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Klaus Weickmann
,
Edward Berry
,
Victor Gensini
,
David Gold
, and
Thomas Petroski

Abstract

Atmospheric angular momentum (AAM) is used to study the variability of Earth’s atmospheric circulation during the past 45 years, a time of considerable climate change. Using global AAM, two interdecadal states are defined covering the periods 1977–98 (hereinafter P1) and 1999–2022 (P2). Global AAM decreased from P1 to P2 and was accompanied by weakened subtropical jet streams in both hemispheres, strong convection around the northern Maritime Continent, and a strengthened sea surface temperature (SST) gradient across the tropical Pacific Ocean. The period differences project onto 1) internal interdecadal Pacific variability (IPV), 2) a postulated transient ocean thermostat response to greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions, and 3) circulation anomalies related to the ozone hole. During 1977–2023, the first two processes are forcing the climate toward larger Pacific Ocean SST gradients and a poleward expansion of the Indo-Pacific warm pool (IPWP), especially into the Northern Hemisphere. The ozone hole produces its own distinct pattern of anomalies in the Southern Hemisphere that tend to become persistent in the early 1990s. The zonal and vertical mean AAM variations during P1 have frequent westerly wind anomalies between 40°N and 40°S with poleward propagation on interannual time scales. During P2, the circulation is dominated by subtropical easterly wind anomalies, poleward-shifted jets, and weaker propagation. Locally, the zonal mean anomalies manifest as midlatitude ridges that lead to continental droughts. Case studies illustrate the weakened subtropical jet streams of P2 and examine the factors behind a transition to La Niña in early 2020 that maintains the P2 pattern.

Open access
Cara Nissen
,
Ralph Timmermann
,
Mario Hoppema
, and
Judith Hauck

Abstract

Tipping points in the Earth system describe critical thresholds beyond which a single component, part of the system, or the system as a whole changes from one stable state to another. In the present-day Southern Ocean, the Weddell Sea constitutes an important dense-water formation site, associated with efficient deep-ocean carbon and oxygen transfer and low ice-shelf basal melt rates. Here, a regime shift will occur when continental shelves are continuously flushed with warm, oxygen-poor offshore waters from intermediate depth, leading to less efficient deep-ocean carbon and oxygen transfer and higher ice-shelf basal melt rates. We use a global ocean–biogeochemistry model including ice-shelf cavities and an eddy-permitting grid in the southern Weddell Sea to address the susceptibility of this region to such a system change for four twenty-first-century emission scenarios. Assessing the projected changes in shelf–open-ocean density gradients, bottom-water properties, and on-shelf heat transport, our results indicate that the Weddell Sea undergoes a regime shift by 2100 in the highest-emission scenario, SSP5–8.5, but not yet in the lower-emission scenarios. The regime shift is imminent by 2100 in the scenarios SSP3–7.0 and SSP2–4.5, but avoidable under the lowest-emission scenario SSP1–2.6. While shelf-bottom waters freshen and acidify everywhere, bottom waters in the Filchner Trough undergo accelerated warming and deoxygenation following the system change, with implications for local ecosystems and ice-shelf basal melt. Additionally, deep-ocean carbon and oxygen transfer decline, implying that the local changes ultimately affect ocean circulation, climate, and ecosystems globally.

Open access
Leif M. Swenson
and
Richard Grotjahn

Abstract

We investigate the large-scale weather patterns during extreme precipitation (PEx) events over the conterminous United States (CONUS) by applying a version of the quasigeostrophic (QG) omega equation. This work aims to develop a climatology of the weather patterns most related to PEx events during current climate. Extreme events are examined for each of seven regions defined by consistent annual cycles of precipitation and spanning the CONUS. For the CONUS we train several self-organizing maps (SOM) on a pressure–time series of vertical velocity from each of the advective forcing terms in the QG omega equation for each extreme event. The unsupervised learning of the SOM allows us to identify the most descriptive set of nine patterns in vertical velocity associated with precipitation extremes. This method finds multiple frontal- and cyclone-driven patterns while grouping primarily convective events into one pattern. Frontal events include a synoptic pattern consistent with West Coast atmospheric river events as well as pattern groups linked to developing and to mature (“occluded”) frontal cyclones. The primary patterns found during PEx events vary seasonally and geographically. Frontal cyclone patterns are most common during PEx events during summer in the part of the Great Plains and during winter for the Northeast, Southeast, Pacific Northwest, and Southwest. Convection is the most common pattern during summer in all regions. Except in the Southeast, the annual cycles of monthly number of PEx events and average precipitation match well, partially validating our choice of regions to aggregate PEx events.

Open access
Timothy A. Myers
,
Mark D. Zelinka
, and
Stephen A. Klein

Abstract

Model evidence for the “pattern effect” assumes that global climate models (GCMs) faithfully simulate how clouds respond to varying sea surface temperature (SST) patterns and associated meteorological perturbations. We exploit time-invariant satellite-based estimates of the sensitivity of marine low clouds to meteorological perturbations to estimate how these clouds responded to time-varying SST patterns and meteorology between 1870 and 2014. GCMs and reanalyses provide estimates of the historical meteorological changes. Observations suggest that increasing estimated inversion strength (EIS) between 1980 and 2014 produced a negative low cloud feedback, opposite to the positive feedback expected from increasing CO2. This indicates that the processes responsible for marine cloud changes from 1980 to the near present are distinct from those associated with an increase in CO2. We also observationally constrain the difference between the historical near-global marine low cloud feedback, λ cloud hist , and that arising from increasing CO2, λ cloud 4 xCO2 . We find that this cloud feedback pattern effect depends strongly on time period and reanalysis dataset, and that varying changes in EIS and SST with warming explain much of its variability. Between 1980 and 2014, we estimate that λ cloud 4 xCO2 λ cloud hist = 0.78 ± 0.21 W m 2 K 1 (90% confidence) assuming meteorological changes from the Multiple Reanalysis Ensemble, implying a total pattern effect (that arising from all climate feedbacks) of 1.86 ± 0.45 W m−2 K−1. This observational evidence corroborates previous quantitative estimates of the pattern effect, which heretofore relied largely upon GCM-based cloud changes. However, disparate historical meteorological changes across individual reanalyses contribute to considerable uncertainty in its magnitude.

Open access
Peter M. F. Sheehan
,
Adrian J. Matthews
,
Benjamin G. M. Webber
,
Alejandra Sanchez-Franks
,
Nicholas P. Klingaman
, and
P. N. Vinayachandran

Abstract

The southwest monsoon delivers over 70% of India’s annual rainfall and is crucial to the success of agriculture across much of South Asia. Monsoon precipitation is known to be sensitive to sea surface temperature (SST) in the Bay of Bengal (BoB). Here, we use a configuration of the Unified Model of the Met Office coupled to an ocean mixed layer model to investigate the role of upper-ocean features in the BoB on southwest monsoon precipitation. We focus on the pronounced zonal and meridional SST gradients characteristic of the BoB; the zonal gradient in particular has an as-yet unknown effect on monsoon rainfall. We find that the zonal SST gradient is responsible for a 50% decrease in rainfall over the southern BoB (approximately 5 mm day−1), and a 50% increase in rainfall over Bangladesh and northern India (approximately 1 mm day−1). This increase is remotely forced by a strengthening of the monsoon Hadley circulation. The meridional SST gradient acts to decrease precipitation over the BoB itself, similarly to the zonal SST gradient, but does not have comparable effects over land. The impacts of barrier layers and high-salinity subsurface water are also investigated, but neither has significant effects on monsoon precipitation in this model; the influence of barrier layers on precipitation is felt in the months after the southwest monsoon. Models should accurately represent oceanic processes that directly influence BoB SST, such as the BoB cold pool, in order to faithfully represent monsoon rainfall.

Open access
Zheng-Qin Shen
,
Gao-Zhen Nie
,
Xin Qiu
,
Jian-Feng Gu
, and
Yi Zhang

Abstract

This study examines the changes in the outer size distribution of landfalling tropical cyclones (TCs) over the Chinese mainland from 1977 to 2020. The period was divided into two epochs: 1977–98 and 1999–2020. The results show that the size distribution of landfalling TCs over South China has no apparent change, while that of landfalling TCs over East China (LTCEC) is narrower in the second epoch, and the difference in the median sizes between East China and South China become more significant. Furthermore, it is found that LTCEC formed over the western part of the western North Pacific (W-WNP) shifted to a larger size range (300–500 km) at landfall, while those formed over the eastern part of the western North Pacific (E-WNP) rarely grew to extremely large size (>500 km). Further investigation revealed that over the W-WNP, the genesis position of LTCEC migrated equatorward during the second epoch, leading to a longer TC lifetime before landfall. Also, the increase of background relative vorticity and moisture associated with the southward migration is conducive to larger initial vortices. For TCs originating from the E-WNP, the change in the active area of TC passages reduced the frequency of TCs affecting the Chinese coast. Moreover, the growth of TC size during the intensification stage was significantly suppressed, lowering the occurrence probability of extremely large TCs. Changes in the large-scale thermodynamic environments between the two epochs were explored. Increased static stability and decreased convective available potential energy are possible factors limiting TC size increase.

Open access
David A. Randall
,
Eli Tziperman
,
Mark D. Branson
,
Jadwiga H. Richter
, and
Wanying Kang

Abstract

We examine the hypothesis that the observed connection between the stratospheric quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) and the strength of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) is modulated by the sea surface temperature (SST)—for example, by El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). A composite analysis shows that, globally, La Niña SSTs are remarkably similar to those that occur during the easterly phase of the QBO. A maximum covariance analysis suggests that MJO power and SST are strongly linked on both the ENSO time scale and the QBO time scale. We analyze simulations with a modified configuration of version 2 of the Community Earth System Model, with a high top and fine vertical resolution. The model is able to simulate ENSO, the QBO, and the MJO. The ocean-coupled version of the model simulates the QBO, ENSO, and MJO, but does not simulate the observed QBO–MJO connection. When driven with prescribed observed SST anomalies based on composites for QBO east and QBO west (QBOE and QBOW), however, the same atmospheric model produces a modest enhancement of MJO power during QBOE relative to QBOW, as observed. We explore the possibility that the SST anomalies are forced by the QBO itself. Indeed, composite Hovmöller diagrams based on observations show the propagation of QBO zonal wind anomalies all the way from the upper stratosphere to the surface. Also, subsurface ocean temperature composites reveal a similarity between the western Pacific and Indian Ocean subsurface signal between La Niña and QBOE.

Open access
Nguyen Dac Da
,
Gregory R. Foltz
,
Karthik Balaguru
, and
Eleda Fernald

Abstract

Tropical cyclones (TC) often induce strong mixing in the upper ocean that generates a trail of cooler sea surface temperature (Twake) in their wakes. The Twake can affect TC intensity, so its prediction is important, especially in coastal regions where TCs can make landfall. Coastal Twakes are often more complex than those in the open ocean due to the influences of coastline geometry, highly variable water depth, continental runoff, and shelf processes. Using observational data since 2002, here we show a significantly stronger global mean Twake in coastal regions compared to offshore regions. Temperature stratification is the main driver of stronger coastal Twakes in the North Atlantic and east Pacific. In the northwest Pacific and north Indian Ocean, the differences between coastal and offshore Twakes are smaller due to compensation between TC forcings and ocean stratification. The north Indian Ocean is unique in the Northern Hemisphere because salinity stratification plays a major role on the spatial distribution of Twake. In the South Pacific Ocean, TC intensity and translation speed are crucial for explaining coastal–offshore Twake differences, while ocean stratification and mixed layer depth are more important for the coastal–offshore Twake differences in the south Indian Ocean. These findings suggest that coastal–offshore differences in ocean stratification need to be properly represented in models in order to capture changes in TC-induced ocean cooling as storms approach landfall.

Significance Statement

Landfalling tropical cyclones (TCs) often cause considerable damage in coastal regions with dense human populations. Understanding TC–ocean interaction and how it differs between coastal and offshore regions can help predict TC intensity prior to landfall. Sea surface cooling after TC passage is an important proxy for TC–ocean interaction. A global evaluation of coastal TC-induced cooling has not been conducted. Using data covering two decades, we show significantly stronger TC-induced surface cooling in coastal regions compared to offshore regions at the global scale and in all basins except the northwest Pacific and north Indian Ocean. The difference is driven mainly by upper-ocean conditions in the North Atlantic, east Pacific, and south Indian Ocean, and by TC characteristics in the South Pacific.

Open access
Hongjie Liang
and
Wen Zhou

Abstract

Arctic summer sea ice has been declining in recent decades. In this study, we investigate the beginning of the Arctic melting season, i.e., sea ice melt onset (MO), in the Laptev Sea (LS) and East Siberian Sea (ESS) along the Northern Sea route. Three leading modes are identified by EOF decomposition, which we call the LE-mode, L-mode, and E-mode. In positive phases these modes exhibit earlier MO in the two seas, a seesaw-like structure in the southwest–northeast direction with earlier MO in the LS, or in the southeast–northwest direction with earlier MO in the ESS. The LE-mode, L-mode, and E-mode are closely related to the Arctic Oscillation (AO) in April, the Barents Oscillation (BO) in April, and the AO in May, respectively. When the AO in April is positive, a low pressure anomaly northwest of the LS and ESS brings warm, moist air masses from the lower latitudes toward the LS and ESS and causes earlier MO, corresponding to the positive LE-mode. When the BO in April is negative, a cyclonic anomaly around the Barents Sea tends to warm and moisten the LS and cause earlier MO there, corresponding to the positive L-mode. When AO in May is positive, a low pressure anomaly northeast of the LS and ESS brings more warm, moist air toward the ESS and causes earlier MO there, corresponding to the positive E-mode. In the 1980s, the negative LE-mode was prominent whereas in the early 1990s the positive LE-mode was dominant. Since the mid-1990s, the L-mode and E-mode have appeared more frequently.

Open access
Qiaohong Sun
,
Francis Zwiers
,
Xuebin Zhang
, and
Yaheng Tan

Abstract

El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has a profound influence on the occurrence of extreme precipitation events at local and regional scales in the present-day climate, and thus it is important to understand how that influence may change under future global warming. We consider this question using the large-ensemble simulations of CESM2, which simulates ENSO well historically. CESM2 projects that the influence of ENSO on extreme precipitation will strengthen further under the SSP3–7.0 scenario in most regions whose extreme precipitation regimes are strongly affected by ENSO in the boreal cold season. Extreme precipitation in the boreal cold season that exceeds historical thresholds is projected to become more common throughout the ENSO cycle. The difference in the intensity of extreme precipitation events that occur under El Niño and La Niña conditions will increase, resulting in “more extreme and more variable hydroclimate extremes.” We also consider the processes that affect the future intensity of extreme precipitation and how it varies with the ENSO cycle by partitioning changes into thermodynamic and dynamic components. The thermodynamic component, which reflects increases in atmospheric moisture content, results in a relatively uniform intensification of ENSO-driven extreme precipitation variation. In contrast, the dynamic component, which reflects changes in vertical motion, produces a strong regional difference in the response to forcing. In some regions, this component amplifies the thermodynamic-induced changes, while in others, it offsets them or even results in reduction in extreme precipitation variation.

Open access