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Wayne H. Schubert
and
Gudrun Magnusdottir

Abstract

A potential pseudodensity principle is derived for the quasi-static primitive equations on the sphere. An important step in the derivation of this principle is the introduction of “vorticity coordinates”—that is, new coordinates whose Jacobian with respect to the original spherical coordinates is the dimensionless absolute isentropic vorticity. The vorticity coordinates are closely related to Clebsch variables and are the primitive equation generalizations of the geostrophic coordinates used in semigeostrophic theory. The vorticity coordinates can be used to transform the primitive equations into a canonical form. This form is mathematically similar to the geostrophic relation. There is flexibility in the choice of the potential function appearing in the canonical momentum equations. This flexibility can be used to force the vorticity coordinates to move with some desired velocity, which results in an associated simplification of the material derivative operator. The end result is analogous to the way ageostrophic motions become implicit when geostrophic coordinates are used in semigeostrophic theory.

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Gudrun Magnusdottir
and
Peter H. Haynes

Abstract

The authors consider quasi-stationary planetary waves that are excited by localized midlatitude orographic forcing in a three-dimensional primitive-equation model. The waves propagate toward subtropical regions where the background flow is weak and the waves are therefore likely to break. Potential vorticity fields on isentropic surfaces are used to diagnose wave breaking. Nonlinear pseudomomentum conservation relations are used to quantify the absorption–reflection behavior of the wave-breaking regions. Three different three-dimensional flow configurations are represented: (i) a barotropic flow, (ii) a simple baroclinic flow, and (iii) a more realistic baroclinic flow. In order to allow the propagation of large-scale waves to be studied over extended periods for the baroclinic flows, the authors apply a mechanical damping at low levels to delay the onset of baroclinic instability.

For basic states (i) and (ii) the forcing excites a localized wave train that propagates into the subtropics and, for large enough wave amplitude, gives rise to a reflected wave train propagating along a great circle route into midlatitudes. It is argued that the reflection is analogous to the nonlinear reflection predicted by Rossby wave critical layer theory. Both the directly forced wave train and the reflected wave train are quite barotropic in character and decay due to the damping. However, the low-level damping does not inhibit the reflection. The authors also consider the effect of thermal damping on the absorption–reflection behavior and find that, for realistic wave amplitudes, reflection is not inhibited by thermal damping with a timescale as low as 5 days.

For the third basic state it is found that the small-amplitude response has the character of a longitudinally propagating wave train that slowly decays with distance away from the forcing. The authors argue that part of this decay is due to low-latitude absorption and show that at larger amplitudes the decay is inhibited by nonlinear reflection.

The authors also compare for each basic state absorption–reflection behavior for isolated wave trains and for waves forced in a single longitudinal wavenumber.

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Ana C. T. Sena
and
Gudrun Magnusdottir

Abstract

The influence of each phase of the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) on the large-scale circulation in South America is investigated using rainfall observations, fully coupled, large-ensemble, historical simulations (LENS), and forced experiments using the coupled model’s atmospheric component. IOD events often occur when El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the largest source of interannual variability of precipitation in South America, is active. To distinguish from effects of ENSO, only cases during neutral ENSO conditions are analyzed in LENS and observations. During the positive IOD polarity, a perturbation in the local Walker circulation leads to increased convection over equatorial South America, resulting in wet anomalies in the Amazon basin. This signal is the opposite of what is expected during El Niño events. Tropical convection anomalies in the Indian Ocean also force an extratropical Rossby wave train that reaches subtropical South America. During positive IOD, the moisture flux from the Amazon to central and southeastern Brazil weakens, resulting in a drying of the area associated with the South Atlantic convergence zone. Meanwhile, the South Atlantic subtropical high strengthens, contributing to a drying in southeastern Brazil. During negative IOD, the induced wave train from the Indian Ocean leads to increased moisture transport to the La Plata basin, leading to wet anomalies in the region.

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Courtenay Strong
,
Gudrun Magnusdottir
, and
Hal Stern

Abstract

Feedback between the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and winter sea ice variability is detected and quantified using approximately 30 years of observations, a vector autoregressive model (VAR), and testable definitions of Granger causality and feedback. Sea ice variability is quantified based on the leading empirical orthogonal function of sea ice concentration over the North Atlantic [the Greenland Sea ice dipole (GSD)], which, in its positive polarity, has anomalously high sea ice concentrations in the Labrador Sea region to the southwest of Greenland and low sea ice concentrations in the Barents Sea region to the northeast of Greenland. In weekly data for December through April, the VAR indicates that NAO index (N) anomalies cause like-signed anomalies of the standardized GSD index (G), and that G anomalies in turn cause oppositely signed anomalies of N. This negative feedback process operates explicitly on lags of up to four weeks in the VAR but can generate more persistent effects because of the autocorrelation of G. Synthetic data are generated with the VAR to quantify the effects of feedback following realistic local maxima of N and G, and also for sustained high values of G. Feedback can change the expected value of evolving system variables by as much as a half a standard deviation, and the relevance of these results to intraseasonal and interannual NAO and sea ice variability is discussed.

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Ana Claudia Thome Sena
and
Gudrun Magnusdottir

Abstract

Projected changes in the South American monsoon system by the end of the twenty-first century are analyzed using the Community Earth System Model Large Ensemble (CESM-LENS). The wet season is shorter in LENS when compared to observations, with the mean onset occurring 19 days later and the mean retreat date 21 days earlier in the season. Despite a precipitation bias, the seasonality of rainfall over South America is reproduced in LENS, as well as the main circulation features associated with the development of the South American monsoon. Both the onset and retreat of the wet season over South America are delayed in the future compared to current climate by 3 and 7 days, respectively, with a slightly longer wet season. Central and southeastern Brazil are projected to get wetter as a result of moisture convergence from the strengthening of the South Atlantic low-level jet and a weaker South Atlantic subtropical high. The Amazon is projected to get drier by the end of the century, negatively affecting rain forest productivity. During the wet season, an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events is found over most of South America, and especially over northeastern and southern Brazil and La Plata. Meanwhile, during the dry season an increase in the maximum number of consecutive dry days is found over northeastern Brazil and the northern Amazon.

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Cameron Dong
,
Yannick Peings
, and
Gudrun Magnusdottir

Abstract

In this study, we analyze drivers of non–El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) precipitation variability in the Southwest United States (SWUS) and the influence of the atmospheric basic state, using atmosphere-only and ocean–atmosphere coupled simulations from the Community Earth System Model version 2 (CESM2) large ensemble. A cluster analysis identifies three main wave trains associated with non-ENSO SWUS precipitation in the experiments: a meridional ENSO-type wave train, an arching Pacific–North American-type (PNA) wave train, and a circumglobal zonal wave train. The zonal wave train cluster frequency differs between models and ENSO phase, with decreased frequency during El Niño and the coupled runs, and increased frequency during La Niña and the atmosphere-only runs. This is consistent with an El Niño–like bias of the atmospheric circulation in the coupled model, with strengthened subtropical westerlies in the central and eastern North Pacific that cause a retraction of the waveguide in the midlatitude eastern North Pacific. As such, zonal wave trains from the East Asian jet stream (EAJS) are more likely to be diverted southward in the east Pacific in the coupled large ensemble, with a consequently smaller role in driving SWUS precipitation variability. This study illustrates the need to reduce model biases in the background flow, particularly relating to the jet stream, in order to accurately capture the role of large-scale teleconnections in driving SWUS precipitation variability and improve future forecasting capabilities.

Open access
Zachary Labe
,
Gudrun Magnusdottir
, and
Hal Stern

Abstract

Because of limited high-quality satellite and in situ observations, less attention has been given to the trends in Arctic sea ice thickness and therefore sea ice volume than to the trends in sea ice extent. This study evaluates the spatial and temporal variability in Arctic sea ice thickness using the Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS). Additionally, the Community Earth System Model Large Ensemble Project (LENS) is used to quantify the forced response and internal variability in the model. A dipole spatial pattern of sea ice thickness variability is shown in both PIOMAS and LENS with opposite signs of polarity between the East Siberian Sea and near the Fram Strait. As future sea ice thins, this dipole structure of variability is reduced, and the largest interannual variability is found only along the northern Greenland coastline. Under a high-emissions scenario (RCP8.5) projection, average September sea ice thickness falls below 0.5 m by the end of the twenty-first century. However, a regional analysis shows internal variability contributes to an uncertainty of 10 to 20 years for the timing of the first September sea ice thickness less than 0.5 m in the marginal seas.

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Gudrun Magnusdottir
,
Clara Deser
, and
R. Saravanan

Abstract

Observed multidecadal trends in extratropical atmospheric flow, such as the positive trend in the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index, may be attributable to a number of causes. This study addresses the question of whether the atmospheric trends may be caused by observed trends in oceanic boundary forcing. Experiments were carried out using the NCAR atmospheric general circulation model with specified sea surface temperature (SST) and sea ice anomalies confined to the North Atlantic sector. The spatial pattern of the anomalous forcing was chosen to be realistic in that it corresponds to the recent 40-yr trend in SST and sea ice, but the anomaly amplitude was exaggerated in order to make the response statistically more robust. The wintertime response to both types of forcing resembles the NAO to first order. Even for an exaggerated amplitude, the atmospheric response to the SST anomaly is quite weak compared to the observed positive trend in the NAO, but has the same sign, indicative of a weak positive feedback. The anomalies in sea ice extent are more efficient than SST anomalies at exciting an atmospheric response comparable in amplitude to the observed NAO trend. However, this atmospheric response has the opposite sign to the observed trend, indicative of a significant negative feedback associated with the sea ice forcing. Additional experiments using SST anomalies with opposite sign to the observed trend indicate that there are significant nonlinearities associated with the atmospheric response.

The transient eddy response to the observed SST trend is consistent with the positive NAO response, with the North Atlantic storm track amplifying downstream and developing a more pronounced meridional tilt. In contrast, the storm track response to the observed sea ice trend corresponds to a weaker, southward-shifted, more zonal storm track, which is consistent with the negative NAO response.

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Yannick Peings
,
Zachary M. Labe
, and
Gudrun Magnusdottir

Abstract

This study presents results from the Polar Amplification Multimodel Intercomparison Project (PAMIP) single-year time-slice experiments that aim to isolate the atmospheric response to Arctic sea ice loss at global warming levels of +2°C. Using two general circulation models (GCMs), the ensemble size is increased up to 300 ensemble members, beyond the recommended 100 members. After partitioning the response in groups of 100 ensemble members, the reproducibility of the results is evaluated, with a focus on the response of the midlatitude jet streams in the North Atlantic and North Pacific. Both atmosphere-only and coupled ocean–atmosphere PAMIP experiments are analyzed. Substantial differences in the midlatitude response are found among the different experiment subsets, suggesting that 100-member ensembles are still significantly influenced by internal variability, which can mislead conclusions. Despite an overall stronger response, the coupled ocean–atmosphere runs exhibit greater spread due to additional ENSO-related internal variability when the ocean is interactive. The lack of consistency in the response is true for anomalies that are statistically significant according to Student’s t and false discovery rate tests. This is problematic for the multimodel assessment of the response, as some of the spread may be attributed to different model sensitivities whereas it is due to internal variability. We propose a method to overcome this consistency issue that allows for more robust conclusions when only 100 ensemble members are used.

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Graham R. Simpkins
,
Yannick Peings
, and
Gudrun Magnusdottir

Abstract

Several recent studies have connected Antarctic climate variability to tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures (SST), proposing a Rossby wave response from the Atlantic as the primary dynamical mechanism. In this investigation, reanalysis data and atmospheric general circulation model experiments are used to further diagnose these dynamical links. Focus is placed on the possible mediating role of Pacific processes, motivated by the similar spatial characteristics of Southern Hemisphere (SH) teleconnections associated with tropical Atlantic and Pacific SST variability. During austral winter (JJA), both reanalyses and model simulations reveal that Atlantic teleconnections represent a two-mechanism process, whereby increased tropical Atlantic SST promotes two conditions: 1) an intensification of the local Atlantic Hadley circulation (HC), driven by enhanced interaction between SST anomalies and the ITCZ, that increases convergence at the descending branch, establishing anomalous vorticity forcing from which a Rossby wave emanates, expressed as a pattern of alternating positive and negative geopotential height anomalies across the SH extratropics (the so-called HC-driven components); and 2) perturbations to the zonal Walker circulation (WC), driven primarily by an SST-induced amplification, that creates a pattern of anomalous upper-level convergence across the central/western Pacific, from which an ENSO-like Rossby wave train can be triggered (the so-called WC-driven components). While the former are found to dominate, the WC-driven components play a subsidiary yet important role. Indeed, it is the superposition of these two separate but interrelated mechanisms that gives the overall observed response. By demonstrating an additional Pacific-related component to Atlantic teleconnections, this study highlights the need to consider Atlantic–Pacific interactions when diagnosing tropical-related climate variability in the SH extratropics.

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