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Shuo Li
and
Wei Mei

Abstract

The small sample size of tropical cyclone (TC) genesis in the observations prevents us from fully characterizing its spatiotemporal variations. Here we take advantage of a large ensemble of 60-km-resolution atmospheric simulations to address this issue over the northwest Pacific (NWP) during 1951–2010. The variations in annual TC genesis density are explored separately on interannual and decadal time scales. The interannual variability is dominated by two leading modes. One is characterized by a dipole pattern, and its temporal evolution is closely linked to the developing ENSO. The other mode features high loadings in the central part of the basin, with out-of-phase changes near the equator and date line, and tends to occur during ENSO decay years. On decadal time scales, TC genesis density variability is primarily controlled by one mode, which exhibits an east–west dipole pattern with strong signals confined to south of 20°N and is tied to the interdecadal Pacific oscillation–like sea surface temperature anomalies. Further, we investigate the seasonal evolution of the ENSO effect on TC genesis density. The results highlight the distinct impacts of the two types of ENSO (i.e., eastern Pacific vs central Pacific) on TC genesis density in the NWP during a specific season and show the strong seasonal dependency of the TC genesis response to ENSO. Although the results from the observations are not as prominent as those from the simulations because of the small sample size, the high consistency between them demonstrates the fidelity of the model in reproducing TC statistics and variability in the observations.

Restricted access
Rachael N. Isphording
,
Lisa V. Alexander
,
Margot Bador
,
Donna Green
,
Jason P. Evans
, and
Scott Wales

Abstract

Presently, there is no standardized framework or metrics identified to assess regional climate model precipitation output. Because of this, it can be difficult to make a one-to-one comparison of their performance between regions or studies, or against coarser-resolution global climate models. To address this, we introduce the first steps toward establishing a dynamic, yet standardized, benchmarking framework that can be used to assess model skill in simulating various characteristics of rainfall. Benchmarking differs from typical model evaluation in that it requires that performance expectations are set a priori. This framework has innumerable applications to underpin scientific studies that assess model performance, inform model development priorities, and aid stakeholder decision-making by providing a structured methodology to identify fit-for-purpose model simulations for climate risk assessments and adaptation strategies. While this framework can be applied to regional climate model simulations at any spatial domain, we demonstrate its effectiveness over Australia using high-resolution, 0.5° × 0.5° simulations from the CORDEX-Australasia ensemble. We provide recommendations for selecting metrics and pragmatic benchmarking thresholds depending on the application of the framework. This includes a top tier of minimum standard metrics to establish a minimum benchmarking standard for ongoing climate model assessment. We present multiple applications of the framework using feedback received from potential user communities and encourage the scientific and user community to build on this framework by tailoring benchmarks and incorporating additional metrics specific to their application.

Significance Statement

We introduce a standardized benchmarking framework for assessing the skill of regional climate models in simulating precipitation. This framework addresses the lack of a uniform approach in the scientific community and has diverse applications in scientific research, model development, and societal decision-making. We define a set of minimum standard metrics to underpin ongoing climate model assessments that quantify model skill in simulating fundamental characteristics of rainfall. We provide guidance for selecting metrics and defining benchmarking thresholds, demonstrated using multiple case studies over Australia. This framework has broad applications for numerous user communities and provides a structured methodology for the assessment of model performance.

Open access
Melissa Gervais
,
Lantao Sun
, and
Clara Deser

Abstract

Future Arctic sea ice loss has a known impact on Arctic amplification (AA) and mean atmospheric circulation. Furthermore, several studies have shown it leads to a decreased variance in temperature over North America. In this study, we analyze results from two fully coupled Community Earth System Model (CESM) Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM4) simulations with sea ice nudged to either the ensemble mean of WACCM historical runs averaged over the 1980–99 period for the control (CTL) or projected RCP8.5 values over the 2080–99 period for the experiment (EXP). Dominant large-scale meteorological patterns (LSMPs) are then identified using self-organizing maps applied to winter daily 500-hPa geopotential height anomalies ( Z 500 ) over North America. We investigate how sea ice loss (EXP − CTL) impacts the frequency of these LSMPs and, through composite analysis, the sensible weather associated with them. We find differences in LSMP frequency but no change in residency time, indicating there is no stagnation of the flow with sea ice loss. Sea ice loss also acts to de-amplify and/or shift the Z 500 that characterize these LSMPs and their associated anomalies in potential temperature at 850 hPa. Impacts on precipitation anomalies are more localized and consistent with changes in anomalous sea level pressure. With this LSMP framework we provide new mechanistic insights, demonstrating a role for thermodynamic, dynamic, and diabatic processes in sea ice impacts on atmospheric variability. Understanding these processes from a synoptic perspective is critical as some LSMPs play an outsized role in producing the mean response to Arctic sea ice loss.

Significance Statement

The goal of this study is to understand how future Arctic sea ice loss might impact daily weather patterns over North America. We use a global climate model to produce one set of simulations where sea ice is similar to present conditions and another that represents conditions at the end of the twenty-first century. Daily patterns in large-scale circulation at roughly 5.5 km in altitude are then identified using a machine learning method. We find that sea ice loss tends to de-amplify these patterns and their associated impacts on temperature nearer the surface. Our methodology allows us to probe more deeply into the mechanisms responsible for these changes, which provides a new way to understand how sea ice loss can impact the daily weather we experience.

Open access
Richard E. Chandler
,
Clair R. Barnes
, and
Chris M. Brierley

Abstract

This paper presents a methodology that is designed for rapid exploratory analysis of the outputs from ensembles of climate models, especially when these outputs consist of maps. The approach formalizes and extends the technique of “intermodel empirical orthogonal function” analysis, combining multivariate analysis of variance techniques with singular value decompositions (SVDs) of structured components of the ensemble data matrix. The SVDs yield spatial patterns associated with these components, which we call ensemble principal patterns (EPPs). A unique hierarchical partitioning of variation is obtained for balanced ensembles in which all combinations of factors, such as GCM and RCM pairs in a regional ensemble, appear with equal frequency: suggestions are also proposed to handle unbalanced ensembles without imputing missing values or discarding runs. Applications include the selection of ensemble members to propagate uncertainty into subsequent analyses, and the diagnosis of modes of variation associated with specific model variants or parameter perturbations. The approach is illustrated using outputs from the EuroCORDEX regional ensemble over the United Kingdom.

Open access
Marcellin Guilbert
,
Pascal Terray
,
Juliette Mignot
,
Luther Ollier
, and
Guillaume Gastineau

Abstract

The Sahel is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change. Robust estimation of future changes in the Sahel monsoon is therefore essential for effective climate change adaptation. Unfortunately, state-of-the-art climate models show large uncertainties in their projections of Sahel rainfall. In this study, we use 32 models from CMIP6 to identify the sources of this large intermodel spread of Sahel rainfall. By using maximum covariance analysis, we first highlight two new key drivers of this spread during boreal summer: the interhemispheric temperature gradient and equatorial Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) changes. This contrasts with previous studies, which have focused mainly on the Northern Hemisphere rather than the global scale, and in which the Pacific Ocean has been neglected in favor of the Atlantic. Next, we unravel the physical mechanisms behind these statistical relationships. First, the modulation of the interhemispheric temperature gradient across the models leads to varying latitudinal positions of the intertropical convergence zone and, consequently, varying Sahel rainfall intensity. Second, models that exhibit less warming than the multimodel mean in the equatorial Pacific, thereby projecting a less “El Niño–like” mean state, simulate enhanced precipitation over the central Sahel in the future through modulations of the Walker circulation, the tropical easterly jet, the meridional tropospheric temperature gradient, and hence regional zonal wind shear. Finally, we show that these two indices collectively explain 62% of Sahel rainfall change uncertainty: 40% due to the interhemispheric temperature gradient and 22% through equatorial Pacific SST.

Restricted access
Lan Yu
,
Ming Zhang
,
Lunche Wang
,
Huaping Li
, and
Junli Li

Abstract

Clouds and aerosols provide the greatest uncertainty in estimating and interpreting Earth’s energy budget. This study not only focuses on surface brightening/dimming, but also explores Earth’s energy balance. The validation results of the CERES-SYN, ISCCP-FH, and GEWEX-SRB datasets with Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN), Surface Radiation Budget Network (SURFRAD), and CMA observations show that CERES data have the highest accuracy and the longest temporal coverage. The role of clouds and aerosols in Earth’s energy budget was explained using CERES and MERRA-2 products. The results show that Earth’s energy increases at a rate of 0.63 W m−2 decade−1 in 2000–21. The global surface brightens at a rate of 0.57 W m−2 decade−1, with surface energy decreasing at a rate of 0.19 W m−2 decade−1. Brightening was found over Australia, central Asia, and southern Africa, mainly associated with cloud reduction, with aerosol emissions reductions contributing to the East Asian surface brightening. The surface brightening in South America and Southeast Asia is also due to the reduction of clouds. The increase of aerosols in South Asia is the main factor for its surface dimming, while we infer that the climatic effect from the increase of black carbon (BC) aerosols in South Asia is the inducing factor for the dimming in southern China. The surface darkening in West Asia is the result of the combined effect of clouds and aerosols, while in northern Africa it may be related to the increase of clouds caused by the decrease of dust aerosols. Surface energy increases only in Southeast Asia, South America, and Europe.

Significance Statement

Clouds and aerosols provide the greatest uncertainty in estimating and interpreting Earth’s changing energy budget. Moreover, the relative importance of clouds and aerosols is variable, depending on the regions and time scales of studies. This study shows that the energy inflow to the Earth system is greater than the energy outflow in 2000–21, with radiation on Earth increasing at a rate of 0.63 W m−2 decade−1 with the surface energy decreases at a rate of 0.19 W m−2 decade−1. Brightening was found over Southeast Asia, South America, Australia, and southern Africa, with the areas of surface darkening occurring mainly in Asia and northern Africa.

Restricted access
Georges-Noel T. Longandjo
and
Mathieu Rouault

Abstract

The intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), with its twice-annual passage over central Africa, is considered as the main driver of the rainfall seasonality. In this ITCZ paradigm, high rainfall occurs over regions of large low-level convergence. But recently, this paradigm was challenged over central Africa. Here, we show that a shallow meridional overturning circulation—driven by surface conditions—plays a thermodynamical control on the rainfall seasonality over central Africa. Indeed, due to the local evaporative cooling effect, the foot of the ascending branch of Hadley cells occurs where the temperature is the warmest, indicating a thermal low. This distorts the southern Hadley cell by developing its bottom-heavy structure. As result, both shallow and deep Hadley cells coexist over central Africa year-round. The deep mode is associated with the poleward transport of atmospheric energy at upper levels. The shallow mode is characterized by a shallow meridional circulation, with its moisture transport vanishing and converging in the midtroposphere rather than at lower troposphere. This midtropospheric moisture convergence is also the dominant component that shapes the vertically integrated moisture flux convergence, with little contribution of African easterly jets. This convergence zone thus controls the precipitating convection. Its meridional migration highlights the interhemispheric rainfall contrast over central Africa and outlines the unimodal seasonality. On the other hand, forced by the Congo basin cell, the precipitable water regulates the deep convection from the vegetated surface of Congo basin, acting as a continental sea. This nonlinear mechanism separates the rainfall into three distinct regimes: the moisture-convergence-controlled regime, with convective rainfall exclusively occurring in the rainy season; the local evaporation-controlled regime with drizzle in the dry season; and the precipitable-water-controlled regime, with exponential rainfall increase in the dry season.

Restricted access
Zhongren Deng
,
Shunwu Zhou
,
Ping Wu
, and
Yang Sun

Abstract

Using the observational and reanalysis datasets during the period of 1979–2018, this study examines the modulation effects of the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) and Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) on the interdecadal change in summer surface air temperature (SAT) over the eastern Tibetan Plateau (TP). The results show that the eastern TP has experienced a remarkable warming in boreal summer since 1997. In addition, the warming is associated with simultaneously enhanced westward water vapor transport and the northward shift of the subtropical westerly jet (SWJ) over the northeast of the TP. Further research indicates that both water vapor transport and the SWJ are modulated by the PDO and AMO on interdecadal time scales. Since the late 1990s, the PDO has changed from the positive to negative phase, while the AMO has changed from the negative to positive phase. The change in the out-of-phase combination of the PDO and AMO has resulted in a northward shift of the SWJ at 200 hPa near the northeast of the TP through the Rossby wave train originating from the northwestern Atlantic. In addition, the PDO and AMO could both affect the Rossby wave train. From the northwestern Atlantic to Eurasia, the wave train may be dominated by the PDO, while the wave train near the TP is dominated by the AMO. The anomalous anticyclone over the northeastern TP is part of the Rossby wave train, causing the northward shift of the SWJ, favoring the intrusion of the water vapor from the eastern China into the eastern TP, thus leading to the TP warming.

Significance Statement

It is understood that the Tibetan Plateau (TP) may be among the most sensitive regions to the global climate change. In addition, this region has warmed very rapidly in the latter half of the twentieth century. Based on the statistical analysis and dynamic diagnostics, the influences of interdecadal variations of atmospheric circulations on summer surface air temperature (SAT) over the eastern TP were analyzed for the years 1979 to 2018. We found that the eastern TP experienced an increase in summer SAT. In addition, the interdecadal change in SAT over the eastern TP is strongly affected by the water vapor transport and the subtropical westerly jet. Further analyses show that the PDO and AMO were the key factors influencing summer SAT over the eastern TP on the interdecadal time scales. The PDO and AMO could both affect the Rossby wave train. From the northwest Atlantic to Eurasia, the wave train may be dominated by the PDO, while the wave train near the TP is dominated by the AMO. In addition, the northwest Atlantic SSTs, which are dominated by the AMO, could also affect the SAT over the eastern TP by the Rossby wave train.

Restricted access
Zhengyi Ren
,
Ruiqiang Ding
,
Jiangyu Mao
,
Kai Ji
, and
Zongrong Li

Abstract

The Victoria mode (VM), similar to the Pacific meridional mode (PMM), is forced by North Pacific Oscillation atmospheric variability. Both the boreal spring VM and PMM can trigger the onset of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events in the following winter. Previous studies have examined the precursor relationship between the PMM and ENSO based on a subset of models drawn from the North American Multimodel Ensemble (NMME) system. They suggested that the PMM can act as a precursor to El Niño events, whereas it fails to predict La Niña events. Utilizing the hindcasts of these models from NMME, this study further investigates the role of the VM as an ENSO predictor to examine the real usefulness of the VM for ENSO prediction. When compared with the PMM, the VM can predict both El Niño and La Niña events with some skill, showing that the VM seems to be a more reliable predictor of ENSO. We found that the unique role of the VM in ENSO prediction originates from the symmetric impact of the VM on ENSO events. The VM, as a basin-scale sea surface temperature (SST) pattern, combines the role of the SST over the subtropical northeastern Pacific that is similar to the PMM in initializing El Niño events with that of the SST over the western North Pacific that is different from PMM in initializing La Niña events, resulting in the symmetric effect of the VM on ENSO prediction. Thus, it is useful to consider VM variability as a reference for ENSO prediction.

Significance Statement

We aim to investigate whether the robust relationship between the boreal spring Victoria mode (VM) and the following winter ENSO in observations and climate models has any real predictive use, thus bridging the gap between theory and practical application. Our analyses based mainly on model hindcast datasets examine the forecasting skill of the VM for El Niño and La Niña events. We also reveal the symmetric impact of VM on ENSO through the analysis of observations, which explains the VM’s skill in predicting both El Niño and La Niña events. This study deepens our understanding of the effect of North Pacific SST variability on ENSO.

Restricted access
Tianying Liu
,
Zhengyu Liu
,
Yuchu Zhao
, and
Shaoqing Zhang

Abstract

Previous studies have indicated that the extratropics can influence ENSO via specific processes. However, it is still unclear to what extent ENSO is influenced by the extratropics in observation. Now we assess this issue by applying the regional data assimilation (RDA) approach in an advanced model, the GFDL CM2.1. Our study confirms a strong extratropical impact on observed ENSO. Quantitatively, the extratropical atmospheric variability poleward of 20° explains 56% of the observed variance of ENSO and greatly influences ∼67% of observed El Niño events during 1969–2008. This extratropical impact is still significant even as far as poleward of 30°. Furthermore, the impact from the southern extratropics is slightly stronger than that from the northern extratropics, partly caused by the Pacific ITCZ location north of the equator and different mixed-layer depth along the northern Pacific meridional mode (NPMM) and the southern Pacific meridional mode (SPMM). Our study further shows that all of three super El Niño events, those in 1972/73, 1982/83, and 1997/98, are influenced greatly by both hemispheric extratropics, with NPMM and SPMM interfering constructively, while most weak and moderate El Niño events are triggered by only one hemispheric extratropics, with NPMM and SPMM interfering destructively. Besides the extratropical Pacific influence on ENSO via NPMM/SPMM, the extratropics also has a potential impact on ENSO by influencing other tropical oceans and then by interbasin interactions.

Open access