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Anji Seth, Sara A. Rauscher, Michela Biasutti, Alessandra Giannini, Suzana J. Camargo, and Maisa Rojas

Abstract

Analyses of phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) experiments show that the global monsoon is expected to increase in area, precipitation, and intensity as the climate system responds to anthropogenic forcing. Concurrently, detailed analyses for several individual monsoons indicate a redistribution of rainfall from early to late in the rainy season. This analysis examines CMIP5 projected changes in the annual cycle of precipitation in monsoon regions, using a moist static energy framework to evaluate competing mechanisms identified to be important in precipitation changes over land. In the presence of sufficient surface moisture, the local response to the increase in downwelling energy is characterized by increased evaporation, increased low-level moist static energy, and decreased stability with consequent increases in precipitation. A remote mechanism begins with warmer oceans and operates on land regions via a warmer tropical troposphere, increased stability, and decreased precipitation. The remote mechanism controls the projected changes during winter, and the local mechanism controls the switch to increased precipitation during summer in most monsoon regions. During the early summer transition, regions where boundary layer moisture availability is reduced owing to decreases in evaporation and moisture convergence experience an enhanced convective barrier. Regions characterized by adequate evaporation and moisture convergence do not experience reductions in early summer precipitation.

This enhanced convective barrier leads to a redistribution of rainfall from early to late summer, and is robust in the American and African monsoons but muddled in Asia. As described here, viewing monsoons from their inherent ties to the annual cycle could help to fingerprint changes as they evolve.

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Paul A. Dirmeyer, Yan Jin, Bohar Singh, and Xiaoqin Yan

Abstract

Long-term changes in land–atmosphere interactions during spring and summer are examined over North America. A suite of models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project simulating preindustrial, historical, and severe future climate change scenarios are examined for changes in soil moisture, surface fluxes, atmospheric boundary layer characteristics, and metrics of land–atmosphere coupling.

Simulations of changes from preindustrial to modern conditions show warming brings stronger surface fluxes at high latitudes, while subtropical regions of North America respond with drier conditions. There is a clear anthropogenic aerosol response in midlatitudes that reduces surface radiation and heat fluxes, leading to shallower boundary layers and lower cloud base. Over the Great Plains, the signal does not reflect a purely radiatively forced response, showing evidence that the expansion of agriculture may have offset the aerosol impacts on the surface energy and water cycle.

Future changes show soils are projected to dry across North America, even though precipitation increases north of a line that retreats poleward from spring to summer. Latent heat flux also has a north–south dipole of change, increasing north and decreasing south of a line that also moves northward with the changing season. Metrics of land–atmosphere feedback increase over most of the continent but are strongest where latent heat flux increases in the same location and season where precipitation decreases. Combined with broadly elevated cloud bases and deeper boundary layers, land–atmosphere interactions are projected to become more important in the future with possible consequences for seasonal climate prediction.

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David E. Rupp, Philip W. Mote, Nathaniel L. Bindoff, Peter A. Stott, and David A. Robinson

Abstract

Significant declines in spring Northern Hemisphere (NH) snow cover extent (SCE) have been observed over the last five decades. As one step toward understanding the causes of this decline, an optimal fingerprinting technique is used to look for consistency in the temporal pattern of spring NH SCE between observations and simulations from 15 global climate models (GCMs) that form part of phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. The authors examined simulations from 15 GCMs that included both natural and anthropogenic forcing and simulations from 7 GCMs that included only natural forcing. The decline in observed NH SCE could be largely explained by the combined natural and anthropogenic forcing but not by natural forcing alone. However, the 15 GCMs, taken as a whole, underpredicted the combined forcing response by a factor of 2. How much of this underprediction was due to underrepresentation of the sensitivity to external forcing of the GCMs or to their underrepresentation of internal variability has yet to be determined.

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Brian A. Colle, Zhenhai Zhang, Kelly A. Lombardo, Edmund Chang, Ping Liu, and Minghua Zhang

Abstract

Extratropical cyclone track density, genesis frequency, deepening rate, and maximum intensity distributions over eastern North America and the western North Atlantic were analyzed for 15 models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) for the historical period (1979–2004) and three future periods (2009–38, 2039–68, and 2069–98). The cyclones were identified using an automated tracking algorithm applied to sea level pressure every 6 h. The CMIP5 results for the historical period were evaluated using the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR). The CMIP5 models were ranked given their track density, intensity, and overall performance for the historical period. It was found that six of the top seven CMIP5 models with the highest spatial resolution were ranked the best overall. These models had less underprediction of cyclone track density, more realistic distribution of intense cyclones along the U.S. East Coast, and more realistic cyclogenesis and deepening rates. The best seven models were used to determine projected future changes in cyclones, which included a 10%–30% decrease in cyclone track density and weakening of cyclones over the western Atlantic storm track, while in contrast there is a 10%–20% increase in cyclone track density over the eastern United States, including 10%–40% more intense (<980 hPa) cyclones and 20%–40% more rapid deepening rates just inland of the U.S. East Coast. Some of the reasons for these CMIP5 model differences were explored for the selected models based on model generated Eady growth rate, upper-level jet, surface baroclinicity, and precipitation.

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J. David Neelin, Baird Langenbrunner, Joyce E. Meyerson, Alex Hall, and Neil Berg

Abstract

Projections of possible precipitation change in California under global warming have been subject to considerable uncertainty because California lies between the region anticipated to undergo increases in precipitation at mid-to-high latitudes and regions of anticipated decrease in the subtropics. Evaluation of the large-scale model experiments for phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) suggests a greater degree of agreement on the sign of the winter (December–February) precipitation change than in the previous such intercomparison, indicating a greater portion of California falling within the increased precipitation zone. While the resolution of global models should not be relied on for accurate depiction of topographic rainfall distribution within California, the precipitation changes depend substantially on large-scale shifts in the storm tracks arriving at the coast. Significant precipitation increases in the region arriving at the California coast are associated with an eastward extension of the region of strong Pacific jet stream, which appears to be a robust feature of the large-scale simulated changes. This suggests that effects of this jet extension in steering storm tracks toward the California coast constitute an important factor that should be assessed for impacts on incoming storm properties for high-resolution regional model assessments.

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Leila M. V. Carvalho and Charles Jones

Abstract

Global warming has been linked to systematic changes in North and South America's climates and may severely impact the North American monsoon system (NAMS) and South American monsoon system (SAMS). This study examines interannual-to-decadal variations and changes in the low-troposphere (850 hPa) temperature (T850) and specific humidity (Q850) and relationships with daily precipitation over the tropical Americas using the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis, the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR), and phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) simulations for two scenarios: “historic” and high-emission representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5). Trends in the magnitude and area of the 85th percentiles were distinctly examined over North America (NA) and South America (SA) during the peak of the respective monsoon season. The historic simulations (1951–2005) and the two reanalyses agree well and indicate that significant warming has occurred over tropical SA with a remarkable increase in the area and magnitude of the 85th percentile in the last decade (1996–2005). The RCP8.5 CMIP5 ensemble mean projects an increase in the T850 85th percentile of about 2.5°C (2.8°C) by 2050 and 4.8°C (5.5°C) over SA (NA) by 2095 relative to 1955. The area of SA (NA) with T850 ≥ the 85th percentile is projected to increase from ~10% (15%) in 1955 to ~58% (~33%) by 2050 and ~80% (~50%) by 2095. The respective increase in the 85th percentile of Q850 is about 3 g kg−1 over SAMS and NAMS by 2095. CMIP5 models project variable changes in daily precipitation over the tropical Americas. The most consistent is increased rainfall in the intertropical convergence zone in December–February (DJF) and June–August (JJA) and decreased precipitation over NAMS in JJA.

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Zaitao Pan, Xiaodong Liu, Sanjiv Kumar, Zhiqiu Gao, and James Kinter

Abstract

Some parts of the United States, especially the southeastern and central portion, cooled by up to 2°C during the twentieth century, while the global mean temperature rose by 0.6°C (0.76°C from 1901 to 2006). Studies have suggested that the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) and the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) may be responsible for this cooling, termed the “warming hole” (WH), while other works reported that regional-scale processes such as the low-level jet and evapotranspiration contribute to the abnormity. In phase 3 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3), only a few of the 53 simulations could reproduce the cooling. This study analyzes newly available simulations in experiments from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) from 28 models, totaling 175 ensemble members. It was found that 1) only 19 out of 100 all-forcing historical ensemble members simulated negative temperature trend (cooling) over the southeast United States, with 99 members underpredicting the cooling rate in the region; 2) the missing of cooling in the models is likely due to the poor performance in simulating the spatial pattern of the cooling rather than the temporal variation, as indicated by a larger temporal correlation coefficient than spatial one between the observation and simulations; 3) the simulations with greenhouse gas (GHG) forcing only produced strong warming in the central United States that may have compensated the cooling; and 4) the all-forcing historical experiment compared with the natural-forcing-only experiment showed a well-defined WH in the central United States, suggesting that land surface processes, among others, could have contributed to the cooling in the twentieth century.

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Meng-Pai Hung, Jia-Lin Lin, Wanqiu Wang, Daehyun Kim, Toshiaki Shinoda, and Scott J. Weaver

Abstract

This study evaluates the simulation of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) and convectively coupled equatorial waves (CCEWs) in 20 models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) phase 5 (CMIP5) in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) and compares the results with the simulation of CMIP phase 3 (CMIP3) models in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). The results show that the CMIP5 models exhibit an overall improvement over the CMIP3 models in the simulation of tropical intraseasonal variability, especially the MJO and several CCEWs. The CMIP5 models generally produce larger total intraseasonal (2–128 day) variance of precipitation than the CMIP3 models, as well as larger variances of Kelvin, equatorial Rossby (ER), and eastward inertio-gravity (EIG) waves. Nearly all models have signals of the CCEWs, with Kelvin and mixed Rossby–gravity (MRG) and EIG waves being especially prominent. The phase speeds, as scaled to equivalent depths, are close to the observed value in 10 of the 20 models, suggesting that these models produce sufficient reduction in their effective static stability by diabatic heating. The CMIP5 models generally produce larger MJO variance than the CMIP3 models, as well as a more realistic ratio between the variance of the eastward MJO and that of its westward counterpart. About one-third of the CMIP5 models generate the spectral peak of MJO precipitation between 30 and 70 days; however, the model MJO period tends to be longer than observations as part of an overreddened spectrum, which in turn is associated with too strong persistence of equatorial precipitation. Only one of the 20 models is able to simulate a realistic eastward propagation of the MJO.

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Hailong Liu, Chunzai Wang, Sang-Ki Lee, and David Enfield

Abstract

This study investigates Atlantic warm pool (AWP) variability in the historical run of 19 coupled general circulation models (CGCMs) submitted to phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). As with the CGCMs in phase 3 (CMIP3), most models suffer from the cold SST bias in the AWP region and also show very weak AWP variability as represented by the AWP area index. However, for the seasonal cycle the AWP SST bias of model ensemble and model sensitivities are decreased compared with CMIP3, indicating that the CGCMs are improved. The origin of the cold SST bias in the AWP region remains unknown, but among the CGCMs in CMIP5 excess (insufficient) high-level cloud simulation decreases (enhances) the cold SST bias in the AWP region through the warming effect of the high-level cloud radiative forcing. Thus, the AWP SST bias in CMIP5 is more modulated by an erroneous radiation balance due to misrepresentation of high-level clouds rather than low-level clouds as in CMIP3. AWP variability is assessed as in the authors' previous study in the aspects of spectral analysis, interannual variability, multidecadal variability, and comparison of the remote connections with ENSO and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) against observations. In observations the maximum influences of the NAO and ENSO on the AWP take place in boreal spring. For some CGCMs these influences erroneously last to late summer. The effect of this overestimated remote forcing can be seen in the variability statistics as shown in the rotated EOF patterns from the models. It is concluded that the NCAR Community Climate System Model, version 4 (CCSM4), the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) Model E, version 2, coupled with the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) ocean model (GISS-E2H), and the GISS Model E, version 2, coupled with the Russell ocean model (GISS-E2R) are the best three models of CMIP5 in simulating AWP variability.

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Gabriel A. Vecchi, Rym Msadek, Whit Anderson, You-Soon Chang, Thomas Delworth, Keith Dixon, Rich Gudgel, Anthony Rosati, Bill Stern, Gabriele Villarini, Andrew Wittenberg, Xiasong Yang, Fanrong Zeng, Rong Zhang, and Shaoqing Zhang

Abstract

Retrospective predictions of multiyear North Atlantic Ocean hurricane frequency are explored by applying a hybrid statistical–dynamical forecast system to initialized and noninitialized multiyear forecasts of tropical Atlantic and tropical-mean sea surface temperatures (SSTs) from two global climate model forecast systems. By accounting for impacts of initialization and radiative forcing, retrospective predictions of 5- and 9-yr mean tropical Atlantic hurricane frequency show significant correlations relative to a null hypothesis of zero correlation. The retrospective correlations are increased in a two-model average forecast and by using a lagged-ensemble approach, with the two-model ensemble decadal forecasts of hurricane frequency over 1961–2011 yielding correlation coefficients that approach 0.9. These encouraging retrospective multiyear hurricane predictions, however, should be interpreted with care: although initialized forecasts have higher nominal skill than uninitialized ones, the relatively short record and large autocorrelation of the time series limits confidence in distinguishing between the skill caused by external forcing and that added by initialization. The nominal increase in correlation in the initialized forecasts relative to the uninitialized experiments is caused by improved representation of the multiyear tropical Atlantic SST anomalies. The skill in the initialized forecasts comes in large part from the persistence of a mid-1990s shift by the initialized forecasts, rather than from predicting its evolution. Predicting shifts like that observed in 1994/95 remains a critical issue for the success of multiyear forecasts of Atlantic hurricane frequency. The retrospective forecasts highlight the possibility that changes in observing system impact forecast performance.

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