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David P. Rowell
and
Ségolène Berthou

Abstract

Convection-permitting (CP) models promise much in response to the demand for increased localization of future climate information: greater resolution of influential land surface characteristics, improved representation of convective storms, and unprecedented resolution of user-relevant data. In practice, however, it is contended that the benefits of enhanced resolution cannot be fully realized due to the gap between models’ computational and effective resolution. Nevertheless, where surface forcing is strongly heterogeneous, one can argue that usable information may persist close to the grid scale. Here we analyze a 4.5-km resolution CP projection for Africa, asking whether and where fine-scale projection detail is robust at sub-25-km scales, focusing on geolocated rainfall features (rather than Lagrangian motion). Statistically significant detail for seasonal means and daily extremes is most frequent in regions of high topographic variability, most prominently in East Africa throughout the annual cycle, West Africa in the monsoon season, and to a lesser extent over Southern Africa. Lake coastal features have smaller but significant impacts on projection detail, whereas ocean coastlines and urban conurbations have little or no detectable impact. The amplitude of this sub-25-km projection detail can be similar to that of the local climatology in mountainous regions (or around a third near East Africa’s lake shores), so potentially beneficial for improved localization of future climate information. In flatter regions distant from coasts (the majority of Africa), spatial heterogeneity can be explained by chaotic weather variability. Here, the robustness of local climate projection information can be substantially enhanced by spatial aggregation to approximately 25-km scales, especially for daily extremes and equatorial regions.

Significance Statement

Recent substantial increases in the horizontal resolution of climate models bring the potential for both more reliable and more local future climate information. However, the best spatial scale on which to analyze such data for impacts assessments remains unclear. We examine a 4.5-km resolution climate projection for Africa, focusing on seasonal and daily rainfall. Spatially fixed fine-scale projection detail is found to be statistically robust at sub-25-km scales in the most mountainous regions and to a lesser extent along lake coastlines. Elsewhere, the model data may be better aggregated to at least 25-km scales to reduce sampling uncertainties. Such evolving guidance on the circumstances and extent of high-resolution data aggregation will help users gain greater benefit from climate model projections.

Open access
Yeon-Woo Choi
and
Elfatih A. B. Eltahir

Abstract

For millennia, Mesopotamia was blessed by enough water supplied by the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. However, the dwindling freshwater resource is no longer enough. In the future, climate change coupled with a growing population could considerably exacerbate the current water deficit. Based on simulations by carefully selected global and regional climate models, we conclude that these river basins may possibly face further water shortages (mainly due to a reduction in spring-season precipitation) in the next few decades (2021–50) under a scenario of high emissions of greenhouse gases. However, there is no consensus among models regarding these near-term (2021–50) projections of change in precipitation, and society is likely to face the challenge of how to prepare for this uncertain future. The story is different for the late decades of this century: we project, with significantly more confidence, a robust decrease in wet-season (winter to spring) precipitation over the headwaters of these river basins, worsening future water deficits and implying a century-long drying trend over Mesopotamia. Possible physical mechanisms are proposed and discussed. As global warming progresses, higher sea level pressure, centered on the Mediterranean Sea, will likely make upstream storms less frequent and weaker, leading to drying over Mesopotamia. Further, projections show a poleward migration of the fewer Mediterranean storm tracks, decreasing the frequency of storms that penetrate into Mesopotamia. Implementing a global net-zero carbon emissions policy by midcentury could mitigate the severity of the projected droughts in this region.

Open access
Yao Feng
,
Hong Wang
,
Wenbin Liu
, and
Fubao Sun

Abstract

Soil moisture (SM) during the vegetation growing season largely affects plant transpiration and photosynthesis, and further alters the land energy and water balance through its impact on the energy partition into latent and sensible heat fluxes. To highlight the impact of strong vegetation activity, we investigate global SM–climate interactions over the peak growing season (PGS) during 1982–2015 based on multisource datasets. Results suggest widespread positive SM–precipitation (P), SM–evapotranspiration (ET), and negative SM–temperature (T) interactions with non-negligible negative SM–P, SM–ET, and positive SM–T interactions over PGS. Relative to the influence of individual climate factors on SM, the compounding effect of climate factors strengthens SM–climate interactions. Simultaneously, variations of SM are dominated by precipitation from 50°N toward the south, by evapotranspiration from 50°N toward the north, and by temperature over the Sahara, western and central Asia, and the Tibetan Plateau. Importantly, the higher probability of concurrent SM wetness and climate extremes indicates the instant response of SM wetness to extreme climate. In contrast, the resistance of vegetation partially contributes to a consequent slower response of SM dryness to extreme climate. We highlight the significance of the compounding effects of climate factors in understanding SM–climate interaction in the context of strong vegetation activity, and the response of SM wetness and dryness to climate extremes.

Restricted access
Pengkun Yang
,
Ming Bao
,
Xuejuan Ren
, and
Xin Tan

Abstract

The anomalous stratospheric state favoring the occurrence of sudden stratospheric warmings (SSWs) is usually referred to as vortex preconditioning. This study investigates the role of vortex preconditioning in triggering strong and weak SSWs by using ERA5 reanalysis data. Strong and weak SSWs are distinguished by the amplitude of zonal wind deceleration of sudden stratospheric deceleration events. The robust stratospheric anomalies before strong SSWs last longer compared to weak SSWs, accompanied by stronger amplification of stratospheric wave activity near the warming. The stratospheric anomalies before weak SSWs have two significant enhancement stages, with two processes of stratospheric wave amplification. Robust stratospheric anomalies generally appear before tropospheric wave events (TWEs) followed by the strong and weak SSWs, which are absent before TWEs without SSWs. Stratospheric meridional potential vorticity gradient events (SPVEs) are defined to represent the anomalous stratospheric state during vortex preconditioning. The SPVEs can effectively modulate the stratospheric upward wave activity. No strong lower-tropospheric wave forcing is seen for the composites of both strong and weak SSWs preceded by SPVEs. These SSWs account for about 59% of the total SSWs. Furthermore, about 23% of strong SSWs and 36% of weak SSWs are only preceded by SPVEs without TWEs, indicating the major role of vortex preconditioning in triggering these SSWs. The SPVEs can be caused by wave breaking in the surfzone or the enhanced polar vortex, while the SPVEs preceded by clear wave breaking may be more favorable to the occurrence of SSWs.

Restricted access
Yawen Duan
,
Qing Yang
,
Zhuguo Ma
,
Peili Wu
,
Xiaolong Chen
, and
Jianping Duan

Abstract

The spatial distribution of summer rainfall anomalies over eastern China often shows a tripole pattern with rainfall anomalies over the Yangtze River basin varies in opposite phase with North China and South China. It is not clear whether this tripole pattern is an intrinsic atmospheric mode or it is remotely forced. Using two sets of model outputs from 20 models participating in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), this paper investigates the driving mechanisms of this leading rainfall mode and its major influencing factors. One set (piControl) is fully coupled atmosphere–ocean simulations under constant preindustrial forcing and the other (sstClim) is atmosphere-alone models forced by prescribed climatological sea surface temperatures (SSTs). By comparing results from these two different sets of simulations, it is found that the tripole pattern is the leading mode of summer precipitation variability over eastern China with or without oceanic forcing. It can be regarded as an intrinsic atmospheric mode although air–sea interaction can modify its temporal variability. The cyclonic–anticyclonic atmospheric circulation anomaly over the northern North Pacific is identified as a key factor in both experiments. As atmospheric internal variability, it is related to a circumglobal zonal wave train propagating along the westerly jet stream. When air–sea interactions involved, modulation from SST anomalies is exerted through the meridional Pacific–Japan/East Asia–Pacific wave train propagating along the East Asian coast. Our results suggest that the North Pacific could be another key region providing potential predictability to the East Asian monsoon in addition to the Indo-Pacific.

Open access
Baosheng Li
,
Lei Zhou
,
Tao Lian
,
Ting Liu
,
Jianhuang Qin
,
Yan Du
, and
Dake Chen

Abstract

The northward-propagating monsoon intraseasonal oscillation (MISO) is the most pronounced variability over the tropical Indian Ocean during the Indian summer monsoon (June–September). MISO is accompanied by significant air–sea interactions; however, the mechanism of the oceanic feedback to MISO is still a great scientific challenge. In this study, the role of the intraseasonal sea surface temperature (SST) gradient in MISO is diagnosed using reanalysis products and model sensitivity experiments. It is found that the positive meridional gradient of intraseasonal SST induces positive wind convergence in the planetary boundary layer (PBL) and leads convection by about 1–2 days. This accounts for approximately half of the total wind convergence in the PBL to the north of convection during MISO. The warm SST anomalies before convection accelerate the intraseasonal northerly wind in the PBL due to the enhanced downward transport of momentum from aloft. By contrast, the cold SST anomalies behind deep convection weaken the downward vertical momentum transport, thereby inducing a deceleration in the intraseasonal northerly. Consequently, changes in the speed of intraseasonal northerly along the meridional direction strengthen the PBL wind convergence ahead of deep convection. It finally results in the intensification of intraseasonal rainfall associated with MISO over the summer monsoon region. In addition, a strong (weak) SST meridional gradient at an intraseasonal time scale amplifies (lessens) the MISO intensity in the model simulation. Thus, this study highlights the role of SST meridional gradient in the feedback to MISO, which differs from the weak contribution of the warm SST itself to the wind convergence mentioned in previous studies. Collectively, these findings indicate that consideration of oceanic feedback is necessary to improve the understanding and simulation of MISO.

Open access
Michael J. Foster
,
Coda Phillips
,
Andrew K. Heidinger
,
Eva E. Borbas
,
Yue Li
,
W. Paul Menzel
,
Andi Walther
, and
Elisabeth Weisz

Abstract

A new version of the PATMOS-x multidecadal cloud record, version 6.0, has been produced and is available from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information. A description of the processes and methods used for generating the dataset are presented, with a focus on the differences between version 6.0 and the previous version of PATMOS-x, version 5.3. The new version appears both to be more stable, with less intersatellite variability, and to have more consistent polar cloud detection, phase distribution, and cloud-top height distribution when compared against the MODIS EOS record. Improvements in consistency and performance are attributed to the addition of multidimensional variables for cloud detection, constraining cloud retrievals to radiometric bands available throughout the record, and the addition of data from the HIRS instrument.

Significance Statement

The PATMOS-x project produces multidecadal cloudiness records from polar-orbiting satellites. Version 6.0 combines imager and sounder data from 15 satellites and shows significant improvements in accuracy and stability.

Restricted access
Bosong Zhang
,
Brian J. Soden
, and
Gabriel A. Vecchi

Abstract

A vertically resolved moist static energy (MSE) variance budget framework is used to diagnose processes associated with the development of tropical cyclones (TCs) in a general circulation model (GCM) under realistic boundary conditions. Previous studies have shown that interactions between radiation and MSE promote TC development. Here, we examine the vertical contributions of radiation and its interactions with MSE by performing several mechanism-denial experiments in which synoptic-scale radiative interactions are suppressed either in the boundary layer or in the free troposphere. Partly suppressing radiative interactions results in a reduction in global TC frequency. However, the magnitude of reduction and structure of the feedback depend on the intensity and structure of the TCs in these mechanism-denial experiments, indicating that both the magnitude and the vertical location of radiative interactions can impact global TC frequency. Using instantaneous 6-hourly outputs, an explicit computation reveals distinct spatial patterns of the advection term: the vertical component is positive in the mid- to upper troposphere, which reflects an upward transport of MSE by deep convection, whereas the horizontal component is positive in the boundary layer. These results illustrate the impact of the vertical distribution of radiative interactions and vertically varied contribution of the advection term in the development of TCs.

Restricted access
Bosong Zhang
,
Ming Zhao
, and
Zhihong Tan

Abstract

Global radiative feedbacks exhibit large dependence on the spatial structure of sea surface temperature (SST) changes, which is referred to as the “pattern effect.” A Green’s function (GF) approach has been demonstrated to be useful in identifying and understanding contributions of regional SST changes to global radiative feedbacks. Here, we explore the ability of the GF approach in quantifying the pattern effect in an atmospheric model (AM4) and a coupled model (CM4) recently developed at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), including the impact of SST changes on global-mean and local responses of key variables important to climate. Given historical SST patterns, the GF derived from idealized experiments with SST warming patches can largely reproduce AM4 simulated global-mean and regional responses. When AM4 is forced by SST patterns retrieved from the CM4 abrupt quadrupling of carbon dioxide experiment, the same GF captures interannual variations of AM4 simulated global-mean responses but falls short of reproducing the magnitude of the responses. A decomposition of such SST patterns into global-mean values plus remaining anomalies helps reduce biases. Additional idealized experiments are conducted to examine the sensitivity of the GF to the amplitude and sign of SST perturbations and to the integration time and the confidence level of the significance test. Impacts of these factors on the performance of the GF are discussed.

Restricted access
Lin Chen
,
Yuqing Li
,
Zi-An Ge
,
Bo Lu
,
Lu Wang
,
Xiaojun Wei
,
Ming Sun
,
Ziyue Wang
,
Tim Li
, and
Jing-Jia Luo

Abstract

Eastern China (EC) suffered an extreme drought with long-lasting duration and record-breaking intensity in late summer–autumn 2019. Our diagnosed results show that the central Pacific (CP) El Niño, in tandem with warm sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTAs) over the Kuroshio Extension (KE) region, induces the meridionally elongated cyclonic circulation anomalies stretching from the western North Pacific (WNP) to the Yellow Sea. Its western flank corresponds to overwhelming low-level northerly wind anomalies over EC, which result in deficient moisture and anomalous descent over EC and hence cause the extreme drought in 2019. To investigate the relative contributions of SSTAs over different regions, we performed sensitivity experiments, and analyzed the relationship between extreme drought like what occurred in 2019 (a 2019Drought-like event) and the SSTAs in CMIP6 historical simulations. Modeling evidences reveal that both warm SSTAs over the central equatorial Pacific and the KE region are indispensable for shaping the meridionally elongated cyclone anomaly. Specifically, the cyclone anomaly over the WNP induced by CP El Niño aligns with the cyclone anomaly over the Yellow Sea induced by the warm SSTAs over the KE region, merging into a meridionally stretched cyclone anomaly to the east of EC. Consequently, the northerly anomalies stretch across EC, leading to unfavorable atmospheric conditions and the rainfall deficit there. Projection results show that the occurrence probability of a 2019Drought-like event will increase by 20% (decrease by 40%–50%) under a high (medium-low) emission scenario compared to present-day climate, indicating the nonlinear response of extreme drought to different emission scenarios and the urgency of carbon emission reduction.

Significance Statement

An extreme drought hit the Eastern China (EC) region in 2019 and caused tremendous losses. This study proposed that both the 2019 CP El Niño and the warm SST anomalies over the Kuroshio Extension (KE) region induce the meridionally elongated circulation anomalies and the resultant extreme drought. We showed that the typical circulation anomalies induced by central Pacific (CP) El Niño cannot totally explain the meridionally elongated circulation anomalies in 2019. Our modeling evidences confirmed the indispensable role of warm SST anomalies over KE region in the 2019 extreme drought’s formation. The projection results show that extreme drought like that in 2019 will occur more (less) frequently under a high (medium-low) emission scenario compared to modern-day level, indicating the urgency of carbon emission reduction.

Restricted access