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Hui Li, Alexey Fedorov, and Wei Liu

Abstract

This study compares the impacts of Arctic sea ice decline on the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) in two configurations of the Community Earth System Model with different horizontal resolution. In a suite of model experiments, we impose radiative imbalance at the ice surface, replicating a loss of sea ice cover comparable to that observed during 1979–2014, and we find dramatic differences in the AMOC response between the two models. In the lower-resolution configuration, the AMOC weakens by about one-third over the first 100 years, approaching a new quasi-equilibrium. By contrast, in the higher-resolution configuration, the AMOC weakens by ~10% during the first 20–30 years followed by a full recovery driven by invigorated deep water formation in the Labrador Sea and adjacent regions. We investigate these differences using a diagnostic AMOC stability indicator, which reflects the AMOC freshwater transport in and out of the basin and hence the strength of the basin-scale salt-advection feedback. This indicator suggests that the AMOC in the lower-resolution model is less stable and more sensitive to surface perturbations, as confirmed by hosing experiments mimicking Arctic freshening due to sea ice decline. Differences between the models’ mean states, including the Atlantic Ocean mean surface freshwater fluxes, control the differences in AMOC stability. Our results demonstrate that the AMOC stability indicator is indeed useful for evaluating AMOC sensitivity to perturbations. We emphasize that, despite the differences in the long-term adjustment, both models simulate a multidecadal AMOC weakening caused by Arctic sea ice decline, relevant to climate change.

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Aoyun Xue, Wenjun Zhang, Julien Boucharel, and Fei-Fei Jin

Abstract

Although the 1997/98 and 2015/16 El Niño events are considered to be the strongest on record, their subsequent La Niña events exhibited contrasted evolutions. In this study, we demonstrate that the extremely strong period of tropical instability waves (TIWs) at the beginning of boreal summer of 2016 played an important role in hindering the subsequent La Niña’s development by transporting extra off-equatorial heat into the Pacific cold tongue. By comparing the TIWs’ contribution based on an oceanic mixed layer heat budget analysis for the 1998 and 2016 episodes, we establish that TIW-induced nonlinear dynamical heating (NDH) is a significant contributor to the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phase transition in 2016. TIW-induced NDH contributed to around 0.4°C warming per month during the early boreal summer (May–June) following the 2015/16 El Niño’s peak, which is found to be an essential inhibiting factor that prevented the subsequent La Niña’s growth. A time-mean eddy kinetic energy analysis reveals that anomalous TIWs during 2016 mainly gained their energy from the baroclinic instability conversion due to a strong SST warming in the northeastern off-equatorial Pacific that promoted an increased meridional SST gradient. This highlights the importance of accurately reproducing TIW activity in ENSO simulation and the benefit of off-equatorial SST anomalies in the eastern Pacific as an independent precursor for ENSO predictions.

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Philippe Goulet Coulombe and Maximilian Göbel

Abstract

On 15 September 2020, Arctic sea ice extent (SIE) ranked second-to-lowest in history and keeps trending downward. The understanding of how feedback loops amplify the effects of external CO2 forcing is still limited. We propose the VARCTIC model, which is a vector autoregression (VAR) designed to capture and extrapolate Arctic feedback loops. VARs are dynamic simultaneous systems of equations, routinely estimated to predict and understand the interactions of multiple macroeconomic time series. The VARCTIC is a parsimonious compromise between full-blown climate models and purely statistical approaches that usually offer little explanation of the underlying mechanism. Our completely unconditional forecast has SIE hitting 0 in September by the 2060s. Impulse response functions reveal that anthropogenic CO2 emission shocks have an unusually durable effect on SIE—a property shared by no other shock. We find albedo- and thickness-based feedbacks to be the main amplification channels through which CO2 anomalies impact SIE in the short and medium runs. Furthermore, conditional forecast analyses reveal that the future path of SIE crucially depends on the evolution of CO2 emissions, with outcomes ranging from recovering SIE to it reaching 0 in the 2050s. Finally, albedo and thickness feedbacks are shown to play an important role in accelerating the speed at which predicted SIE is heading toward 0.

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Amélie Desmarais and L. Bruno Tremblay

Abstract

Uncertainties in the timing of a seasonal ice cover in the Arctic Ocean depend on model physics and parameterizations, natural variability at decadal time scales, and uncertainties in climate scenarios and forcings. We use the Gridded Monthly Sea Ice Extent and Concentration, 1850 Onward data product to assess the simulated decadal variability from the Community Earth System Model–Large Ensemble (CESM-LE) in the Pacific, Eurasian, and Atlantic sectors of the Arctic where a longer observational record exists. Results show that sea ice decadal (8–16 years) variability in CESM-LE is in agreement with the observational record in the Pacific sector of the Arctic, underestimated in the Eurasian sector of the Arctic, specifically in the East Siberian Sea, and slightly overestimated in the Atlantic sector of the Arctic, specifically in the Greenland Sea. Results also show an increase in variability at decadal time scales in the Eurasian and Pacific sectors during the transition to a seasonally ice-free Arctic, in agreement with the observational record although this increase is delayed by 10–20 years. If the current sea ice retreat in the Arctic continues to be Pacific-centric, results from the CESM-LE suggest that uncertainty in the timing of an ice-free Arctic associated with natural variability is realistic, but that a seasonal ice cover may occur earlier than projected.

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Yann Y. Planton, Jérôme Vialard, Eric Guilyardi, Mathieu Lengaigne, and Michael J. McPhaden

Abstract

Unusually high western Pacific Ocean oceanic heat content often leads to El Niño about 1 year later, while unusually low heat content leads to La Niña. Here, we investigate if El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) predictability also depends on the initial state recharge, and we discuss the underlying mechanisms. To that end, we use the CNRM-CM5 model, which has a reasonable representation of the main observed ENSO characteristics, asymmetries, and feedbacks. Observations and a 1007-yr-long CNRM-CM5 simulation indicate that discharged states evolve more systematically into La Niña events than recharged states into neutral states or El Niño events. We ran 70-member ensemble experiments in a perfect-model setting, initialized in boreal autumn from either recharged or discharged western Pacific heat content, sampling the full range of corresponding ENSO phases. Predictability measures based both on spread and signal-to-noise ratio confirm that discharged states yield a more predictable ENSO outcome one year later than recharged states. As expected from recharge oscillator theory, recharged states evolve into positive central Pacific sea surface temperature anomalies in boreal spring, inducing stronger and more variable westerly wind event activity and a fast growth of the ensemble spread during summer and autumn. This also enhances the positive wind stress feedback in autumn, but the effect is offset by changes in thermocline and heat flux feedbacks. The state-dependent component of westerly wind events is thus the most likely cause for the predictability asymmetry in CNRM-CM5, although changes in the low-frequency wind stress feedback may also contribute.

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Xiangbai Wu, Gen Li, Wenping Jiang, Shang-Min Long, and Bo Lu

Abstract

During the summer following El Niño, a basinwide sea surface temperature (SST) warming takes place over the tropical Indian Ocean (TIO), exerting profound influences on the Asian summer monsoon. This is an important source of seasonal predictability for the Asian summer monsoon. Based on observations, however, the present study finds that the relationship between El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the TIO SST anomalies during the decaying summer is asymmetric with a much weaker relationship between La Niña and the TIO SST anomalies relative to El Niño. The analyses show that this asymmetric relationship can be explained by the asymmetries in initial TIO SST, the oceanic Rossby wave in the southern Indian Ocean, and the ENSO decaying rate. In contrast to El Niño events, La Niña events tend to have a stronger initial TIO warming and a lower peak intensity with a weaker oceanic Rossby wave response in the southern Indian Ocean. On the other hand, La Niña events tend to decay more slowly with the persistent SST cooling over the central equatorial Pacific in the following summer. The equatorial Pacific SST cooling induces an anomalous anticyclone via a Gill-type Rossby wave response, weakening the positive feedback between the anomalous cyclone spanning the tropical northwest Pacific and north Indian Oceans and the TIO summer basinwide SST cooling. These results have important implications for the climate predictability of the Indian Ocean and Asian summer monsoon.

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Xiaohe An, Bo Wu, Tianjun Zhou, and Bo Liu

Abstract

The interdecadal Pacific oscillation (IPO) and Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO), two leading modes of decadal climate variability, are not independent. It was proposed that ENSO-like sea surface temperature (SST) variations play a central role in the Pacific responses to the AMO forcing. However, observational analyses indicate that the AMO-related SST anomalies in the tropical Pacific are far weaker than those in the extratropical North Pacific. Here, we show that SST in the North Pacific is tied to the AMO forcing by convective heating associated with precipitation over the tropical Pacific, instead of by SST there, based on an ensemble of pacemaker experiments with North Atlantic SST restored to the observation in a coupled general circulation model. The AMO modulates precipitation over the equatorial and tropical southwestern Pacific through exciting an anomalous zonal circulation and an interhemispheric asymmetry of net moist static energy input into the atmosphere. The convective heating associated with the precipitation anomalies drives SST variations in the North Pacific through a teleconnection, but it remarkably weakens the ENSO-like SST anomalies through a thermocline damping effect. This study has implications that the IPO is a combined mode generated by both AMO forcing and local air–sea interactions, but the IPO-related global warming acceleration/slowdown is independent of the AMO.

Open access
Richard Seager, Naomi Henderson, Mark Cane, Honghai Zhang, and Jennifer Nakamura

Abstract

Persistent multiyear cold states of the tropical Pacific Ocean drive hydroclimate anomalies worldwide, including persistent droughts in the extratropical Americas. Here, the atmosphere and ocean dynamics and thermodynamics of multiyear cold states of the tropical Pacific Ocean are investigated using European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts reanalyses and simplified models of the ocean and atmosphere. The cold states are maintained by anomalous ocean heat flux divergence and damped by increased surface heat flux from the atmosphere to ocean. The anomalous ocean heat flux divergence is contributed to by both changes in the ocean circulation and thermal structure. The keys are an anomalously shallow thermocline that enhances cooling by upwelling and anomalous westward equatorial currents that enhance cold advection. The thermocline depth anomalies are shown to be a response to equatorial wind stress anomalies. The wind stress anomalies are shown to be a simple dynamical response to equatorial SST anomalies as mediated by precipitation anomalies. The cold states are fundamentally maintained by atmosphere–ocean coupling in the equatorial Pacific. The physical processes that maintain the cold states are well approximated by linear dynamics for ocean and atmosphere and simple thermodynamics.

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Jingqiu Yang, Haishan Chen, Yidi Song, Siguang Zhu, Botao Zhou, and Jie Zhang

Abstract

The Eurasian continent experienced significant warming during the past decades. West Asia is located in an arid/semiarid zone, and its warming amplification has drawn considerable attention. However, the climatic effect of such a warming is not clear yet. In this study, we explored the possible impacts of recent land surface warming over West Asia on the atmospheric general circulation and climate. Results show that abnormal spring land surface warming over West Asia tends to increase precipitation over North China and decrease (increase) precipitation (air temperature) over Northeast China in early summer (June). It is noted that the precipitation anomalies are much stronger over the eastern region of North/Northeast China. Further analysis suggests that abnormal spring land surface warming can trigger eastward-propagating disturbances via diabatic heating, which intensifies the atmospheric circumglobal teleconnection (CGT) pattern, causing anomalous circulation and climate in early summer over northern China. Sensitivity experiments demonstrate that abnormal spring land surface warming can increase the atmospheric baroclinic instability and trigger Rossby waves that propagate along the westerly jet stream (WJS), resulting in the formation of CGT. Due to persistent land surface thermal forcing and the interaction between the basic flow (especially the WJS) and CGT, the CGT tends to be intensified. The anomalous wave center over East Asia in early summer is responsible for the precipitation increases (decreases) over North (Northeast) China and the evident warming in Northeast China. Our results suggest that the spring land surface thermal anomalies over West Asia can be a potential signal for short-term prediction of early summer climate over northern China.

Open access
Terence J. O’Kane, Paul A. Sandery, Vassili Kitsios, Pavel Sakov, Matthew A. Chamberlain, Mark A. Collier, Russell Fiedler, Thomas S. Moore, Christopher C. Chapman, Bernadette M. Sloyan, and Richard J. Matear

Abstract

We detail the system design, model configuration, and data assimilation evaluation for the CSIRO Climate retrospective Analysis and Forecast Ensemble system, version 1 (CAFE60v1). CAFE60v1 has been designed with the intention of simultaneously generating both initial conditions for multiyear climate forecasts and a large ensemble retrospective analysis of the global climate system from 1960 to the present. Strongly coupled data assimilation (SCDA) is implemented via an ensemble transform Kalman filter in order to constrain a general circulation climate model to observations. Satellite (altimetry, sea surface temperature, sea ice concentration) and in situ ocean temperature and salinity profiles are directly assimilated each month, whereas atmospheric observations are subsampled from the JRA-55 atmospheric reanalysis. Strong coupling is implemented via explicit cross-domain covariances between ocean, atmosphere, sea ice, and ocean biogeochemistry. Atmospheric and surface ocean fields are available at daily resolution and monthly resolution for the land, subsurface ocean, and sea ice. The system produces 96 climate trajectories (state estimates) over the most recent six decades as well as a complete data archive of initial conditions, potentially enabling individual forecasts for all members each month over the 60-yr period. The size of the ensemble and application of strongly coupled data assimilation lead to new insights for future reanalyses.

Open access