND reconstructions based on point-by-point regression. We also find our method is sensitive to climate model biases when the number of sites becomes small. Based on these experiments, we then assimilate the real NTREND network. To quantify model prior uncertainty, we produce 10 separate reconstructions, each assimilating a different climate model. These reconstructions are most dissimilar prior to 1100 CE, when the network becomes sparse, but show greater consistency as the network grows. Temporal variability is also underestimated before 1100 CE. Our assimilation method produces spatial uncertainty estimates, and these identify tree-line North America and eastern Siberia as regions that would most benefit from development of new millennial-length temperature-sensitive tree-ring records. We compare our multimodel mean reconstruction to five existing paleotemperature products to examine the range of reconstructed responses to radiative forcing. We find substantial differences in the spatial patterns and magnitudes of reconstructed responses to volcanic eruptions and in the transition between the Medieval epoch and Little Ice Age. These extant uncertainties call for the development of a paleoclimate reconstruction intercomparison framework for systematically examining the consequences of proxy network composition and reconstruction methodology and for continued expansion of tree-ring proxy networks.

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Shaohua Chen, Haikun Zhao, Philp J. Klotzbach, Graciela B. Raga, Jian Cao, and Chao Wang

Abstract

This study analyzes decadal modulation of transbasin variability (TBV) on extended boreal summer (May–October) tropical cyclone frequency (TCF) over the western North Pacific (WNP), central-eastern North Pacific (CENP), and North Atlantic (NATL) basins. There are distinct decadal regimes (P1: 1979–97, P2: 1998–2008, and P3: 2009–19) with changes in the interannual relationship between TBV and TCF over these three basins. During P1 and P3, there is a significant interannual TBV–TCF relationship over the CENP and NATL, but these relationships become insignificant during P2. Changes in the interannual TBV–TCF relationship over the WNP are opposite to those over the CENP and NATL basins, with significant relationship during P2 but insignificant relationship during P1 and P3. Changes in all three basins coincide with decadal changes in large-scale parameters associated with TBV. Consistent basinwide changes in lower-tropospheric vorticity (vertical wind shear) associated with TBV appear to be largely responsible for changes in total TCF over the NATL (CENP) during P1 and P3. In contrast, a dipole pattern in lower-tropospheric vorticity and vertical wind shear anomalies associated with TBV over the NATL and CENP basins occurs during P2, leading to an insignificant interannual TBV–TCF relationship over the NATL and CENP basins. Over the WNP, a basinwide consistent distribution of lower-tropospheric vorticity associated with TBV is consistent with changes in total TCF during P2, whereas a dipole correlation pattern between TBV-associated factors and TCF during P1 and P3 leads to a weak correlation between TBV and WNP TCF. These three distinct observed decadal regimes may be associated with interactions between ENSO and the Pacific decadal oscillation on decadal time scales.

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Jian Rao, Chaim I. Garfinkel, and Ian P. White

Abstract

Using the Model of an Idealized Moist Atmosphere (MiMA) capable of spontaneously generating a quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO), the gradual establishment of the extratropical response to the QBO is explored. The period and magnitude of the QBO and the magnitude of the polar Holton–Tan (HT) relationship is simulated in a free-running configuration of MiMA, comparable to that in state-of-the-art climate models. To isolate mechanisms whereby the QBO influences variability outside the tropical atmosphere, a series of branch experiments are performed with nudged QBO winds. When easterly QBO winds maximized around 30 hPa are relaxed, an Eliassen–Palm (E-P) flux divergence dipole quickly forms in the extratropical middle stratosphere as a direct response to the tropical meridional circulation, in contrast to the HT mechanism, which is associated with wave propagation near the zero wind line. This meridional circulation response to the relaxed QBO winds develops within the first 10 days in seasonally varying and fixed-seasonal experiments. No detectable changes in upward propagation of waves in the midlatitude lowermost stratosphere are evident for at least 20 days after branching, with the first changes only evident after 20 days in perpetual midwinter and season-varying runs, but after 40 days in perpetual November runs. The polar vortex begins to respond around the 20th day, and subsequently a near-surface response in the Atlantic Ocean sector forms in mid-to-late winter runs. These results suggest that the maximum near-surface response observed in mid-to-late winter is not simply due to a random seasonal synchronization of the QBO phase, but is also due to the long lag of the surface response to a QBO relaxation in early winter and the short lag of the surface response to a QBO relaxation in mid-to-late winter.

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Li Xu, Qing Zhu, William J. Riley, Yang Chen, Hailong Wang, Po-Lun Ma, and James T. Randerson

Abstract

Fire-emitted aerosols play an important role in influencing Earth’s climate, directly by scattering and absorbing radiation and indirectly by influencing cloud microphysics. The quantification of fire–aerosol interactions, however, remains challenging and subject to uncertainties in emissions, plume parameterizations, and aerosol properties. Here we optimized fire-associated aerosol emissions in the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) using the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED) and AERONET aerosol optical depth (AOD) observations during 1997–2016. We distributed fire emissions vertically using smoke plume heights from Multiangle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) satellite observations. From the optimization, we estimate that global fires emit 45.5 Tg yr−1 of primary particulate organic matter and 3.9 Tg yr−1 of black carbon. We then performed two climate simulations with and without the optimized fire emissions. We find that fire aerosols significantly increase global AOD by 14% ± 7% and contribute to a reduction in net shortwave radiation at the surface (−2.3 ± 0.5 W m−2). Together, fire-induced direct and indirect aerosol effects cause annual mean global land surface air temperature to decrease by 0.17° ± 0.15°C, relative humidity to increase by 0.4% ± 0.3%, and diffuse light fraction to increase by 0.5% ± 0.3%. In response, GPP declines by 2.8 Pg C yr−1 as a result of large positive drivers (decreases in temperature and increases in humidity and diffuse light), nearly cancelling out large negative drivers (decreases in shortwave radiation and soil moisture). Our analysis highlights the importance of fire aerosols in modifying surface climate and photosynthesis across the tropics.

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Jake W. Casselman, Andréa S. Taschetto, and Daniela I. V. Domeisen

Abstract

El Niño–Southern Oscillation can influence the tropical North Atlantic (TNA), leading to anomalous sea surface temperatures (SSTs) at a lag of several months. Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain this teleconnection. These mechanisms include both tropical and extratropical pathways, contributing to anomalous trade winds and static stability over the TNA region. The TNA SST response to ENSO has been suggested to be nonlinear. Yet the overall linearity of the ENSO–TNA teleconnection via the two pathways remains unclear. Here we use reanalysis data to confirm that the SST anomaly (SSTA) in the TNA is nonlinear with respect to the strength of the SST forcing in the tropical Pacific, as further increases in El Niño magnitudes cease to create further increases of the TNA SSTA. We further show that the tropical pathway is more linear than the extratropical pathway by subdividing the interbasin connection into extratropical and tropical pathways. This is confirmed by a climate model participating in the CMIP5. The extratropical pathway is modulated by the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the location of the SSTA in the Pacific, but this modulation insufficiently explains the nonlinearity in TNA SSTA. As neither extratropical nor tropical pathways can explain the nonlinearity, this suggests that external factors are at play. Further analysis shows that the TNA SSTA is highly influenced by the preconditioning of the tropical Atlantic SST. This preconditioning is found to be associated with the NAO through SST-tripole patterns.

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D. J. Webb, P. Spence, R. M. Holmes, and M. H. England

Abstract

The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) plays a key role in determining the distribution of heat and nutrients in the global ocean. Climate models suggest that Southern Ocean winds will strengthen and shift poleward in the future, which could have implications for future AMOC trends. Using a coupled global–ocean sea ice model at 1/4° horizontal resolution, we study the response of the North Atlantic overturning to two anomalous Southern Ocean wind-forcing scenarios; namely, a strengthening (τ +15%) and a poleward intensification (τ4°S+15%). In both scenarios, a strengthening in the North Atlantic overturning develops within a decade, with a much stronger response in the τ4°S+15% case. In τ4°S+15%, we find that the primary link between the North Atlantic response and the Southern Ocean forcing is via the propagation of baroclinic waves. In fact, due to the rapid northward propagation of these waves, changes in the AMOC in the τ4°S+15% case appear to originate in the North Atlantic and propagate southward, whereas in the τ +15% case AMOC anomalies propagate northward from the Southern Ocean. We find the difference to be predominately caused by the sign of the baroclinic waves propagating from the forcing region into the North Atlantic: downwelling in the τ +15% case versus upwelling in the τ4°S+15% case. In the τ4°S+15% case, upwelling waves propagate into the NADW formation regions along shelf-slope topography bringing dense water to the surface. This reduces vertical density gradients leading to deeper wintertime convective overturn of surface waters and an intensification of the AMOC.

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