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Qiyun Ma
,
Yumeng Chen
, and
Monica Ionita

Abstract

Heat stress is projected to intensify with global warming, causing significant socioeconomic impacts and threatening human health. Wet-bulb temperature (WBT), which combines temperature and humidity effects, is a useful indicator for assessing regional and global heat stress variability and trends. However, the variations of European WBT and their underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Using observations and reanalysis datasets, we demonstrate a remarkable warming of summer WBT during the period 1958–2021 over Europe. Specifically, the European summer WBT has increased by over 1.0°C in the past 64 years. We find that the increase in European summer WBT is driven by both near-surface warming temperatures and increasing atmospheric moisture content. We identify four dominant modes of European summer WBT variability and investigate their linkage with the large-scale atmospheric circulation and sea surface temperature anomalies. The first two leading modes of the European WBT variability exhibit prominent interdecadal to long-term variations, mainly driven by a circumglobal wave train and concurrent sea surface temperature variations. The last two leading modes of European WBT variability mainly show interannual variations, indicating a direct and rapid response to large-scale atmospheric dynamics and nearby sea surface temperature variations. Further analysis shows the role of global warming and changes in midlatitude circulations in the variations of summer WBT. Our findings can enhance the understanding of plausible drivers of heat stress in Europe and provide valuable insights for regional decision-makers and climate adaptation planning.

Significance Statement

Wet-bulb temperature, which takes into account the combined effect of temperature and humidity, is a good indicator for assessing heat stress. In the context of global warming, heat stress is anticipated to escalate, posing significant risks to human health and causing socioeconomic losses. However, variations in wet-bulb temperature and the associated physical mechanisms have received limited attention. This study aims to improve our understanding of the temporal and spatial variations and the potential driving mechanisms of summer wet-bulb temperature across Europe in recent decades. We have observed a noteworthy increase in summer wet-bulb temperature, indicating a regional intensification of heat stress, particularly within the last 10 years. We further investigate the connections between variations in summer wet-bulb temperature, large-scale atmospheric circulation, and sea surface temperature. Additionally, we explore their associations with global warming and changes in midlatitude atmospheric circulation. The outcomes of this study not only contribute to establishing a scientific basis for evaluating heat-related risks in Europe but also facilitate preparedness for future climate adaptation and mitigation at both regional and local scales.

Open access
Yuhang Xiang
,
Juan Li
,
Bin Wang
,
Libin Ma
, and
Zhiwei Zhu

Abstract

Eastward propagation is an essential feature of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). Yet, it remains a challenge to realistically simulate it by global climate system models, and the reasons are not fully understood. This study evaluates the capability of 20 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 6 (CMIP6) models in simulating MJO’s eastward propagation and its intrinsic links with the dynamic–thermodynamic structures and the background mean states, aiming at better understanding the sources of the simulation errors. The metrics to evaluate the MJO internal dynamics consists of six parameters: 1) the east–west asymmetry in the low-level circulation, 2) the boundary layer moisture convergence propagation, 3) the vertical tilt of equivalent potential temperature or moist static energy, the vertical structures of 4) diabatic heating and 5) available potential energy generation, and 6) upper-level diabatic heating and divergence. We also gauge the performance of three MJO-related background mean-state fields, including precipitation, sea surface temperature, and low-level moist static energy. It is argued that these parameters are relevant internal and external factors that could affect MJO eastward propagation. We find that the boundary layer moisture convergence is most tightly coupled with the eastward propagation of MJO and controls the premoistening, destabilization, and the leading low-level diabatic heating and available potential energy generation. The CMIP6 models exhibit significant improvements against CMIP5 models in simulating MJO dynamic–thermodynamic structures and the mean states. The diagnostics in this study could help to identify the possible processes related to CMIP6 models’ shortcomings and shed light on how to improve simulation of MJO eastward propagation in the future.

Restricted access
Todd Emmenegger
,
Fiaz Ahmed
,
Yi-Hung Kuo
,
Shaocheng Xie
,
Chengzhu Zhang
,
Cheng Tao
, and
J. David Neelin

Abstract

Conditional instability and the buoyancy of plumes drive moist convection but have a variety of representations in model convective schemes. Vertical thermodynamic structure information from Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) sites and reanalysis (ERA5), satellite-derived precipitation (TRMM3b42), and diagnostics relevant for plume buoyancy are used to assess climate models. Previous work has shown that CMIP6 models represent moist convective processes more accurately than their CMIP5 counterparts. However, certain biases in convective onset remain pervasive among generations of CMIP modeling efforts. We diagnose these biases in a cohort of nine CMIP6 models with subdaily output, assessing conditional instability in profiles of equivalent potential temperature, θe , and saturation equivalent potential temperature, θes , in comparison to a plume model with different mixing assumptions. Most models capture qualitative aspects of the θes vertical structure, including a substantial decrease with height in the lower free troposphere associated with the entrainment of subsaturated air. We define a “pseudo-entrainment” diagnostic that combines subsaturation and a θes measure of conditional instability similar to what entrainment would produce under the small-buoyancy approximation. This captures the trade-off between larger θes lapse rates (entrainment of dry air) and small subsaturation (permits positive buoyancy despite high entrainment). This pseudo-entrainment diagnostic is also a reasonable indicator of the critical value of integrated buoyancy for precipitation onset. Models with poor θe /θes structure (those using variants of the Tiedtke scheme) or low entrainment runs of CAM5, and models with low subsaturation, such as NASA-GISS, lie outside the observational range in this diagnostic.

Open access
Bei Xu
and
Gen Li

Abstract

The hydrological effect of snow over Eurasia is important for regulating regional and global climate through affecting land–atmosphere energy exchange. Based on observational and reanalysis datasets, this study investigates the effect of spring Eurasian snowmelt on the following summer rainfall over eastern China during the period of 1979–2018. The results show that a substantial meridional dipole pattern of summer rainfall anomalies over eastern China is closely associated with the preceding spring snowmelt anomalies over Eurasia, especially over remote Siberia. Excessive snowmelt anomalies over Siberia in spring could result in a wetter local soil condition from spring until the following summer, thereby increasing latent heat fluxes and reducing local surface temperature, and vice versa. Then, the anomalous summer surface cooling over Siberia increases the meridional gradient of temperature between the Eurasian midlatitudes and high latitudes, which intensifies the Eurasian atmospheric baroclinicity and motivates the eddy‐induced geopotential height responses along with the significant wave propagations spreading from the Eurasian high latitudes to Lake Baikal. As a result, excessive spring snowmelt anomalies over Siberia tend to be accompanied with an anomalous anticyclone circulation to the east of Lake Baikal and an anomalous cyclonic circulation over southeastern China in the following summer. This could lead to a meridional dipole pattern of summer rainfall anomalies over eastern China, with deficient rainfall over northern China and slightly excessive rainfall over southern China. The present findings highlight the lagged effect of spring Eurasian snowmelt on summer climate over eastern China, with implications for the regional seasonal climate prediction.

Significance Statement

Frequent summer droughts and floods over eastern China cause serious damage to the regional economy and society. This study reveals an important effect of spring Eurasian snowmelt anomalies on the following summer rainfall anomalies over eastern China. Through affecting the local land–atmosphere energy exchange and regulating the remote atmospheric circulation, excessive spring Eurasian snowmelt anomalies could induce a substantial meridional dipole pattern of summer rainfall anomalies over eastern China, with deficient rainfall over northern China and excessive rainfall over southern China, and vice versa. Therefore, this work identifies spring Eurasian snowmelt as a potential seasonal predictor for summer rainfall over eastern China, which is home to more than a billion people. This is important for the local livelihood, including agriculture, water resources, ecosystems, human health, and economies.

Restricted access
Xiuzhen Li
,
Donghai Wang
, and
Wen Zhou

Abstract

South China encountered an exceptionally heavy pre-summer rainy season in 2022 with the regional precipitation ranking first in the past 44 years. This study aims to analyze the multiple-time-scale variations of precipitation in this pre-summer rainy season to shed light on the complex dynamics influencing pre-summer precipitation over South China. The findings reveal that the variation of precipitation was dominated by the 10–20-day oscillation during April–May, while interannual variation and trend during May–June. The 10–20-day oscillation of precipitation in pre-summer rainy season in South China demonstrates a strong association with cold-air activity, which can be traced back to the propagation of disturbances along a teleconnection, which represents the dominant mode of intraseasonal atmospheric circulation over Eurasia in high latitudes during April–May. This teleconnection plays a crucial role in facilitating cold-air invasion and triggering precipitation over East China and South China. The interannual component of abnormal precipitation is strong during May–June of 2022. It is primarily attributed to the abnormal highs in the lower troposphere over the subtropical western North Pacific and Japan. These abnormal highs are likely stimulated by the combined influences of Eurasian teleconnection propagation and cooling sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTAs) over the tropical central and eastern Pacific in the third year of a consecutive La Niña event. However, the universality of the impact of Eurasian teleconnection propagation on the abnormal high over Japan on interannual scale necessitates further investigation. Furthermore, there is a significant upward trend in pre-summer rainfall over South China, accounting for 38% of the total anomaly observed in 2022.

Restricted access
Víctor C. Mayta
and
Ángel F. Adames Corraliza

Abstract

Observations of column water vapor in the tropics show significant variations in space and time, indicating that it is strongly influenced by the passage of weather systems. It is hypothesized that many of the influencing systems are moisture modes, systems whose thermodynamics are governed by moisture. On the basis of four objective criteria, results suggest that all oceanic convectively coupled tropical depression (TD)-like waves and equatorial Rossby waves are moisture modes. These modes occur where the horizontal column moisture gradient is steep and not where the column water vapor content is high. Despite geographical basic-state differences, the moisture modes are driven by the same mechanisms across all basins. The moist static energy (MSE) anomalies propagate westward by horizontal moisture advection by the trade winds. Their growth is determined by the advection of background moisture by the anomalous meridional winds and anomalous radiative heating. Horizontal maps of column moisture and 850-hPa streamfunction show that convection is partially collocated with the low-level circulation in nearly all the waves. Both this structure and the process of growth indicate that the moisture modes grow from moisture–vortex instability. Last, space–time spectral analysis reveals that column moisture and low-level meridional winds are coherent and exhibit a phasing that is consistent with a poleward latent energy transport. Collectively, these results indicate that moisture modes are ubiquitous across the tropics. That they occur in regions of steep horizontal moisture gradients and grow from moisture–vortex instability suggests that these gradients are inherently unstable and are subject to continuous stirring.

Significance Statement

Over the tropics, column water vapor has been found to be highly correlated with precipitation, especially in slowly evolving systems. These observations and theory support the hypothesis that moisture modes exist, a type of precipitating weather system that does not exist in dry theory. In this study, we found that all oceanic tropical depression (TD)-like waves and equatorial Rossby waves are moisture modes. These systems exist in regions where moisture varies greatly in space, and they grow by transporting air from the humid areas of the tropics toward their low pressure center. These results indicate that the climatological-mean distribution of moisture in the tropics is unstable and is subject to stirring by moisture modes.

Open access
Feihong Zhou
,
Daniel Fiifi Tawia Hagan
,
Guojie Wang
,
X. San Liang
,
Shijie Li
,
Yuhao Shao
,
Emmanuel Yeboah
, and
Xikun Wei

Abstract

The land surface and atmosphere interaction forms an integral part of the climate system. However, this intricate relationship involves many complicated interactions and feedback effects between multiple variables. As a result, relying solely on traditional linear regression analysis and correlation analysis to distinguish between multivariate complex “driver–response” relations can be challenging, since they do not have the needed asymmetry to establish causality. The Liang–Kleeman (LK) information flow theory provides a strict nonparametric causality measurement for identifying the causality between any given time series, and its recent extension from bivariate to multivariate form provides a powerful tool for causal inference in complex multivariate systems. However, the multivariate LK information flow also assumes stationarity in time and requires a sufficiently long time series to ensure statistical sufficiency. To remedy this challenge, we rely on the square-root Kalman filter to estimate the time-varying form of the multivariate LK information flow causality. The results from theoretical and real-world applications show that the new algorithm provides a valuable tool for characterizing time-varying causal relationships in land–atmosphere interactions, even when the time series are short and highly correlated.

Significance Statement

Causality in land–atmosphere interactions is generally characterized by seasonal and intraseasonal changes that are usually not captured with commonly used approaches, because most approaches assume the time series are stationary. In this study, we extend the recently proposed multivariate Liang–Kleeman information flow causality (MtvLK) to handle nonstationary systems such as those in land–atmosphere interactions. By considering nonstationarity, we aim to unravel time-varying causal structures that are usually masked out in commonly used methods. Validating the MtvLK with synthetic models showed that the MtvLK is able to obtain the expected causal structures. Furthermore, real-world applications reveal novel findings of the time-varying causal structures between soil moisture, vapor pressure deficit, and the gross primary product.

Restricted access
Clara Deser
,
Adam S. Phillips
,
Michael. A. Alexander
,
Dillon J. Amaya
,
Antonietta Capotondi
,
Michael G. Jacox
, and
James D. Scott

Abstract

The future evolution of sea surface temperature (SST) extremes is of great concern, not only for the health of marine ecosystems and sustainability of commercial fisheries, but also for precipitation extremes fueled by moisture evaporated from the ocean. This study examines the projected influence of anthropogenic climate change on the intensity and duration of monthly SST extremes, hereafter termed marine heat waves (MHWs) and marine cold waves (MCWs), based on initial-condition large ensembles with seven Earth system models. The large number of simulations (30–100) with each model allows for robust quantification of future changes in both the mean state and variability in each model. In general, models indicate that future changes in variability will cause MHW and MCW events to intensify in the northern extratropics and weaken in the tropics and Southern Ocean, and to shorten in duration in many areas. These changes are generally symmetric between MHWs and MCWs, except for the longitude of duration change in the tropical Pacific and sign of duration change in the Arctic. Projected changes in ENSO account for a large fraction of the variability-induced changes in MHW and MCW characteristics in each model and are responsible for much of the intermodel spread as a result of differences in future ENSO behavior. The variability-related changes in MHW and MCW characteristics noted above are superimposed upon large mean-state changes. Indeed, their contribution to the total change in SST during MHW and MCW events is generally <10% except in polar regions where they contribute upward of 50%.

Open access
Qianru Wang
and
Shuhua Zhang

Abstract

Solar radiation balances significantly affect Earth’s surface energy balance and climate change. Studying top-of-the-atmosphere (TOA) albedo changes is of great significance for understanding Earth’s energy budget and atmospheric circulation. The Loess Plateau (LP), located in the middle reaches of the Yellow River in China, is one of the most severely eroded areas in the world. In this paper, long-term remote sensing data were used to analyze the changes in the TOA albedo in the LP from 1982 to 2016. The results showed that the TOA albedo, its atmospheric contribution (AC), and surface contribution (SC) exhibited decreasing trends: −0.0012, −0.0010, and −0.0003 a−1. The spatial pattern of the TOA albedo was similar to AC, which indicates that AC dominates the change in the TOA albedo. We detected driving factors for AC and SC and found that the cloud fraction (CF) was the main driving factor of the AC, whereas the soil moisture (SM) dominated the SC. The driving factors of two typical regions with a significantly decreasing trend in the TOA albedo were also detected. The Mu Us Desert, where vegetation improved significantly, showed a decreasing trend in the TOA albedo, and we found that NDVI was the main driving factor for the change in the SC of the TOA albedo. However, the Eastern Qilian Mountains, where snow cover decreased in recent years, also showed a significant decreasing trend in the TOA albedo; the SC here was mainly driven by the changes in snow cover days (SCD). These results indicate that changes in the surface environment alter the radiation balance.

Significance Statement

The Loess Plateau in China is one of the most severe cases of soil erosion in the world, and ecological restoration projects have been carried out to recover the fragile ecological environment. Our study was designed to explore changes in the top-of-the-atmosphere (TOA) albedo of the Loess Plateau between 1982 and 2016 using a long time series of multisource satellite products, and driving factors in the atmosphere and at the surface were analyzed. We concluded that the TOA albedo of the Loess Plateau decreased over 35 years, and its atmospheric contribution dominated the change in the TOA albedo. However, the significant ecological improvement in the Loess Plateau, especially in the central vegetation recovery region, such as the Mu Us Desert, was also strongly related to the regional changes in the surface contribution of the TOA albedo. The climate changes had a considerable impact on the eastern branch of the Qilian Mountains in the Qinghai region, where the decline in snow cover days affected the local Alpine meadow ecosystems; therefore, snow cover days also played a decisive role in the local variation of the surface contribution of the TOA albedo.

Restricted access
Weizhen Chen
,
Chang-Hoi Ho
,
Song Yang
,
Zeming Wu
, and
Hongjing Chen

Abstract

The Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) and the quasi-biweekly oscillation (QBWO) are prominent components of the intraseasonal oscillations over the tropical Indo-Pacific Ocean. This study examines the tropical cyclone (TC) genesis over the Bay of Bengal (BOB) and the South China Sea (SCS) on an intraseasonal scale in May–June during 1979–2021. Results show that the convection associated with the two types of intraseasonal oscillations simultaneously modulates TC genesis in both ocean basins. As the MJO/QBWO convection propagated, TCs form alternately over the two basins, with a significant increase (decrease) in TC genesis frequency in the convective (nonconvective) MJO/QBWO phase. Based on the anomalous genesis potential index associated with the MJO/QBWO, an assessment of the influence of various factors on TC genesis is further assessed. Middle-level relative humidity and lower-level relative vorticity play key roles in the MJO/QBWO modulation on TC genesis. The MJO primarily enhances large-scale cross-equatorial moisture transport, resulting in significant moisture convergence, while the QBWO generally strengthens the monsoon trough and induces the retreat of the western North Pacific subtropical high, increasing the regional lower-level relative vorticity. The potential intensity and vertical wind shear make small or negative contributions. This study provides insights into the neighboring basin TC relationship at intraseasonal scales, which has a potential to improve the short-term prediction of regional TC activity.

Significance Statement

The Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) and the quasi-biweekly oscillation (QBWO) are two types of intraseasonal tropical atmospheric oscillations. The development of tropical cyclones (TCs) is often accompanied by intraseasonal convection. This study highlights the distinct roles of MJO and QBWO in TC genesis over the South Asian marginal seas (e.g., Bay of Bengal and South China Sea). The QBWO can co-regulate TC genesis along with the background of the MJO, where the large-scale MJO mainly provides moisture, while the small-scale QBWO mainly contributes to vorticity. These findings provide useful information for subseasonal TCs forecasting. There are many developing countries along the South Asian marginal seacoast; therefore, further research on regional TC climate would help effectively reduce casualties and property damage.

Open access