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Clark Weaver
,
Dong L. Wu
,
P. K. Bhartia
,
Gordon Labow
,
David P. Haffner
,
Lauren Borgia
,
Laura McBride
, and
Ross Salawitch

Abstract

We construct a long-term record of top of atmosphere (TOA) shortwave (SW) albedo of clouds and aerosols from 340-nm radiances observed by NASA and NOAA satellite instruments from 1980 to 2013. We compare our SW cloud+aerosol albedo with simulated cloud albedo from both AMIP and historical CMIP6 simulations from 47 climate models. While most historical runs did not simulate our observed spatial pattern of the trends in albedo over the Pacific Ocean, four models qualitatively simulate our observed patterns. Those historical models and the AMIP models collectively estimate an equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) of ∼3.5°C, with an uncertainty from 2.7° to 5.1°C. Our ECS estimates are sensitive to the instrument calibration, which drives the wide range in ECS uncertainty. We use instrument calibrations that assume a neutral change in reflectivity over the Antarctic ice sheet. Our observations show increasing cloudiness over the eastern equatorial Pacific and off the coast of Peru as well as neutral cloud trends off the coast of Namibia and California. To produce our SW cloud+aerosol albedo, we first retrieve a black-sky cloud albedo (BCA) and empirically correct the sampling bias from diurnal variations. Then, we estimate the broadband proxy albedo using multiple nonlinear regression along with several years of CERES cloud albedo to obtain the regression coefficients. We validate our product against CERES data from the years not used in the regression. Zonal mean trends of our SW cloud+aerosol albedo show reasonable agreement with CERES as well as the Pathfinder Atmospheres–Extended (PATMOS-x) observational dataset.

Significance Statement

Equilibrium climate sensitivity is a measure of the rise in global temperature over hundreds of years after a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration. Current state-of-the-art climate models forecast a wide range of equilibrium climate sensitivities (1.5°–6°C), due mainly to how clouds, aerosols, and sea surface temperatures are simulated within these models. Using data from NASA and NOAA satellite instruments from 1980 to 2013, we first construct a dataset that describes how much sunlight has been reflected by clouds over the 34 years and then we compare this data record to output from 47 climate models. Based on these comparisons, we conclude the best estimate of equilibrium climate sensitivity is about 3.5°C, with an uncertainty range of 2.7°–5.1°C.

Open access
Yuanyuan Song
,
Yuanlong Li
,
Aixue Hu
,
Lijing Cheng
,
Gaël Forget
,
Xiaodan Chen
,
Jing Duan
, and
Fan Wang

Abstract

As the major sink of anthropogenic heat, the Southern Ocean has shown quasi-symmetric, deep-reaching warming since the mid-twentieth century. In comparison, the shorter-term heat storage pattern of the Southern Ocean is more complex and has notable impacts on regional climate and marine ecosystems. By analyzing observational datasets and climate model simulations, this study reveals that the Southern Ocean exhibits prominent decadal (>8 years) variability extending to ∼700-m depth and is characterized by out-of-phase changes in the Pacific and Atlantic–Indian Ocean sectors. Changes in the Pacific sector are larger in magnitude than those in the Atlantic–Indian Ocean sectors and dominate the total heat storage of the Southern Ocean on decadal time scales. Instead of heat uptake through surface heat fluxes, these asymmetric variations arise primarily from wind-driven heat redistribution. Pacemaker and preindustrial simulations of the Community Earth System Model version 1 (CESM1) suggest that these variations in Southern Ocean winds arise primarily from natural variability of the tropical Pacific, as represented by the interdecadal Pacific oscillation (IPO). Through atmospheric teleconnection, the positive phase of the IPO gives rise to higher-than-normal sea level pressure and anticyclonic wind anomalies in the 50°–70°S band of the Pacific sector. These winds lead to warming of 0–700 m by driving the convergence of warm water. The opposite processes, involving cyclonic winds and upper-layer divergence, occur in the Atlantic–Indian Ocean sector. These findings aid our understanding of the time-varying heat storage of the Southern Ocean and provide useful implications on initialized decadal climate prediction.

Restricted access
Haoyu Yang
,
Shaoqing Zhang
,
Jinzhuo Cai
,
Dong Wang
,
Xiong Deng
, and
Yang Gao

Abstract

Climate model simulations tend to drift away from the real world because of model errors induced by an incomplete understanding and implementation of dynamics and physics. Parameter estimation uses data assimilation methods to optimize model parameters, which minimizes model errors by incorporating observations into the model through state-parameter covariance. However, traditional parameter estimation schemes that simultaneously estimate multiple parameters using observations could fail to reduce model errors because of the low signal-to-noise ratio in the covariance. Here, based on the saturation time scales of model sensitivity that depend on different parameters and model components, we design a new multicycle parameter estimation scheme, where each cycle is determined by the saturation time scale of sensitivity of the model state associated with observations in each climate system component. The new scheme is evaluated using two low-order models. The results show that due to high signal-to-noise ratios sustained during the parameter estimation process, the new scheme consistently reduces model errors as the number of estimated parameters increases. The new scheme may improve comprehensive coupled climate models by optimizing multiple parameters with multisource observations, thereby addressing the multiscale nature of component motions in the Earth system.

Significance Statement

Parameter estimation is used to reduce model errors by optimizing the model parameter values with observational information, which is important for improving long-term predictions. In previous parameter estimation methods, multisource observations have not yet been sufficiently used because the quality and dimension size of the optimized parameters are limited. Here, based on the multiscale nature of component motion in the Earth system, we develop a new parameter estimation method that makes full use of multisource observations. The new method processes the parameters being estimated sequentially according to sensitivity magnitudes and saturation time scales so that the parameters can be continuously optimized. This new method has large application potential for weather and climate reanalyses and predictions.

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Michael Morris
,
Paul J. Kushner
,
G. W. K. Moore
, and
Oya Mercan

Abstract

The effect of anthropogenic climate change on extreme near-surface wind speeds is uncertain. Observed trends are weak and difficult to disentangle from internal variability, and model projections disagree on the sign and magnitude of trends. Standard coarse-resolution climate models represent the fine structures of relevant physical phenomena such as extratropical cyclones (ETCs), upper-level jet streaks, surface energy fluxes, and land surface variability less skillfully than their high-resolution counterparts. Here, we use simulations with the NCAR Community Earth System Model with both uniform (110 km) resolution and the variable-resolution configuration (VR-CESM-SONT, from 110 to 7 km) to study the effect of refined spatial resolution on projections of extreme strong and weak wind speeds in the Great Lakes region under end-of-century RCP8.5 forcing. The variable-resolution configuration projects strengthening of strong-wind events in the refined region with the opposite occurring in the uniform-resolution simulation. The two configurations provide consistent changes to synoptic-scale circulations associated with high-wind events. However, only the variable-resolution configuration projects weaker static stability, enhanced turbulent vertical mixing, and consequentially enhanced surface wind speeds because boundary layer dynamics are better captured in the refined region. Both models project increased frequency of extreme weak winds, though only VR-CESM-SONT resolves the cold-season inversions and summertime high temperatures associated with stagnant wind events. The identifiable mechanism of the changes to strong winds in VR-CESM-SONT provides confidence in its projections and demonstrates the value of enhanced spatial resolution for the study of extreme winds under climate change.

Significance Statement

In this study, we compare climate change projections of high and low extreme wind speeds in the Great Lakes region between a standard coarse-resolution simulation and a high-resolution simulation performed using the same climate model. The fine-resolution simulation projects strengthening high wind speeds, opposite to the coarse-resolution simulation. Both project increasing frequency of extreme weak winds, but the human-health-related impacts of stagnant winds are only captured at fine resolution. The changes in the coarse-resolution simulation are explained by changes to large-scale circulation, while the fine-resolution changes are linked to local processes the coarse model does not resolve. This helps explain the diverging projections of strong winds and gives greater credibility to the fine-resolution simulation.

Restricted access
Qiuping Ren
,
Young-Oh Kwon
,
Jiayan Yang
,
Rui Xin Huang
,
Yuanlong Li
, and
Fan Wang

Abstract

The storage of anthropogenic heat in oceans is geographically inhomogeneous, leading to differential warming rates among major ocean basins with notable regional climate impacts. Our analyses of observation-based datasets show that the average warming rate of 0–2000-m Atlantic Ocean since 1960 is nearly threefold stronger than that of the Indo-Pacific Oceans. This feature is robustly captured by historical simulations of phase 6 of Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) and is projected to persist into the future. In CMIP6 simulations, the ocean heat uptake through surface heat fluxes plays a central role in shaping the interbasin warming contrasts. In addition to the slowdown of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation as stressed in some existing studies, alterations of atmospheric conditions under greenhouse warming are also essential for the increased surface heat flux into the North Atlantic. Specifically, the reduced anthropogenic aerosol concentration in the North Atlantic since the 1980s has been favorable for the enhanced Atlantic Ocean heat uptake in CMIP6 models. Another previously overlooked factor is the geographic shape of the Atlantic Ocean which is relatively wide in midlatitudes and narrow in low latitudes, in contrast to that of the Indo-Pacific Oceans. Combined with the poleward migration of atmospheric circulations, which leads to the meridional pattern of surface heat uptake with broadly enhanced heat uptake in midlatitude oceans due to reduced surface wind speed and cloud cover, the geographic shape effect renders a higher basin-average heat uptake in the Atlantic.

Restricted access
Elena Saggioro
,
Theodore G. Shepherd
, and
Jeff Knight

Abstract

Skillful prediction of the Southern Hemisphere (SH) eddy-driven jet is crucial for representation of mid-to-high-latitude SH climate variability. In the austral spring-to-summer months, the jet and the stratospheric polar vortex variabilities are strongly coupled. Since the vortex is more predictable and influenced by long-lead drivers 1 month or more ahead, the stratosphere is considered a promising pathway for improving forecasts in the region on subseasonal to seasonal (S2S) time scales. However, a quantification of this predictability has been lacking, as most modeling studies address only one of the several interacting drivers at a time, while statistical analyses quantify association but not skill. This methodological gap is addressed through a knowledge-driven probabilistic causal network approach, quantified with seasonal ensemble hindcast data. The approach enables to quantify the jet’s long-range predictability arising from known late-winter drivers, namely, El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Indian Ocean dipole (IOD), upward wave activity flux, and polar night jet oscillation, mediated by the vortex variability in spring. Network-based predictions confirm the vortex as determinant for skillful jet predictions, both for the jet’s poleward shift in late spring and its equatorward shift in early summer. ENSO, IOD, late-winter wave activity flux, and polar night jet oscillation only provide moderate prediction skill to the vortex. This points to early spring submonthly variability as important for determining the vortex state leading up to its breakdown, creating a predictability bottleneck for the jet. The method developed here offers a new avenue to quantify the predictability provided by multiple, interacting drivers on S2S time scales.

Significance Statement

Predictions of the Southern Hemisphere midlatitude jet stream are crucial for skillful forecasts of the austral mid-to-high latitudes. Several oceanic and atmospheric phenomena could, if better represented in models, improve spring-to-summer jet predictions on subseasonal to seasonal time scales. However, the combined potential skill arising from the inclusion of such phenomena has not been quantified. This study does so by using a probabilistic causal network model, representing the connections between those drivers and the jet with conditional probabilities, trained on large sets of model data. The stratospheric polar vortex is confirmed as crucial predictor of jet variability but is itself hard to predict a month in advance due to submonthly variability, creating a predictability bottleneck for the jet.

Open access
Olawale James Ikuyajolu
,
Luke Van Roekel
,
Steven R. Brus
,
Erin E. Thomas
,
Yi Deng
, and
James J. Benedict

Abstract

This study investigates the sensitivity of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) to changes to the bulk flux parameterization and the role of ocean surface waves in air–sea coupling using a fully coupled ocean–atmosphere–wave model. The atmospheric and ocean model components of the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) are coupled to a spectral wave model, WAVEWATCH III (WW3). Two experiments with wind speed–dependent bulk algorithms (NCAR and COARE3.0a) and one experiment with wave-state-dependent flux (COR3.0a-WAV) were conducted. We modify COARE3.0a to include surface roughness calculated within WW3 and also account for the buffering effect of waves on the relative difference between air-side and ocean-side momentum flux. Differences in surface fluxes, primarily caused by discrepancies in drag coefficients, result in significant differences in MJO’s properties. While COARE3.0a has better convection–circulation coupling than NCAR, it exhibits anomalous MJO convection east of the date line. The wave-state-dependent flux (COR3.0-WAV) improves the MJO representation over the default COARE3.0 algorithm. Strong easterlies over the Pacific Ocean in COARE3.0a enhance the latent heat flux (LHFLX). This is responsible for the anomalous MJO propagation after the date line. In COR3.0a-WAV, waves reduce the anomalous easterlies, leading to a decrease in LHFLX and MJO dissipation after the date line. These findings highlight the role of surface fluxes in MJO simulation fidelity. Most importantly, we show that the proper treatment of wave-induced effects in bulk flux parameterization improves the simulation of coupled climate variability.

Open access
Kitty Attwood
,
Richard Washington
, and
Callum Munday

Abstract

Heat lows are key features of subtropical climates and monsoon systems. In southern Africa, they are pivotal to understanding divergent climate change projections, in particular the veracity of future rainfall decline. Compared to other heat lows, including in West Africa and Australia, the southern African heat low remains poorly documented. Here, we analyze the diurnal cycle, seasonal variability, and trends of the heat low in reanalysis data. In ERA5, 462 strong heat low days are detected between September and March from 1990 to 2019, equating to 7.3% of days sampled. These events feature ascent (exceeding −0.2 Pa s−1) at low levels (strongest between 800 and 600 hPa) and subsidence aloft, generating low-level cyclonic flow with anticyclonic flow above. This flow exhibits strong diurnal variability, with peak windspeeds between 0600 and 0900 UTC and maximum ascent at ∼2300 UTC. Heat lows form preferentially over Angola in September (∼14°S) and October (15°–20°S), and in Namibia from November to March (∼20°–26°S). Strongest ascent occurs over areas of high elevation. Finally, we show a rapidly increasing frequency of strong heat low days, with a 175% increase between 1960–89 and 1990–2019. The greatest increase (459%) has occurred in the early summer months of September and October, consistent with projections of delayed rainfall onset. Strikingly, more strong heat lows are detected in the most recent 5 years of analysis (2014–19) than in the 30-yr period from 1960 to 1989. These results suggest the heat low is an important feature in determining drying trends over southern Africa and is a vital indicator of climate model accuracy.

Significance Statement

This work documents the heat low that forms in southern Africa in the lowest levels of the atmosphere. The feature is present during austral summer (from September to March) and is associated with below average rainfall across much of the subcontinent. The frequency of strong heat lows has rapidly increased in line with regional amplified warming trends. The heat low is identified as an important control on circulation and precipitation patterns and changes in the frequency or intensity of the feature in the future are likely to influence the strength of declining rainfall trends across southern Africa.

Open access
Isaac Davis
and
Brian Medeiros

Abstract

The Community Earth System Model, version 2 (CESM2), has a very high climate sensitivity driven by strong positive cloud feedbacks. To evaluate the simulated clouds in the present climate and characterize their response with climate warming, a clustering approach is applied to three independent satellite cloud products and a set of coupled climate simulations. Using k-means clustering with a Wasserstein distance cost function, a set of typical cloud configurations is derived for the satellite cloud products. Using satellite simulator output, the model clouds are classified into the observed cloud regimes in both current and future climates. The model qualitatively reproduces the observed cloud configurations in the historical simulation using the same time period as the satellite observations, but it struggles to capture the observed heterogeneity of clouds which leads to an overestimation of the frequency of a few preferred cloud regimes. This problem is especially apparent for boundary layer clouds. Those low-level cloud regimes also account for much of the climate response in the late twenty-first century in four shared socioeconomic pathway simulations. The model reduces the frequency of occurrence of these low-cloud regimes, especially in tropical regions under large-scale subsidence, in favor of regimes that have weaker cloud radiative effects.

Open access
Soumik Ghosh
,
Orli Lachmy
, and
Yohai Kaspi

Abstract

Climate models generally predict a poleward shift of the midlatitude circulation in response to climate change induced by increased greenhouse gas concentration, but the intermodel spread of the eddy-driven jet shift is large and poorly understood. Recent studies point to the significance of midlatitude midtropospheric diabatic heating for the intermodel spread in the jet latitude. To examine the role of diabatic heating in the jet response to climate change, a series of simulations are performed using an idealized aquaplanet model. It is found that both increased CO2 concentration and increased saturation vapor pressure induce a similar warming response, leading to a poleward and upward shift of the midlatitude circulation. An exception to this poleward shift is found for a certain range of temperatures, where the eddy-driven jet shifts equatorward, while the latitude of the eddy heat flux remains essentially unchanged. This equatorward jet shift is explained by the connection between the zonal-mean momentum and heat budgets: increased diabatic heating in the midlatitude midtroposphere balances the cooling by the Ferrel cell ascending branch, enabling an equatorward shift of the Ferrel cell streamfunction and eddy-driven jet, while the latitude of the eddy heat flux remains unchanged. The equatorward jet shift and the strengthening of the midlatitude diabatic heating are found to be sensitive to the model resolution. The implications of these results for a potential reduction in the jet shift uncertainty through the improvement of convective parameterizations are discussed.

Significance Statement

The latitude of the eddy-driven jet displays considerable variation in climate models, and the factors influencing this variability are poorly understood. This work connects the strength of midlatitude diabatic heating to the structure of the midlatitude circulation and the eddy-driven jet latitude. The direction of the eddy-driven jet shift in response to climate change is found to depend on the diabatic heating response, which in turn depends on the parameterized convective heating. These results highlight the role of convective parameterizations in the representation of the midlatitude circulation in climate models. Additionally, the results imply that the eddy-driven jet shift cannot be explained solely based on the storm-track response to climate change, in contrast with previously suggested explanations.

Restricted access