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Deepashree Dutta, Steven C. Sherwood, Katrin J. Meissner, Alex Sen Gupta, Daniel J. Lunt, Gregory J. L. Tourte, Robert Colman, Sugata Narsey, David Fuchs, and Josephine R. Brown

Abstract

When simulating past warm climates, such as the early Cretaceous and Paleogene periods, general circulation models (GCMs) underestimate the magnitude of warming in the Arctic. Additionally, model intercomparisons show a large spread in the magnitude of Arctic warming for these warmer-than-modern climates. Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain these disagreements, including the unrealistic representation of polar clouds or underestimated poleward heat transport in the models. This study provides an intercomparison of Arctic cloud and atmospheric heat transport (AHT) responses to strong imposed polar-amplified surface ocean warming across four atmosphere-only GCMs. All models simulate an increase in high clouds throughout the year; the resulting reduction in longwave radiation loss to space acts to support the imposed Arctic warming. The response of low- and midlevel clouds varies considerably across the models, with models responding differently to surface warming and sea ice removal. The AHT is consistently weaker in the imposed warming experiments due to a large reduction in dry static energy transport that offsets a smaller increase in latent heat transport, thereby opposing the imposed surface warming. Our idealized polar amplification experiments require very large increases in implied ocean heat transport (OHT) to maintain steady state. Increased CO2 or tropical temperatures that likely characterized past warm climates reduce the need for such large OHT increases.

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M. A. Altamirano del Carmen, F. Estrada, and C. Gay-García

Abstract

The reliability of general circulation models (GCMs) is commonly associated with their ability to reproduce relevant aspects of observed climate, and thus the evaluation of GCM performance has become a standard practice for climate change studies. As such, there is an ever-growing literature that focuses on developing and evaluating metrics to assess GCM performance. In this paper it is shown that some commonly applied metrics provide little information for discriminating GCMs based on their performance, once uncertainty is included. A new methodology is proposed that differs from common approaches in that it focuses on evaluating GCMs’ abilities to reproduce the observed response of surface temperature to changes in external radiative forcing (RF), while controlling for observed and simulated variability. It uses formal statistical tests to evaluate two aspects of the warming trend that are central for climate change studies: 1) if the response to RF produced by a particular GCM is compatible with observations and 2) if the magnitudes of the observed and simulated rates of warming are statistically similar. We illustrate the proposed methodology by evaluating the ability of 21 GCMs to reproduce the observed warming trend at the global scale and for eight subcontinental land domains. Results show that most of the GCMs provide an adequate representation of the observed warming trend for the global scale and for domains located in the Southern Hemisphere. However, GCMs tend to overestimate the warming rate for domains in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly since the mid-1990s.

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Ajitha Cyriac, Helen E. Phillips, Nathaniel L. Bindoff, Huabin Mao, and Ming Feng

Abstract

This study investigates the spatiotemporal variability of turbulent mixing in the eastern south Indian Ocean using a collection of data from electromagnetic autonomous profiling explorer (EM-APEX) profiling floats, shipboard CTD, and microstructure profilers. The floats collected 1566 profiles of temperature, salinity, and horizontal velocity data down to 1200 m over a period of about four months. A finescale parameterization is applied to the float and CTD data to estimate turbulent mixing. Elevated mixing is observed in the upper ocean, over bottom topography, and in mesoscale eddies. Mixing is enhanced in the anticyclonic eddies due to trapped near-inertial waves within the eddy. We found that cyclonic eddies contribute to turbulent mixing in the depth range of 500–1000 m, which is associated with downward-propagating internal waves. The mean diapycnal diffusivity over 250–500-m depth is O(10−6) m2 s−1, and it increases to O(10−5) m2 s−1 in 500–1000 m in cyclonic eddies. The turbulent mixing in this region has implications for water-mass transformation and large-scale circulation. Higher diffusivity [O(10−5) m2 s−1] is observed in the Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) layer in cyclonic eddies, whereas weak diffusivity is observed in the Subantarctic Mode Water (SAMW) layer [O(10−6) m2 s−1]. Counterintuitively, then, the SAMW water-mass properties are strongly affected in cyclonic eddies, whereas the AAIW layer is less affected. Comparatively high diffusivity at the location of the South Indian Countercurrent (SICC) jets suggests there are wave–mean flow interactions in addition to the wave–eddy interactions that warrant further investigation.

Open access
David R. Ryglicki, Christopher S. Velden, Paul D. Reasor, Daniel Hodyss, and James D. Doyle

Abstract

Multiple observation and analysis datasets are used to demonstrate two key features of the atypical rapid intensification (ARI) process that occurred in Atlantic Hurricane Dorian (2019): 1) precession and nutations of the vortex tilt and 2) blocking of the impinging upper-level environmental flow by the outflow. As Dorian came under the influence of an upper-level anticyclone, traditional methods of estimating vertical wind shear all indicated relatively low values were acting on the storm; however, high-spatiotemporal-resolution atmospheric motion vectors (AMVs) indicated that the environmental flow at upper levels was actually impinging on the vortex core, resulting in a vertical tilt. We employ a novel ensemble of centers of individual swaths of dual-Doppler radar data from WP-3D aircraft to characterize the precession and wobble of the vortex tilt. This tilting and wobbling preceded a sequence of outflow surges that acted to repel the impinging environmental flow, thereby reducing the shear and permitting ARI. We then apply prior methodology on satellite imagery for distinguishing ARI features. Finally, we use the AMV dataset to experiment with different shear calculations and show that the upper-level cross-vortex flow approaches zero. We discuss the implication of these results with regard to prior works on ARI and intensification in shear.

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C. A. Luecke, H. W. Wijesekera, E. Jarosz, D. W. Wang, J. C. Wesson, S. U. P. Jinadasa, H. J. S. Fernando, and W. J. Teague

Abstract

Long-term measurements of turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate (ε), and turbulent temperature variance dissipation rate (χ T) in the thermocline, along with currents, temperature, and salinity were made at two subsurface moorings in the southern Bay of Bengal (BoB). This is a part of a major international program, conducted between July 2018 and June 2019, for investigating the role of the BoB on the monsoon intraseasonal oscillations. One mooring was located on the typical path of the Southwest Monsoon Current (SMC), and the other was in a region where the Sri Lanka dome is typically found during the summer monsoon. Microstructure and finescale estimates of vertical diffusivity revealed the long-term subthermocline mixing patterns in the southern BoB. Enhanced turbulence and large eddy diffusivities were observed within the SMC during the passage of a subsurface-intensified anticyclonic eddy. During this time, background shear and strain appeared to influence high-frequency motions such as near-inertial waves and internal tides, leading to increased mixing. Near the Sri Lanka dome, enhanced dissipation occurred at the margins of the cyclonic feature. Turbulent mixing was enhanced with the passage of Rossby waves and eddies. During these events, values of χ T exceeding 10−4 °C2 s−1 were recorded concurrently with ε values exceeding 10−5 W kg−1. Inferred diffusivity peaked well above background values of 10−6 m2 s−1, leading to an annually averaged diffusivity near 10−4 m2 s−1. Turbulence appeared low throughout much of the deployment period. Most of the mixing occurred in spurts during isolated events.

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Matthew H. Hitchman and Shellie M. Rowe

Abstract

The role of differential advection in creating tropopause folds and strong constituent gradients near midlatitude westerly jets is investigated using the University of Wisconsin Nonhydrostatic Modeling System (UWNMS). Dynamical structures are compared with aircraft observations through a fold and subpolar jet (SPJ) during research flight 4 (RF04) of the Stratosphere–Troposphere Analyses of Regional Transport (START08) campaign. The observed distribution of water vapor and ozone during RF04 provides evidence of rapid transport in the SPJ, enhancing constituent gradients above relative to below the intrusion. The creation of a tropopause fold by quasi-isentropic differential advection on the upstream side of the trough is described. This fold was created by a southward jet streak in the SPJ, where upper-tropospheric air displaced the tropopause eastward in the 6–10 km layer, thereby overlying stratospheric air in the 3–6 km layer. The subsequent superposition of the subtropical and subpolar jets is also shown to result from quasi-isentropic differential advection. The occurrence of low values of ozone, water vapor, and potential vorticity on the equatorward side of the SPJ can be explained by convective transport of low-ozone air from the boundary layer, dehydration in the updraft, and detrainment of inertially unstable air in the outflow layer. An example of rapid juxtaposition with stratospheric air in the jet core is shown for RF01. The net effect of upstream convective events is suggested as a fundamental cause of the strong constituent gradients observed in midlatitude jets, with the aggregate divergence aloft causing upper-tropospheric air to flow over stratospheric air. Idealized diagrams illustrate the role of differential advection in creating tropopause folds and constituent gradient enhancement.

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Constantin W. Arnscheidt, John Marshall, Pierre Dutrieux, Craig D. Rye, and Ali Ramadhan

Abstract

Antarctic glacial meltwater is thought to play an important role in determining large-scale Southern Ocean climate trends, yet recent modeling efforts have proceeded without a good understanding of how its vertical distribution in the water column is set. To rectify this, here we conduct new large-eddy simulations of the ascent of a buoyant meltwater plume after its escape from beneath an Antarctic ice shelf. We find that the meltwater’s settling depth is primarily a function of the buoyancy forcing per unit width of the source and the ambient stratification, consistent with the classical theory of turbulent buoyant plumes and in contrast to previous work that suggested an important role for centrifugal instability. Our results further highlight the significant role played by localized variability in stratification; this helps explain observed interannual variability in the vertical meltwater distribution near Pine Island Glacier. Because of the vast heterogeneity in mass loss rates and ambient conditions at different Antarctic ice shelves, a dynamic parameterization of meltwater settling depth may be crucial for accurately simulating high-latitude climate in a warming world; we discuss how this may be developed following this work, and where the remaining challenges lie.

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Yu Zhang, Shiyun Yu, Dillon J. Amaya, Yu Kosaka, Sarah M. Larson, Xudong Wang, Jun-Chao Yang, Malte F. Stuecker, Shang-Ping Xie, Arthur J. Miller, and Xiaopei Lin

Abstract

Investigating Pacific meridional modes (PMMs) without the influence of tropical Pacific variability is technically difficult if based on observations or fully coupled model simulations due to their overlapping spatial structures. To confront this issue, the present study investigates both the North PMM (NPMM) and South PMM (SPMM) in terms of their associated atmospheric forcing and response processes based on a mechanically decoupled climate model simulation. In this experiment, the climatological wind stress is prescribed over the tropical Pacific, which effectively removes dynamically coupled tropical Pacific variability (e.g., El Niño–Southern Oscillation). Interannual NPMM in this experiment is forced not only by the North Pacific Oscillation but also by a North Pacific tripole (NPT) pattern of atmospheric internal variability, which primarily forces decadal NPMM variability. Interannual and decadal variability of the SPMM is partly forced by the South Pacific Oscillation. In turn, both interannual and decadal NPMM variability can excite atmospheric teleconnections over the Northern Hemisphere extratropics by influencing the meridional displacement of the climatological intertropical convergence zone throughout the whole year. Similarly, both interannual and decadal SPMM variability can also excite atmospheric teleconnections over the Southern Hemisphere extratropics by extending or shrinking the climatological South Pacific convergence zone in all seasons. Our results highlight a new poleward pathway by which both the NPMM and SPMM feed back to the extratropical climate, in addition to the equatorward influence on tropical Pacific variability.

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Weina Guan, Xianan Jiang, Xuejuan Ren, Gang Chen, and Qinghua Ding

Abstract

The leading interannual mode of winter surface air temperature over the North American (NA) sector, characterized by a “warm Arctic, cold continents” (WACC) pattern, exerts pronounced influences on NA weather and climate, while its underlying mechanisms remain elusive. In this study, the relative roles of surface boundary forcing versus internal atmospheric processes for the formation of the WACC pattern are quantitatively investigated using a combined analysis of observations and large-ensemble atmospheric global climate model simulations. Internal atmospheric variability is found to play an important role in shaping the year-to-year WACC variability, contributing to about half of the total variance. An anomalous SST pattern resembling the North Pacific mode is identified as a major surface boundary forcing pattern in driving the interannual WACC variability over the NA sector, with a minor contribution from sea ice variability over the Chukchi and Bering Seas. Findings from this study not only lead to improved understanding of underlying physics regulating the interannual WACC variability, but also provide important guidance for improved modeling and prediction of regional climate variability over NA and the Arctic region.

Open access
Andrea Camplani, Daniele Casella, Paolo Sanò, and Giulia Panegrossi

Abstract

This paper describes a new Passive Microwave Empirical Cold Surface Classification Algorithm (PESCA) developed for snow-cover detection and characterization by using passive microwave satellite measurements. The main goal of PESCA is to support the retrieval of falling snow, since several studies have highlighted the influence of snow-cover radiative properties on the falling-snow passive microwave signature. The developed method is based on the exploitation of the lower-frequency channels (<90 GHz), common to most microwave radiometers. The method applied to the conically scanning Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Microwave Imager (GMI) and the cross-track-scanning Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) is described in this paper. PESCA is based on a decision tree developed using an empirical method and verified using the AutoSnow product built from satellite measurements. The algorithm performance appears to be robust both for sensors in dry conditions (total precipitable water < 10 mm) and for mean surface elevation < 2500 m, independent of the cloud cover. The algorithm shows very good performance for cold temperatures (2-m temperature below 270 K) with a rapid decrease of the detection capabilities between 270 and 280 K, where 280 K is assumed as the maximum temperature limit for PESCA (overall detection statistics: probability of detection is 0.98 for ATMS and 0.92 for GMI, false alarm ratio is 0.01 for ATMS and 0.08 for GMI, and Heidke skill score is 0.72 for ATMS and 0.69 for GMI). Some inconsistencies found between the snow categories identified with the two radiometers are related to their different viewing geometries, spatial resolution, and temporal sampling. The spectral signatures of the different snow classes also appear to be different at high frequency (>90 GHz), indicating potential impact for snowfall retrieval. This method can be applied to other conically scanning and cross-track-scanning radiometers, including the future operational EUMETSAT Polar System Second Generation (EPS-SG) mission microwave radiometers.

Open access