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  • Author or Editor: Kristopher B. Karnauskas x
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Kristopher B. Karnauskas
,
Jason E. Smerdon
,
Richard Seager
, and
Jesús Fidel González-Rouco

Abstract

Internal climate variability at the centennial time scale is investigated using long control integrations from three state-of-the-art global coupled general circulation models. In the absence of external forcing, all three models produce centennial variability in the mean zonal sea surface temperature (SST) and sea level pressure (SLP) gradients in the equatorial Pacific with counterparts in the extratropics. The centennial pattern in the tropical Pacific is dissimilar to that of the interannual El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), in that the most prominent expression in temperature is found beneath the surface of the western Pacific warm pool. Some global repercussions nevertheless are analogous, such as a hemispherically symmetric atmospheric wave pattern of alternating highs and lows. Centennial variability in western equatorial Pacific SST is a result of the strong asymmetry of interannual ocean heat content anomalies, while the eastern equatorial Pacific exhibits a lagged, Bjerknes-like response to temperature and convection in the west. The extratropical counterpart is shown to be a flux-driven response to the hemispherically symmetric circulation anomalies emanating from the tropical Pacific.

Significant centennial-length trends in the zonal SST and SLP gradients rivaling those estimated from observations and model simulations forced with increasing CO2 appear to be inherent features of the internal climate dynamics simulated by all three models. Unforced variability and trends on the centennial time scale therefore need to be addressed in estimated uncertainties, beyond more traditional signal-to-noise estimates that do not account for natural variability on the centennial time scale.

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Laifang Li
,
Raymond W. Schmitt
,
Caroline C. Ummenhofer
, and
Kristopher B. Karnauskas

Abstract

Moisture originating from the subtropical North Atlantic feeds precipitation throughout the Western Hemisphere. This ocean-to-land moisture transport leaves its imprint on sea surface salinity (SSS), enabling SSS over the subtropical oceans to be used as an indicator of terrestrial precipitation. This study demonstrates that springtime SSS over the northwestern portion of the subtropical North Atlantic significantly correlates with summertime precipitation over the U.S. Midwest. The linkage between springtime SSS and the Midwest summer precipitation is established through ocean-to-land moisture transport followed by a soil moisture feedback over the southern United States. In the spring, high SSS over the northwestern subtropical Atlantic coincides with a local increase in moisture flux divergence. The moisture flux is then directed toward and converges over the southern United States, which experiences increased precipitation and soil moisture. The increased soil moisture influences the regional water cycle both thermodynamically and dynamically, leading to excessive summer precipitation in the Midwest. Thermodynamically, the increased soil moisture tends to moisten the lower troposphere and enhances the meridional humidity gradient north of 36°N. Thus, more moisture will be transported and converged into the Midwest by the climatological low-level wind. Dynamically, the increases in soil moisture over the southern United States enhance the west–east soil moisture gradient eastward of the Rocky Mountains, which can help to intensify the Great Plains low-level jet in the summer, converging more moisture into the Midwest. Owing to these robust physical linkages, the springtime SSS outweighs the leading SST modes in predicting the Midwest summer precipitation and significantly improves rainfall prediction in this region.

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Daniel L. Rudnick
,
W. Brechner Owens
,
T. M. Shaun Johnston
,
Kristopher B. Karnauskas
,
Julie Jakoboski
, and
Robert E. Todd

Abstract

The strong El Niño of 2014–16 was observed west of the Galápagos Islands through sustained deployment of underwater gliders. Three years of observations began in October 2013 and ended in October 2016, with observations at longitudes 93° and 95°W between latitudes 2°N and 2°S. In total, there were over 3000 glider-days of data, covering over 50 000 km with over 12 000 profiles. Coverage was superior closer to the Galápagos on 93°W, where gliders were equipped with sensors to measure velocity as well as temperature, salinity, and pressure. The repeated glider transects are analyzed to produce highly resolved mean sections and maps of observed variables as functions of time, latitude, and depth. The mean sections reveal the structure of the Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC), the South Equatorial Current, and the equatorial front. The mean fields are used to calculate potential vorticity Q and Richardson number Ri. Gradients in the mean are strong enough to make the sign of Q opposite to that of planetary vorticity and to have Ri near unity, suggestive of mixing. Temporal variability is dominated by the 2014–16 El Niño, with the arrival of depressed isopycnals documented in 2014 and 2015. Increases in eastward velocity advect anomalously salty water and are uncorrelated with warm temperatures and deep isopycnals. Thus, vertical advection is important to changes in heat, and horizontal advection is relevant to changes in salt. Implications of this work include possibilities for future research, model assessment and improvement, and sustained observations across the equatorial Pacific.

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Dillon J. Amaya
,
Michael A. Alexander
,
Antonietta Capotondi
,
Clara Deser
,
Kristopher B. Karnauskas
,
Arthur J. Miller
, and
Nathan J. Mantua
Open access
Alison S. Criscitiello
,
Sarah B. Das
,
Kristopher B. Karnauskas
,
Matthew J. Evans
,
Karen E. Frey
,
Ian Joughin
,
Eric J. Steig
,
Joseph R. McConnell
, and
Brooke Medley

Abstract

The climate of West Antarctica is strongly influenced by remote forcing from the tropical Pacific. For example, recent surface warming over West Antarctica reflects atmospheric circulation changes over the Amundsen Sea, driven by an atmospheric Rossby wave response to tropical sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies. Here, it is demonstrated that tropical Pacific SST anomalies also influence the source and transport of marine-derived aerosols to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Using records from four firn cores collected along the Amundsen coast of West Antarctica, the relationship between sea ice–modulated chemical species and large-scale atmospheric variability in the tropical Pacific from 1979 to 2010 is investigated. Significant correlations are found between marine biogenic aerosols and sea salts, and SST and sea level pressure in the tropical Pacific. In particular, La Niña–like conditions generate an atmospheric Rossby wave response that influences atmospheric circulation over Pine Island Bay. Seasonal regression of atmospheric fields on methanesulfonic acid (MSA) reveals a reduction in onshore wind velocities in summer at Pine Island Bay, consistent with enhanced katabatic flow, polynya opening, and coastal dimethyl sulfide production. Seasonal regression of atmospheric fields on chloride (Cl) reveals an intensification in onshore wind velocities in winter, consistent with sea salt transport from offshore source regions. Both the source and transport of marine aerosols to West Antarctica are found to be modulated by similar atmospheric dynamics in response to remote forcing. Finally, the regional ice-core array suggests that there is both a temporally and a spatially varying response to remote tropical forcing.

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Kevin M. Grise
,
Sean M. Davis
,
Isla R. Simpson
,
Darryn W. Waugh
,
Qiang Fu
,
Robert J. Allen
,
Karen H. Rosenlof
,
Caroline C. Ummenhofer
,
Kristopher B. Karnauskas
,
Amanda C. Maycock
,
Xiao-Wei Quan
,
Thomas Birner
, and
Paul W. Staten

Abstract

Previous studies have documented a poleward shift in the subsiding branches of Earth’s Hadley circulation since 1979 but have disagreed on the causes of these observed changes and the ability of global climate models to capture them. This synthesis paper reexamines a number of contradictory claims in the past literature and finds that the tropical expansion indicated by modern reanalyses is within the bounds of models’ historical simulations for the period 1979–2005. Earlier conclusions that models were underestimating the observed trends relied on defining the Hadley circulation using the mass streamfunction from older reanalyses. The recent observed tropical expansion has similar magnitudes in the annual mean in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) and Southern Hemisphere (SH), but models suggest that the factors driving the expansion differ between the hemispheres. In the SH, increasing greenhouse gases (GHGs) and stratospheric ozone depletion contributed to tropical expansion over the late twentieth century, and if GHGs continue increasing, the SH tropical edge is projected to shift further poleward over the twenty-first century, even as stratospheric ozone concentrations recover. In the NH, the contribution of GHGs to tropical expansion is much smaller and will remain difficult to detect in a background of large natural variability, even by the end of the twenty-first century. To explain similar recent tropical expansion rates in the two hemispheres, natural variability must be taken into account. Recent coupled atmosphere–ocean variability, including the Pacific decadal oscillation, has contributed to tropical expansion. However, in models forced with observed sea surface temperatures, tropical expansion rates still vary widely because of internal atmospheric variability.

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Paul W. Staten
,
Kevin M. Grise
,
Sean M. Davis
,
Kristopher B. Karnauskas
,
Darryn W. Waugh
,
Amanda C. Maycock
,
Qiang Fu
,
Kerry Cook
,
Ori Adam
,
Isla R. Simpson
,
Robert J Allen
,
Karen Rosenlof
,
Gang Chen
,
Caroline C. Ummenhofer
,
Xiao-Wei Quan
,
James P. Kossin
,
Nicholas A. Davis
, and
Seok-Woo Son
Full access
Justin Sheffield
,
Suzana J. Camargo
,
Rong Fu
,
Qi Hu
,
Xianan Jiang
,
Nathaniel Johnson
,
Kristopher B. Karnauskas
,
Seon Tae Kim
,
Jim Kinter
,
Sanjiv Kumar
,
Baird Langenbrunner
,
Eric Maloney
,
Annarita Mariotti
,
Joyce E. Meyerson
,
J. David Neelin
,
Sumant Nigam
,
Zaitao Pan
,
Alfredo Ruiz-Barradas
,
Richard Seager
,
Yolande L. Serra
,
De-Zheng Sun
,
Chunzai Wang
,
Shang-Ping Xie
,
Jin-Yi Yu
,
Tao Zhang
, and
Ming Zhao

Abstract

This is the second part of a three-part paper on North American climate in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) that evaluates the twentieth-century simulations of intraseasonal to multidecadal variability and teleconnections with North American climate. Overall, the multimodel ensemble does reasonably well at reproducing observed variability in several aspects, but it does less well at capturing observed teleconnections, with implications for future projections examined in part three of this paper. In terms of intraseasonal variability, almost half of the models examined can reproduce observed variability in the eastern Pacific and most models capture the midsummer drought over Central America. The multimodel mean replicates the density of traveling tropical synoptic-scale disturbances but with large spread among the models. On the other hand, the coarse resolution of the models means that tropical cyclone frequencies are underpredicted in the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific. The frequency and mean amplitude of ENSO are generally well reproduced, although teleconnections with North American climate are widely varying among models and only a few models can reproduce the east and central Pacific types of ENSO and connections with U.S. winter temperatures. The models capture the spatial pattern of Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) variability and its influence on continental temperature and West Coast precipitation but less well for the wintertime precipitation. The spatial representation of the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) is reasonable, but the magnitude of SST anomalies and teleconnections are poorly reproduced. Multidecadal trends such as the warming hole over the central–southeastern United States and precipitation increases are not replicated by the models, suggesting that observed changes are linked to natural variability.

Full access
Paul W. Staten
,
Kevin M. Grise
,
Sean M. Davis
,
Kristopher B. Karnauskas
,
Darryn W. Waugh
,
Amanda C. Maycock
,
Qiang Fu
,
Kerry Cook
,
Ori Adam
,
Isla R. Simpson
,
Robert J Allen
,
Karen Rosenlof
,
Gang Chen
,
Caroline C. Ummenhofer
,
Xiao-Wei Quan
,
James P. Kossin
,
Nicholas A. Davis
, and
Seok-Woo Son

Abstract

Over the past 15 years, numerous studies have suggested that the sinking branches of Earth’s Hadley circulation and the associated subtropical dry zones have shifted poleward over the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century. Early estimates of this tropical widening from satellite observations and reanalyses varied from 0.25° to 3° latitude per decade, while estimates from global climate models show widening at the lower end of the observed range. In 2016, two working groups, the U.S. Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) working group on the Changing Width of the Tropical Belt and the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) Tropical Width Diagnostics Intercomparison Project, were formed to synthesize current understanding of the magnitude, causes, and impacts of the recent tropical widening evident in observations. These working groups concluded that the large rates of observed tropical widening noted by earlier studies resulted from their use of metrics that poorly capture changes in the Hadley circulation, or from the use of reanalyses that contained spurious trends. Accounting for these issues reduces the range of observed expansion rates to 0.25°–0.5° latitude decade‒1—within the range from model simulations. Models indicate that most of the recent Northern Hemisphere tropical widening is consistent with natural variability, whereas increasing greenhouse gases and decreasing stratospheric ozone likely played an important role in Southern Hemisphere widening. Whatever the cause or rate of expansion, understanding the regional impacts of tropical widening requires additional work, as different forcings can produce different regional patterns of widening.

Free access
Eric D. Maloney
,
Suzana J. Camargo
,
Edmund Chang
,
Brian Colle
,
Rong Fu
,
Kerrie L. Geil
,
Qi Hu
,
Xianan Jiang
,
Nathaniel Johnson
,
Kristopher B. Karnauskas
,
James Kinter
,
Benjamin Kirtman
,
Sanjiv Kumar
,
Baird Langenbrunner
,
Kelly Lombardo
,
Lindsey N. Long
,
Annarita Mariotti
,
Joyce E. Meyerson
,
Kingtse C. Mo
,
J. David Neelin
,
Zaitao Pan
,
Richard Seager
,
Yolande Serra
,
Anji Seth
,
Justin Sheffield
,
Julienne Stroeve
,
Jeanne Thibeault
,
Shang-Ping Xie
,
Chunzai Wang
,
Bruce Wyman
, and
Ming Zhao

Abstract

In part III of a three-part study on North American climate in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) models, the authors examine projections of twenty-first-century climate in the representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) emission experiments. This paper summarizes and synthesizes results from several coordinated studies by the authors. Aspects of North American climate change that are examined include changes in continental-scale temperature and the hydrologic cycle, extremes events, and storm tracks, as well as regional manifestations of these climate variables. The authors also examine changes in the eastern North Pacific and North Atlantic tropical cyclone activity and North American intraseasonal to decadal variability, including changes in teleconnections to other regions of the globe. Projected changes are generally consistent with those previously published for CMIP3, although CMIP5 model projections differ importantly from those of CMIP3 in some aspects, including CMIP5 model agreement on increased central California precipitation. The paper also highlights uncertainties and limitations based on current results as priorities for further research. Although many projected changes in North American climate are consistent across CMIP5 models, substantial intermodel disagreement exists in other aspects. Areas of disagreement include projections of changes in snow water equivalent on a regional basis, summer Arctic sea ice extent, the magnitude and sign of regional precipitation changes, extreme heat events across the northern United States, and Atlantic and east Pacific tropical cyclone activity.

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