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William J. Gutowski Jr., David S. Gutzler, and Wei-Chyung Wang

Abstract

We examine surface energy balances simulated by three general circulation models for current climatic boundary conditions and for an atmosphere with twice current levels of CO2. Differences between model simulations provide a measure of uncertainty in the prediction of surface temperature in a double-CO2 climate, and diagnosis of the energy balance suggests the radiative and thermodynamic processes responsible for these differences. The scale dependence of the surface energy balance is examined by averaging over a hierarchy of spatial domains ranging from the entire globe to regions encompassing just a few model grid points.

Upward and downward longwave fluxes are the dominant terms in the global-average balance for each model and climate. The models product nearly the same global-average surface temperature in their current climate simulations, so their upward longwave fluxes are nearly the same, but in the global-average balance their downward longwave fluxes, absorbed solar radiation, and sensible and latent heat fluxes have intermodel discrepancies that are larger than respective flux changes associated with doubling CO2. Despite the flux discrepancies, the globally averaged surface flux changes associated with CO2 doubling are qualitatively consistent among the models, suggesting that the basic large-scale mechanisms of greenhouse warming are not very sensitive to the precise surface balance of heat occurring in a model's current climate simulation.

The net longwave flux at the surface has small spatial variability, so global-average discrepancies in surface longwave fluxes are also manifested in the regional-scale balances. For this reason, increasing horizontal resolution will not improve the consistency of regional-scale climate simulations in these models unless discrepancies in global-average longwave radiation are resolved. Differences between models in simulating effects of moisture in the atmosphere and in the ground appear to be an important cause of differences in surface energy budgets on all scales.

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Yaru Guo, Yuanlong Li, Fan Wang, Yuntao Wei, and Zengrui Rong

Abstract

A high-resolution (3–8 km) regional oceanic general circulation model is utilized to understand the sea surface temperature (SST) variability of Ningaloo Niño in the southeast Indian Ocean (SEIO). The model reproduces eight Ningaloo Niño events with good fidelity and reveals complicated spatial structures. Mesoscale noises are seen in the warming signature and confirmed by satellite microwave SST data. Model experiments are carried out to quantitatively evaluate the effects of key processes. The results reveal that the surface turbulent heat flux (primarily latent heat flux) is the most important process (contribution > 68%) in driving and damping the SST warming for most events, while the roles of the Indonesian Throughflow (~15%) and local wind forcing are secondary. A suitable air temperature warming is essential to reproducing the reduced surface latent heat loss during the growth of SST warming (~66%), whereas the effect of the increased air humidity is negligibly small (1%). The established SST warming in the mature phase causes increased latent heat loss that initiates the decay of warming. A 20-member ensemble simulation is performed for the 2010/11 super Ningaloo Niño, which confirms the strong influence of ocean internal processes in the redistribution of SST warming signatures. Oceanic eddies can dramatically modulate the magnitudes of local SST warming, particularly in offshore areas where the “signal-to-noise” ratio is low, raising a caution for evaluating the predictability of Ningaloo Niño and its environmental consequences.

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Youbing Peng, Caiming Shen, Wei-Chyung Wang, and Ying Xu

Abstract

Studies of the effects of large volcanic eruptions on regional climate so far have focused mostly on temperature responses. Previous studies using proxy data suggested that coherent droughts over eastern China are associated with explosive low-latitude volcanic eruptions. Here, the authors present an investigation of the responses of summer precipitation over eastern China to large volcanic eruptions through analyzing a 1000-yr global climate model simulation driven by natural and anthropogenic forcing. Superposed epoch analyses of 18 cases of large volcanic eruption indicate that summer precipitation over eastern China significantly decreases in the eruption year and the year after. Model simulation suggests that this reduction of summer precipitation over eastern China can be attributed to a weakening of summer monsoon and a decrease of moisture vapor over tropical oceans caused by large volcanic eruptions.

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Changlin Chen, Guihua Wang, Shang-Ping Xie, and Wei Liu

ABSTRACT

The Kuroshio and Gulf Stream, the subtropical western boundary currents of the North Pacific and North Atlantic, play important roles in meridional heat transport and ocean–atmosphere interaction processes. Using a multimodel ensemble of future projections, we show that a warmer climate intensifies the upper-layer Kuroshio, in contrast to the previously documented slowdown of the Gulf Stream. Our ocean general circulation model experiments show that the sea surface warming, not the wind change, is the dominant forcing that causes the upper-layer Kuroshio to intensify in a warming climate. Forced by the sea surface warming, ocean subduction and advection processes result in a stronger warming to the east of the Kuroshio than to the west, which increases the isopycnal slope across the Kuroshio, and hence intensifies the Kuroshio. In the North Atlantic, the Gulf Stream slows down as part of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) response to surface salinity decrease in the high latitudes under global warming. The distinct responses of the Gulf Stream and Kuroshio to climate warming are accompanied by different regional patterns of sea level rise. While the sea level rise accelerates along the northeastern U.S. coast as the AMOC weakens, it remains close to the global mean rate along the East Asian coast as the intensifying Kuroshio is associated with the enhanced sea level rise offshore in the North Pacific subtropical gyre.

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Wei Mei, Shang-Ping Xie, Ming Zhao, and Yuqing Wang

Abstract

Forced interannual-to-decadal variability of annual tropical cyclone (TC) track density in the western North Pacific between 1979 and 2008 is studied using TC tracks from observations and simulations by a 25-km-resolution version of the GFDL High-Resolution Atmospheric Model (HiRAM) that is forced by observed sea surface temperatures (SSTs). Two modes dominate the decadal variability: a nearly basinwide mode, and a dipole mode between the subtropics and lower latitudes. The former mode links to variations in TC number and is forced by SST variations over the off-equatorial tropical central North Pacific, whereas the latter might be associated with the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation. The interannual variability is also controlled by two modes: a basinwide mode driven by SST anomalies of opposite signs located in the tropical central Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean, and a southeast–northwest dipole mode connected to the conventional eastern Pacific ENSO. The seasonal evolution of the ENSO effect on TC activity is further explored via a joint empirical orthogonal function analysis using TC track density of consecutive seasons, and the analysis reveals that two types of ENSO are at work. Internal variability in TC track density is then examined using ensemble simulations from both HiRAM and a regional atmospheric model. It exhibits prominent spatial and seasonal patterns, and it is particularly strong in the South China Sea and along the coast of East Asia. This makes an accurate prediction and projection of TC landfall extremely challenging in these regions. In contrast, basin-integrated metrics (e.g., total TC counts and TC days) are more predictable.

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Jiandong Li, Wei-Chyung Wang, Jiangyu Mao, Ziqian Wang, Gang Zeng, and Guoxing Chen

Abstract

Clouds strongly modulate regional radiation balance and their evolution is profoundly influenced by circulations. This study uses 2001–16 satellite and reanalysis data together with regional model simulations to investigate the spring shortwave cloud radiative effect (SWCRE) and the associated circulations over southeastern China (SEC). Strong SWCRE, up to −110 W m−2, persists throughout springtime in this region and its spring mean is the largest among the same latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. SWCRE exhibits pronounced subseasonal variation and is closely associated with persistent regional ascending motion and moisture convergence, which favor large amounts of cloud liquid water and resultant strong SWCRE. Around pentad 12 (late February), SWCRE abruptly increases and afterward remains stable between 22° and 32°N. The thermal and dynamic effects of Tibetan Plateau and westerly jet provide appropriate settings for the maintenance of ascending motion, while water vapor, as cloud water supply, stably comes from the southern flank of the Tibetan Plateau and South China Sea. During pentads 25–36 (early May to late June), SWCRE is further enhanced by the increased water vapor transport caused by the march of East Asian monsoon systems, particularly after the onset of the South China Sea monsoon. After pentad 36, these circulations quickly weaken and the SWCRE decreases accordingly. Individual years with spring strong and weak rainfall are chosen to highlight the importance of the strength of the ascending motion. The simulation broadly reproduced the observed results, although biases exist. Finally, the model biases in SWCRE–circulation associations are discussed.

Open access
Wei-Chyung Wang, Wei Gong, Wen-Shung Kau, Cheng-Ta Chen, Huang-Hsiung Hsu, and Chia-Hsiu Tu

Abstract

Observations indicate that the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) exhibits distinctive characteristics of large cloud amounts with associated heavy and persistent rainfall, although short breaks for clear sky usually occur. Consequently, the effects of cloud–radiation interactions can play an important role in the general circulation of the atmosphere and, thus, the evolution of the EASM. In this note, as a first step toward studying the topic, the 5-yr (January 1985–December 1989) Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) dataset is used to show the spatial and temporal patterns of both shortwave (SW) and longwave (LW) cloud radiative forcing (CRF) at the top of the atmosphere over east China, and to compare the observed features with Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project-II (AMIP-II) simulations with the University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNYA) Community Climate Model 3 (CCM3) and the ECHAM4 general circulation models.

The observations indicate that the net CRF provides a cooling effect to the atmosphere–surface climate system, dominated by the SW CRF cooling (albedo effect) with partial compensation from the LW CRF warming (greenhouse effect). The SW CRF shows a strong seasonal cycle, and its peak magnitude is particularly large, ∼110 W m−2, for south China and the Yangtze–Huai River valley (YHRV) during May and June, while the LW CRF is about 50 W m−2 for the same months with a weak dependence on the latitudes and seasons. These characteristics are in sharp contrast to the Northern Hemispheric zonal means of the same latitude bands and seasons, thus implying a unique role for cloud–radiation interaction in east China. Both model simulations show similar observed characteristics, although biases exist. For example, in May, the ECHAM4 underestimates the SW CRF while the SUNYA CCM3 simulates a significantly larger value, both attributed to the respective biases in the simulated total cloud cover. Model-to-observation comparisons of the association between total cloud cover and SW CRF, and between high cloud cover and LW CRF, are also presented and their differences are discussed. Finally, the SUNYA CCM3 biases in the CRF and its relevance to the model cloud biases are discussed in the context of model cold and dry biases in climate simulations.

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Wei-Chyung Wang, Qing-Yun Zhang, David R. Easterling, and Thomas R. Karl

Abstract

Two aspects of Beijing cloudiness are studied: its relationship to other climate parameters during the period 1951–1990 and the reconstruction of proxy values between 1875 and 1950. For the recent period, cloudiness varies with no apparent trend and is highly correlated with the total number of rain days (r=0.77) and total sunshine duration (r=0.72). Good correlation is also found with maximum surface air temperature, surface relative humidity, and total precipitation. While the correlation between cloudiness and solar radiation was large prior to 1976, the coefficient for the period 1976–1990 is much smaller. This decrease can be attributed to a negative trend in solar radiation, which is consistent with an observed decrease in visibility. Variations in Beijing cloudiness are closely related to those found over most of northern China, while little similarity is found with locations south of 35°N.

The large correlation between annual cloudiness and the total number of rain days between 1951 and 1990 was used in conjunction with the observed rain day record for the period 1875–1950 to construct a proxy cloudiness record for Beijing for the period 1875–1950. Comparisons between proxy cloudiness and available observations of surface air temperature and relative humidity reveal that the relationships are consistent with those found when observed cloudiness is compared with observed temperature and humidity data. On the century time scale, there is no clear trend in percent cloudiness. However, on the decadal time scale, there is a negative trend in cloudiness during the period 1880–1930 followed by a period of relatively constant values between 1940 and 1975.

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Wei Gu, Lin Wang, Zeng-Zhen Hu, Kaiming Hu, and Yong Li

Abstract

The first rainy season (FRS), also known as the presummer rainy season, is the first standing stage of the East Asian summer monsoon when over 40% of the annual precipitation is received over South China. Based on the start and end dates of the FRS defined by the China Meteorological Administration, this study investigates the interannual variations of the FRS precipitation over South China and its mechanism with daily mean data. The length and start/end date of the FRS vary year to year, and the average length of the FRS is 90 days, spanning from 6 April to 4 July. Composite analyses reveal that the years with abundant FRS precipitation over South China feature weakened anticyclonic wind shear over the Indochina Peninsula in the upper troposphere, southwestward shift of the western Pacific subtropical high, and anticyclonic wind anomalies over the South China Sea in the lower troposphere. The lower-tropospheric southwesterly wind anomalies are especially important because they help to enhance warm advection and water vapor transport toward South China, increase the lower tropospheric convective instability, and shape the pattern of the anomalous ascent over South China. It is further proposed that a local positive feedback between circulation and precipitation exists in this process. The variability of the FRS precipitation can be well explained by a zonal sea surface temperature (SST) dipole in the tropical Pacific and the associated Matsuno–Gill-type Rossby wave response over the western North Pacific. The interannual variability of both the SST dipole and the FRS precipitation over South China is weakened after the year 2000.

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Chao Wang, Liguang Wu, Jun Lu, Qingyuan Liu, Haikun Zhao, Wei Tian, and Jian Cao

Abstract

Understanding variations in tropical cyclone (TC) translation speed (TCS) is of great importance for islands and coastal regions since it is an important factor in determining TC-induced local damages. Investigating the long-term change in TCS was usually subject to substantial limitations in the quality of historical TC records, but here we investigated the interannual variability in TCS over the western North Pacific (WNP) Ocean by using reliable satellite TC records. It was found that both temporal changes in large-scale steering flow and TC track greatly contributed to interannual variability in the WNP TCS. In the peak season (July–September), TCS changes were closely related to temporal variations in large-scale steering flow, which was linked to the intensity of the western North Pacific subtropical high. However, for the late season (October–December), changes in TC track played a vital role in interannual variability in TCS while the impacts of temporal variations in large-scale steering were weak. The changes in TC track were mainly contributed by the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-induced zonal migrations in TC genesis locations, which make more or fewer TCs move to the subtropical WNP, thus leading to notable changes in the basinwide TCS because of the much greater large-scale steering in the subtropical WNP. The increased influence of TC track change on TCS in the late season was linked to the greater contrast between the subtropical and the tropical large-scale steering in the late season. These results have important implications for understanding current and future variations in TCS.

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