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Kiranmayi Landu
,
L. Ruby Leung
,
Samson Hagos
,
V. Vinoj
,
Sara A. Rauscher
,
Todd Ringler
, and
Mark Taylor

Abstract

Aquaplanet simulations using the Community Atmosphere Model, version 4 (CAM4), with the Model for Prediction Across Scales–Atmosphere (MPAS-A) and High-Order Method Modeling Environment (HOMME) dynamical cores and using zonally symmetric sea surface temperature (SST) structure are studied to understand the dependence of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) structure on resolution and dynamical core. While all resolutions in HOMME and the low-resolution MPAS-A simulations give a single equatorial peak in zonal mean precipitation, the high-resolution MPAS-A simulations give a double ITCZ with precipitation peaking around 2°–3° on either side of the equator. This study reveals that the structure of ITCZ is dependent on the feedbacks between convection and large-scale circulation. It is shown that the difference in specific humidity between HOMME and MPAS-A can lead to different latitudinal distributions of the convective available potential energy (CAPE) by influencing latent heat release by clouds and the upper-tropospheric temperature. With lower specific humidity, the high-resolution MPAS-A simulation has CAPE increasing away from the equator that enhances convection away from the equator and, through a positive feedback on the circulation, results in a double ITCZ structure. In addition, it is shown that the dominance of antisymmetric waves in the model is not enough to cause double ITCZ, and the lateral extent of equatorial waves does not play an important role in determining the width of the ITCZ but rather the latter may influence the former.

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Céline J. W. Bonfils
,
Benjamin D. Santer
,
Thomas J. Phillips
,
Kate Marvel
,
L. Ruby Leung
,
Charles Doutriaux
, and
Antonietta Capotondi

Abstract

El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is an important driver of regional hydroclimate variability through far-reaching teleconnections. This study uses simulations performed with coupled general circulation models (CGCMs) to investigate how regional precipitation in the twenty-first century may be affected by changes in both ENSO-driven precipitation variability and slowly evolving mean rainfall. First, a dominant, time-invariant pattern of canonical ENSO variability (cENSO) is identified in observed SST data. Next, the fidelity with which 33 state-of-the-art CGCMs represent the spatial structure and temporal variability of this pattern (as well as its associated precipitation responses) is evaluated in simulations of twentieth-century climate change. Possible changes in both the temporal variability of this pattern and its associated precipitation teleconnections are investigated in twenty-first-century climate projections. Models with better representation of the observed structure of the cENSO pattern produce winter rainfall teleconnection patterns that are in better accord with twentieth-century observations and more stationary during the twenty-first century. Finally, the model-predicted twenty-first-century rainfall response to cENSO is decomposed into the sum of three terms: 1) the twenty-first-century change in the mean state of precipitation, 2) the historical precipitation response to the cENSO pattern, and 3) a future enhancement in the rainfall response to cENSO, which amplifies rainfall extremes. By examining the three terms jointly, this conceptual framework allows the identification of regions likely to experience future rainfall anomalies that are without precedent in the current climate.

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Jian Lu
,
Koichi Sakaguchi
,
Qing Yang
,
L. Ruby Leung
,
Gang Chen
,
Chun Zhao
,
Erik Swenson
, and
Zhangshuan J. Hou

Abstract

Building on the recent advent of the concept of finite-amplitude wave activity, a contour-following diagnostics for column water vapor (CWV) is developed and applied to a pair of aquaplanet model simulations to understand and quantify the higher moments in the global hydrological cycle. The Lagrangian nature of the diagnostics leads to a more tractable formalism for the transient, zonally asymmetric component of the hydrological cycle, with a strong linear relation emerging between the wave activity and the wave component of precipitation minus evaporation ( ). The dry-versus-wet disparity in the transient hydrological cycle is measured by , and it is found to increase at a super-Clausius–Clapeyron rate at the poleward side of the mean storm track in response to a uniform sea surface temperature (SST) warming and the meridional structure of the increase can be largely attributed to the change of the meridional stirring scale of the midlatitude Rossby waves. Further scaling for indicates that the rate of the wavy hydrological cycle, measured by the ratio of to the CWV wave activity, is subdued almost everywhere in the extratropics, implying an overall weakening of the transient circulation. Extending the CWV wave activity analysis to the transient moist regions helps reveal some unique characteristics of atmospheric rivers in terms of transport function, minimum precipitation efficiency, and maximum hydrological cycle rate, as well as an overall weakening of the hydrological cycle rate in the atmospheric river regions under SST warming.

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Fukai Liu
,
Jian Lu
,
Oluwayemi A. Garuba
,
Yi Huang
,
L. Ruby Leung
,
Bryce E. Harrop
, and
Yiyong Luo

Abstract

A large set of Green’s function-type experiments is performed with q-flux forcings mimicking the effects of the ocean heat uptake (OHU) to examine the global surface air temperature (SAT) sensitivities to the location of the forcing. The result of the experiments confirms the earlier notion derived from experiments with different model complexities that the global mean SAT is far more sensitive to the oceanic forcing from high latitudes than the tropics. Remarkably, no matter in which latitude the q-flux forcings are placed, the SAT response is always characterized by a feature of polar amplification, implicating that it is intrinsic to our climate system. Considerable zonal asymmetry is also present in the efficacy of the tropical OHU, with the tropical eastern Pacific being much more efficient than the Indian Ocean and tropical Atlantic in driving global SAT warming by exciting the leading neutral mode of the SAT that projects strongly onto global mean warming. Using a radiative kernel, feedback analysis is also conducted to unravel the underlying processes responsible for the spatial heterogeneity in the global OHU efficacy, the polar amplification structures, and the tropical altruism of sharing the warmth with remote latitudes. Warming “altruism” for a q flux at a given latitude is also investigated in terms of the ratio of the induced remote latitudes versus the directly forced local warming. It is found that the tropics are much more altruistic than higher latitudes because of the high-energy transport efficiency of the Hadley circulation.

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Travis A. O'Brien
,
Fuyu Li
,
William D. Collins
,
Sara A. Rauscher
,
Todd D. Ringler
,
Mark Taylor
,
Samson M. Hagos
, and
L. Ruby Leung

Abstract

Observations of robust scaling behavior in clouds and precipitation are used to derive constraints on how partitioning of precipitation should change with model resolution. Analysis indicates that 90%–99% of stratiform precipitation should occur in clouds that are resolvable by contemporary climate models (e.g., with 200-km or finer grid spacing). Furthermore, this resolved fraction of stratiform precipitation should increase sharply with resolution, such that effectively all stratiform precipitation should be resolvable above scales of ~50 km. It is shown that the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) and the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) also exhibit the robust cloud and precipitation scaling behavior that is present in observations, yet the resolved fraction of stratiform precipitation actually decreases with increasing model resolution. A suite of experiments with multiple dynamical cores provides strong evidence that this “scale-incognizant” behavior originates in one of the CAM4 parameterizations. An additional set of sensitivity experiments rules out both convection parameterizations, and by a process of elimination these results implicate the stratiform cloud and precipitation parameterization. Tests with the CAM5 physics package show improvements in the resolution dependence of resolved cloud fraction and resolved stratiform precipitation fraction.

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Jian Lu
,
Gang Chen
,
L. Ruby Leung
,
D. Alex Burrows
,
Qing Yang
,
Koichi Sakaguchi
, and
Samson Hagos

Abstract

Systematic sensitivity of the jet position and intensity to horizontal model resolution is identified in several aquaplanet AGCMs, with the coarser resolution producing a more equatorward eddy-driven jet and a stronger upper-tropospheric jet intensity. As the resolution of the models increases to 50 km or finer, the jet position and intensity show signs of convergence within each model group. The mechanism for this convergence behavior is investigated using a hybrid Eulerian–Lagrangian finite-amplitude wave activity budget developed for the upper-tropospheric absolute vorticity. The results suggest that the poleward shift of the eddy-driven jet with higher resolution can be attributed to the smaller effective diffusivity of the model in the midlatitudes that allows more wave activity to survive the dissipation and to reach the subtropical critical latitude for wave breaking. The enhanced subtropical wave breaking and associated irreversible vorticity mixing act to maintain a more poleward peak of the vorticity gradient, and thus a more poleward jet. Being overdissipative, the coarse-resolution AGCMs misrepresent the nuanced nonlinear aspect of the midlatitude eddy–mean flow interaction, giving rise to the equatorward bias of the eddy-driven jet. In accordance with the asymptotic behavior of effective diffusivity of Batchelor turbulence in the large Peclet number limit, the upper-tropospheric effective diffusivity of the aquaplanet AGCMs displays signs of convergence in the midlatitude toward a value of approximately 107 m2 s−1 for the ∇2 diffusion. This provides a dynamical underpinning for the convergence of the jet stream observed in these AGCMs at high resolution.

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Koichi Sakaguchi
,
L. Ruby Leung
,
Chun Zhao
,
Qing Yang
,
Jian Lu
,
Samson Hagos
,
Sara A. Rauscher
,
Li Dong
,
Todd D. Ringler
, and
Peter H. Lauritzen

Abstract

This study presents a diagnosis of a multiresolution approach using the Model for Prediction Across Scales–Atmosphere (MPAS-A) for simulating regional climate. Four Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP) experiments were conducted for 1999–2009. In the first two experiments, MPAS-A was configured using global quasi-uniform grids at 120- and 30-km grid spacing. In the other two experiments, MPAS-A was configured using variable-resolution (VR) mesh with local refinement at 30 km over North America and South America and embedded in a quasi-uniform domain at 120 km elsewhere. Precipitation and related fields in the four simulations are examined to determine how well the VRs reproduce the features simulated by the globally high-resolution model in the refined domain. In previous analyses of idealized aquaplanet simulations, characteristics of the global high-resolution simulation in moist processes developed only near the boundary of the refined region. In contrast, AMIP simulations with VR grids can reproduce high-resolution characteristics across the refined domain, particularly in South America. This finding indicates the importance of finely resolved lower boundary forcings such as topography and surface heterogeneity for regional climate and demonstrates the ability of the MPAS-A VR to replicate the large-scale moisture transport as simulated in the quasi-uniform high-resolution model. Upscale effects from the high-resolution regions on a large-scale circulation outside the refined domain are observed, but the effects are mainly limited to northeastern Asia during the warm season. Together, the results support the multiresolution approach as a computationally efficient and physically consistent method for modeling regional climate.

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Hongyi Li
,
Mark S. Wigmosta
,
Huan Wu
,
Maoyi Huang
,
Yinghai Ke
,
André M. Coleman
, and
L. Ruby Leung

Abstract

A new physically based runoff routing model, called the Model for Scale Adaptive River Transport (MOSART), has been developed to be applicable across local, regional, and global scales. Within each spatial unit, surface runoff is first routed across hillslopes and then discharged along with subsurface runoff into a “tributary subnetwork” before entering the main channel. The spatial units are thus linked via routing through the main channel network, which is constructed in a scale-consistent way across different spatial resolutions. All model parameters are physically based, and only a small subset requires calibration. MOSART has been applied to the Columbia River basin at ⅙°, ⅛°, ¼°, and ½° spatial resolutions and was evaluated using naturalized or observed streamflow at a number of gauge stations. MOSART is compared to two other routing models widely used with land surface models, the River Transport Model (RTM) in the Community Land Model (CLM) and the Lohmann routing model, included as a postprocessor in the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model package, yielding consistent performance at multiple resolutions. MOSART is further evaluated using the channel velocities derived from field measurements or a hydraulic model at various locations and is shown to be capable of producing the seasonal variation and magnitude of channel velocities reasonably well at different resolutions. Moreover, the impacts of spatial resolution on model simulations are systematically examined at local and regional scales. Finally, the limitations of MOSART and future directions for improvements are discussed.

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Sheng Ye
,
Hong-Yi Li
,
L. Ruby Leung
,
Jiali Guo
,
Qihua Ran
,
Yonas Demissie
, and
Murugesu Sivapalan

Abstract

Understanding the causes of flood seasonality is critical for better flood management. This study examines the seasonality of annual maximum floods (AMF) and its changes before and after 1980 at over 250 natural catchments across the contiguous United States. Using circular statistics to define a seasonality index, the analysis focuses on the variability of the flood occurrence date. Generally, catchments with more synchronized seasonal water and energy cycles largely inherit their seasonality of AMF from that of annual maximum rainfall (AMR). In contrast, the seasonality of AMF in catchments with loosely synchronized water and energy cycles are more influenced by high antecedent storage, which is responsible for the amplification of the seasonality of AMF over that of AMR. This understanding then effectively explains a statistically significant shift of flood seasonality detected in some catchments in the recent decades. Catchments where the antecedent soil water storage has increased since 1980 exhibit increasing flood seasonality while catchments that have experienced increases in storm rainfall before the floods have shifted toward floods occurring more variably across the seasons. In the eastern catchments, a concurrent widespread increase in event rainfall magnitude and reduced soil water storage have led to a more variable timing of floods. The findings of the role of antecedent storage and event rainfall on the flood seasonality provide useful insights for understanding future changes in flood seasonality as climate models projected changes in extreme precipitation and aridity over land.

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Karthik Balaguru
,
Gregory R. Foltz
,
L. Ruby Leung
,
John Kaplan
,
Wenwei Xu
,
Nicolas Reul
, and
Bertrand Chapron

Abstract

Tropical cyclone (TC) rapid intensification (RI) is difficult to predict and poses a formidable threat to coastal populations. A warm upper ocean is well known to favor RI, but the role of ocean salinity is less clear. This study shows a strong inverse relationship between salinity and TC RI in the eastern Caribbean and western tropical Atlantic due to near-surface freshening from the Amazon–Orinoco River system. In this region, rapidly intensifying TCs induce a much stronger surface enthalpy flux compared to more weakly intensifying storms, in part due to a reduction in SST cooling caused by salinity stratification. This reduction has a noticeable positive impact on TCs undergoing RI, but the impact of salinity on more weakly intensifying storms is insignificant. These statistical results are confirmed through experiments with an ocean mixed layer model, which show that the salinity-induced reduction in SST cold wakes increases significantly as the storm’s intensification rate increases. Currently, operational statistical–dynamical RI models do not use salinity as a predictor. Through experiments with a statistical RI prediction scheme, it is found that the inclusion of surface salinity significantly improves the RI detection skill, offering promise for improved operational RI prediction. Satellite surface salinity may be valuable for this purpose, given its global coverage and availability in near–real time.

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