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Nicholas Siler, Adriana Bailey, Gerard H. Roe, Christo Buizert, Bradley Markle, and David Noone

Abstract

The stable isotope ratios of oxygen and hydrogen in polar ice cores are known to record environmental change, and they have been widely used as a paleothermometer. Although it is known to be a simplification, the relationship is often explained by invoking a single condensation pathway with progressive distillation to the temperature at the location of the ice core. In reality, the physical factors are complicated, and recent studies have identified robust aspects of the hydrologic cycle’s response to climate change that could influence the isotope–temperature relationship. In this study, we introduce a new zonal-mean isotope model derived from radiative transfer theory and incorporate it into a recently developed moist energy balance climate model (MEBM), thus providing an internally consistent representation of the physical coupling between temperature, hydrology, and isotope ratios in the zonal-mean climate. The isotope model reproduces the observed pattern of meteoric δ 18O in the modern climate and allows us to evaluate the relative importance of different processes for the temporal correlation between δ 18O and temperature at high latitudes. We find that the positive temporal correlation in polar ice cores is predominantly a result of suppressed high-latitude evaporation with cooling, rather than local temperature changes. The same mechanism also explains the difference in the strength of the isotope–temperature relationship between Greenland and Antarctica.

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Siyu Zhao, Rong Fu, Yizhou Zhuang, and Gaoyun Wang

Abstract

We have developed two statistical models for extended seasonal predictions of the upper Colorado River basin (UCRB) natural streamflow during April–July: a stepwise linear regression (reduced to a simple regression with one predictor) and a neural network model. Monthly, basin-averaged soil moisture, snow water equivalent (SWE), precipitation, and the Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) are selected as potential predictors. Pacific SST predictors (PSPs) are derived from a dipole pattern over the Pacific (30°S–65°N) that is correlated with the lagging streamflow. For both models, the correlation between the hindcasted and observed streamflow exceeds 0.60 for lead times less than 4 months using soil moisture, SWE, and precipitation as predictors. This correlation is higher than that of an autoregression model (correlation ~ 0.50). Since these land surface and atmospheric variables have no statistically significant correlations with the streamflow, PSPs are then incorporated into the models. The two models have a correlation of ~0.50 using PSPs alone for lead times from 6 to 9 months, and such skills are probably associated with stronger correlation between SST and streamflow in recent decades. The similar prediction skills between the two models suggest a largely linear system between SST and streamflow. Four predictors together can further improve short-lead prediction skills (correlation ~ 0.80). Therefore, our results confirm the advantage of the Pacific SST information in predicting the UCRB streamflow with a long lead time and can provide useful climate information for water supply planning and decisions.

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D. M. Morake, R. C. Blamey, and C. J. C. Reason

Abstract

A climatology of large, long-lived mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) over eastern South Africa for the extended austral summer (September–April) from 1985 to 2008 is presented. On average, 63 MCSs occur here in summer, but with considerable interannual variability in frequency. The systems mainly occur between November and March, with a December peak. This seasonal cycle in MCS activity is shown to coincide with favorable CAPE and vertical shear profiles across the domain. Most systems tend to occur along the eastern escarpment and adjacent warm waters of the northern Agulhas Current with a nocturnal life cycle. Typically, initiation begins in the early afternoon, MCS status is reached midafternoon, maximum extent early in the night, and termination around midnight or shortly thereafter. It is found that most MCSs initiate over land, but systems that initiate over the ocean tend to last longer than those that develop over land. The results also show that there are differences in the seasonal cycle between continental and oceanic MCSs, with oceanic systems containing two intraseasonal peaks (December and April). There is a relatively strong positive relationship between the southern annular mode (SAM) and early summer MCS frequency. For the late summer, the frequency of MCSs appears related to the strength of the Mascarene high and Mozambique Channel trough, which modulate the inflow of moisture into eastern South Africa and the stability of the lower atmosphere over the region.

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Minmin Fu and Eli Tziperman

Abstract

Westerly wind bursts (WWBs) are anomalous surface wind gusts that play an important role in ENSO dynamics. Previous studies have identified several mechanisms that may be involved in the dynamics of WWBs. In particular, many have examined the importance of atmospheric deep convection to WWBs, including convection due to tropical cyclones, equatorial waves, and the Madden–Julian oscillation. Still, the WWB mechanism is not yet fully understood. In this study, we investigate the location of atmospheric convection which leads to WWBs and the role of positive feedbacks involving surface evaporation. We find that disabling surface flux feedbacks a few days before a WWB peaks does not weaken the event, arguing against local surface flux feedbacks serving as a WWB growth mechanism on individual events. On the other hand, directly suppressing convection by inhibiting latent heat release or eliminating surface evaporation rapidly weakens a WWB. By selectively suppressing convection near or farther away from the equator, we find that convection related to off-equatorial cyclonic vortices is most important to equatorial WWB winds, while on-equator convection is unimportant. Despite the strong resemblance of WWB wind patterns to the Gill response to equatorial heating, our findings indicate that equatorial convection is not necessary for WWBs to develop. Our conclusions are consistent with the idea that tropical cyclones, generally occurring more than 5° away from the equator, may be responsible for the majority of WWBs.

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Haochang Luo, Ángel F. Adames, and Richard B. Rood

Abstract

The processes that lead to the spatial and temporal evolution of the Bermuda high (BH) during July and August (JA) are investigated on the basis of linear regression analysis. The analysis is based on a Bermuda high index (BHI): the difference in standardized, deseasonalized, and detrended sea level pressure (SLP) between northeast of Bermuda (40°N, 60°W) and New Orleans (30°N, 90°W). Negative values of BHI indicate a westward expansion of the Bermuda high relative to its climatological-mean location and reduced precipitation in the southeastern United States (SEUS), whereas positive values correspond to BH contraction and enhanced precipitation in the SEUS. Linear regression of the 200-hPa geopotential height based on the BHI reveals the existence of a Rossby wave train that extends zonally from the eastern North Pacific to the eastern North Atlantic. The troughs and ridges associated with this wave train are spatially collocated with the climatological-mean jet stream, indicating that the jet serves as their waveguide. Anomalous troughing in the SEUS associated with this wave train is linked to the contraction of the Bermuda high during JA. The enhanced precipitation is associated with anomalous ascent to the east and south of this trough where anomalous warm advection is observed. Based on these results, it is hypothesized that this Rossby wave train may partially explain the occurrence of suppressed precipitation tied to midsummer drought in the SEUS during July and August. It is found that the BHI has trended from negative to positive in recent decades, suggesting that it may be influenced by low-frequency variability.

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Yuechun Wang and Steven M. Quiring

Abstract

The evidence shows that soil moisture has an important influence on North American monsoon (NAM) precipitation. This study evaluates the local and nonlocal feedbacks of soil moisture on summer (June–September) precipitation in the NAM region using observational data. We applied a multivariate statistical method known as the Stepwise Generalized Equilibrium Feedback Assessment (SGEFA) to control for internal atmospheric variability and sea surface temperature (SST) forcings so that we could isolate the impact of soil moisture feedbacks on NAM precipitation. Our results identify feedback pathways between soil moisture and precipitation in the NAM region and in the southern Rocky Mountains (SRM) region. Wet soils in the SRM result in lower-than-normal local surface temperature, weaker water vapor transport from the eastern Pacific and the Gulf of California (GOC), and less monsoon precipitation. Precipitation over the U.S. Great Plains also significantly increases when there are wet soils in the SRM. This occurs due to an enhanced water vapor influx into this region. On the other hand, anomalously wet soils in the NAM region increase NAM precipitation by enhancing local moist static energy and increasing the strength of the monsoonal circulation. Our observational results using SGEFA agree well with previous numerical modeling studies. This study highlights the critical role of land–atmosphere interactions for understanding NAM variability.

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Yaru Guo, Yuanlong Li, Fan Wang, and Yuntao Wei

Abstract

Ningaloo Niño—the interannually occurring warming episode in the southeast Indian Ocean (SEIO)—has strong signatures in ocean temperature and circulation and exerts profound impacts on regional climate and marine biosystems. Analysis of observational data and eddy-resolving regional ocean model simulations reveals that the Ningaloo Niño/Niña can also induce pronounced variability in ocean salinity, causing large-scale sea surface salinity (SSS) freshening of 0.15–0.20 psu in the SEIO during its warm phase. Model experiments are performed to understand the underlying processes. This SSS freshening is mutually caused by the increased local precipitation (~68%) and enhanced freshwater transport of the Indonesian Throughflow (ITF; ~28%) during Ningaloo Niño events. The effects of other processes, such as local winds and evaporation, are secondary (~18%). The ITF enhances the southward freshwater advection near the eastern boundary, which is critical in causing the strong freshening (>0.20 psu) near the Western Australian coast. Owing to the strong modulation effect of the ITF, SSS near the coast bears a higher correlation with El Niño–Southern Oscillation (0.57, 0.77, and 0.70 with the Niño-3, Niño-4, and Niño-3.4 indices, respectively) than sea surface temperature (−0.27, −0.42, and −0.35) during 1993–2016. Yet, an idealized model experiment with artificial damping for salinity anomaly indicates that ocean salinity has limited impact on ocean near-surface stratification and thus minimal feedback effect on the warming of Ningaloo Niño.

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Ping Chen, Bo Sun, Huijun Wang, and Baoyan Zhu

Abstract

This study investigates the relationship and underlying mechanisms between the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) and Arctic sea ice. The results reveal that the preceding December sea ice over the Laptev Sea plays an important role in the formation of positive IOD conditions during April–June (AMJ). In years with positive December Laptev sea ice anomalies, the zonal wavenumber-1 (ZWN1) planetary wave component is stimulated at middle and high latitudes. The high-latitude ZWN1 propagates upward to the stratosphere and downward to the troposphere in December, affects the atmospheric circulation over the North Atlantic, and further leads to a warm sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) that persists until the following February. The midlatitude ZWN1 propagates upward to the stratosphere in January and downward to the troposphere in February, contributing to the positive 200-hPa geopotential height anomaly (GPHA) in the subtropical Atlantic. The ascending anomaly induced by the warm SSTA and the positive 200-hPa GPHA in the subtropical Atlantic in February are favorable for effective Rossby wave source formation and stimulate an atmospheric wave train that forms an anomalous cyclone over the northern Arabian Sea, which contributes to enhanced convection over northern India, stimulating an anomalous anticyclone over East India and leading to reduced convection over the northeastern Indian Ocean in March. The reduced convection over the northeastern Indian Ocean may lead to strengthened equatorial easterly winds and further contribute to positive IOD conditions in AMJ. These findings indicate that December Laptev sea ice may contribute to AMJ IOD conditions.

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Marysa M. Laguë, Abigail L. S. Swann, and William R. Boos

Abstract

Changes in land surface albedo and land surface evaporation modulate the atmospheric energy budget by changing temperatures, water vapor, clouds, snow and ice cover, and the partitioning of surface energy fluxes. Here idealized perturbations to land surface properties are imposed in a global model to understand how such forcings drive shifts in zonal mean atmospheric energy transport and zonal mean tropical precipitation. For a uniform decrease in global land albedo, the albedo forcing and a positive water vapor feedback contribute roughly equally to increased energy absorption at the top of the atmosphere (TOA), while radiative changes due to the temperature and cloud cover response provide a negative feedback and energy loss at TOA. Decreasing land albedo causes a northward shift in the zonal mean intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ). The combined effects on ITCZ location of all atmospheric feedbacks roughly cancel for the albedo forcing; the total ITCZ shift is comparable to that predicted for the albedo forcing alone. For an imposed increase in evaporative resistance that reduces land evaporation, low cloud cover decreases in the northern midlatitudes and more energy is absorbed at TOA there; longwave loss due to warming provides a negative feedback on the TOA energy balance and ITCZ shift. Imposed changes in land albedo and evaporative resistance modulate fundamentally different aspects of the surface energy budget. However, the patterns of TOA radiation changes due to the water vapor and air temperature responses are highly correlated for these two forcings because both forcings lead to near-surface warming.

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