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Wei Mei
,
Youichi Kamae
,
Shang-Ping Xie
, and
Kohei Yoshida

Abstract

Variability of North Atlantic annual hurricane frequency during 1951–2010 is studied using a 100-member ensemble of climate simulations by a 60-km atmospheric general circulation model that is forced by observed sea surface temperatures (SSTs). The ensemble mean results well capture the interannual-to-decadal variability of hurricane frequency in best track data since 1970, and suggest that the current best track data might underestimate hurricane frequency prior to 1966 when satellite measurements were unavailable. A genesis potential index (GPI) averaged over the main development region (MDR) accounts for more than 80% of the SST-forced variations in hurricane frequency, with potential intensity and vertical wind shear being the dominant factors. In line with previous studies, the difference between MDR SST and tropical mean SST is a useful predictor; a 1°C increase in this SST difference produces 7.05 ± 1.39 more hurricanes. The hurricane frequency also exhibits strong internal variability that is systematically larger in the model than observations. The seasonal-mean environment is highly correlated among ensemble members and contributes to less than 10% of the ensemble spread in hurricane frequency. The strong internal variability is suggested to originate from weather to intraseasonal variability and nonlinearity. In practice, a 20-member ensemble is sufficient to capture the SST-forced variability.

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Wenyu Zhou
,
Shang-Ping Xie
, and
Zhen-Qiang Zhou

Abstract

The rapid intensification of convective activity in mid-July over the northwest Pacific marks the final stage of the Asian summer monsoon, accompanied by major shifts in regional rainfall and circulation patterns. An entraining plume model is used to investigate the physical processes underlying the abrupt convective jump. Despite little change in sea surface temperature (SST), gradual lower-troposphere mixing leads to a threshold transition in the model as follows. Before mid-July, although SST is already high (29°C), the convective plume is inhibited by the capping inversion above the trade cumulus boundary layer. As the lower troposphere is gradually mixed, the boundary layer top rises with reduced atmospheric stability and increased humidity in the lower troposphere. These factors weaken the inhibition effect of the inversion on the entraining plume. As soon as the plume is able to overcome the inversion barrier, it can rise all the way to the upper troposphere. This marks an abrupt threshold transition to a deep convection regime with heavy rainfall. The convective available potential energy (CAPE) of the entraining plume is found to be a better indicator of the rainfall intensity compared to the conventional undiluted CAPE. The latter fails to capture the onset by neglecting interactions between convective clouds and the environment. Current general circulation models (GCMs) fail to capture the abrupt convective jump and instead simulate a rather smooth seasonal evolution of rainfall. Compared to observations, GCMs simulate a higher trade cumulus top with excessive mixing in the lower troposphere. Convection is no longer inhibited by the inversion barrier, and rainfall simply follows the smooth variation of SST.

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Yun Yang
,
Shang-Ping Xie
,
Lixin Wu
,
Yu Kosaka
, and
Jianping Li

Abstract

A spurious band of enhanced sea surface temperature (SST) variance (SBEV) is identified over the northern equatorial Atlantic in the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) Climate Model, version 2.1. The SBEV is especially pronounced in boreal spring owing to the combined effect of both anomalous atmospheric thermal forcing and oceanic vertical upwelling. The SBEV is a common bias in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), found in 14 out of 23 models. The SBEV in CMIP5 is associated with the atmospheric thermal forcing and the oceanic vertical upwelling, similar to GFDL CM2.1. While the tropical North Atlantic variability is only weakly correlated with the Atlantic zonal mode (AZM) in observations, the SBEV in CMIP5 produces conditions that drive and intensify the AZM variability via triggering the Bjerknes feedback. This partially explains why AZM is strong in some CMIP5 models even though the equatorial cold tongue and easterly trades are biased low.

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Youichi Kamae
,
Wei Mei
,
Shang-Ping Xie
,
Moeka Naoi
, and
Hiroaki Ueda

Abstract

Atmospheric rivers (ARs), conduits of intense water vapor transport in the midlatitudes, are critically important for water resources and heavy rainfall events over the west coast of North America, Europe, and Africa. ARs are also frequently observed over the northwestern Pacific (NWP) during boreal summer but have not been studied comprehensively. Here the climatology, seasonal variation, interannual variability, and predictability of NWP ARs (NWPARs) are examined by using a large ensemble, high-resolution atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) simulation and a global atmospheric reanalysis. The AGCM captures general characteristics of climatology and variability compared to the reanalysis, suggesting a strong sea surface temperature (SST) effect on NWPARs. The summertime NWPAR occurrences are tightly related to El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the preceding winter through Indo–western Pacific Ocean capacitor (IPOC) effects. An enhanced East Asian summer monsoon and a low-level anticyclonic anomaly over the tropical western North Pacific in the post–El Niño summer reinforce low-level water vapor transport from the tropics with increased occurrence of NWPARs. The strong coupling with ENSO and IPOC indicates a high predictability of anomalous summertime NWPAR activity.

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Wei Liu
,
Jian Lu
,
Shang-Ping Xie
, and
Alexey Fedorov

Abstract

Climate models show that most of the anthropogenic heat resulting from increased atmospheric CO2 enters the Southern Ocean near 60°S and is stored around 45°S. This heat is transported to the ocean interior by the meridional overturning circulation (MOC) with wind changes playing an important role in the process. To isolate and quantify the latter effect, we apply an overriding technique to a climate model and decompose the total ocean response to CO2 increase into two major components: one due to wind changes and the other due to direct CO2 effect. We find that the poleward-intensified zonal surface winds tend to shift and strengthen the ocean Deacon cell and hence the residual MOC, leading to anomalous divergence of ocean meridional heat transport around 60°S coupled to a surface heat flux increase. In contrast, at 45°S we see anomalous convergence of ocean heat transport and heat loss at the surface. As a result, the wind-induced ocean heat storage (OHS) peaks at 46°S at a rate of 0.07 ZJ yr−1 (° lat)−1 (1 ZJ = 1021 J), contributing 20% to the total OHS maximum. The direct CO2 effect, on the other hand, very slightly alters the residual MOC but primarily warms the ocean. It induces a small but nonnegligible change in eddy heat transport and causes OHS to peak at 42°S at a rate of 0.30 ZJ yr−1 (° lat)−1, accounting for 80% of the OHS maximum. We also find that the eddy-induced MOC weakens, primarily caused by a buoyancy flux change as a result of the direct CO2 effect, and does not compensate the intensified Deacon cell.

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Nicholas Siler
,
Yu Kosaka
,
Shang-Ping Xie
, and
Xichen Li

Abstract

The major El Niño of 2015/16 brought significantly less precipitation to California than previous events of comparable strength, much to the disappointment of residents suffering through the state’s fourth consecutive year of severe drought. Here, California’s weak precipitation in 2015/16 relative to previous major El Niño events is investigated within a 40-member ensemble of atmosphere-only simulations run with historical sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and constant radiative forcing. The simulations reveal significant differences in both California precipitation and the large-scale atmospheric circulation between 2015/16 and previous strong El Niño events, which are similar to (albeit weaker than) the differences found in observations. Principal component analysis indicates that these ensemble-mean differences were likely related to a pattern of tropical SST variability with a strong signal in the Indian Ocean and western Pacific and a weaker signal in the eastern equatorial Pacific and subtropical North Atlantic. This SST pattern was missed by the majority of forecast models, which could partly explain their erroneous predictions of above-average precipitation in California in 2015/16.

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Chuan-Yang Wang
,
Shang-Ping Xie
, and
Yu Kosaka

Abstract

El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) peaks in boreal winter but its impact on Indo-western Pacific climate persists for another two seasons. Key ocean–atmosphere interaction processes for the ENSO effect are investigated using the Pacific Ocean–Global Atmosphere (POGA) experiment with a coupled general circulation model, where tropical Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies are restored to follow observations while the atmosphere and oceans are fully coupled elsewhere. The POGA shows skills in simulating the ENSO-forced warming of the tropical Indian Ocean and an anomalous anticyclonic circulation pattern over the northwestern tropical Pacific in the post–El Niño spring and summer. The 10-member POGA ensemble allows decomposing Indo-western Pacific variability into the ENSO forced and ENSO-unrelated (internal) components. Internal variability is comparable to the ENSO forcing in magnitude and independent of ENSO amplitude and phase. Random internal variability causes apparent decadal modulations of ENSO correlations over the Indo-western Pacific, which are high during epochs of high ENSO variance. This is broadly consistent with instrumental observations over the past 130 years as documented in recent studies. Internal variability features a sea level pressure pattern that extends into the north Indian Ocean and is associated with coherent SST anomalies from the Arabian Sea to the western Pacific, suggestive of ocean–atmosphere coupling.

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Jia-Rui Shi
,
Shang-Ping Xie
, and
Lynne D. Talley

Abstract

Ocean uptake of anthropogenic heat over the past 15 years has mostly occurred in the Southern Ocean, based on Argo float observations. This agrees with historical simulations from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), where the Southern Ocean (south of 30°S) accounts for 72% ± 28% of global heat uptake, while the contribution from the North Atlantic north of 30°N is only 6%. Aerosols preferentially cool the Northern Hemisphere, and the effect on surface heat flux over the subpolar North Atlantic opposes the greenhouse gas (GHG) effect in nearly equal magnitude. This heat uptake compensation is associated with weakening (strengthening) of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) in response to GHG (aerosol) radiative forcing. Aerosols are projected to decline in the near future, reinforcing the greenhouse effect on the North Atlantic heat uptake. As a result, the Southern Ocean, which will continue to take up anthropogenic heat largely through the mean upwelling of water from depth, will be joined by increased relative contribution from the North Atlantic because of substantial AMOC slowdown in the twenty-first century. In the RCP8.5 scenario, the percentage contribution to global uptake is projected to decrease to 48% ± 8% in the Southern Ocean and increase to 26% ± 6% in the northern North Atlantic. Despite the large uncertainty in the magnitude of projected aerosol forcing, our results suggest that anthropogenic aerosols, given their geographic distributions and temporal trajectories, strongly influence the high-latitude ocean heat uptake and interhemispheric asymmetry through AMOC change.

Open access
Yu Zhang
,
Shang-Ping Xie
,
Yu Kosaka
, and
Jun-Chao Yang

Abstract

The Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) is the leading mode of sea surface temperature (SST) variability over the North Pacific (north of 20°N). Its South Pacific counterpart (south of 20°S) is the South Pacific decadal oscillation (SPDO). The effects of tropical eastern Pacific (TEP) SST forcing and internal atmospheric variability are investigated for both the PDO and SPDO using a 10-member ensemble tropical Pacific pacemaker experiment. Each member is forced by the historical radiative forcing and observed SST anomalies in the TEP region. Outside the TEP region, the ocean and atmosphere are fully coupled and freely evolve. The TEP-forced PDO (54% variance) and SPDO (46% variance) are correlated in time and exhibit a symmetric structure about the equator, driven by the Pacific–North American (PNA) and Pacific–South American teleconnections, respectively. The internal PDO resembles the TEP-forced component but is related to internal Aleutian low (AL) variability associated with the Northern Hemisphere annular mode and PNA pattern. The internal variability is locally enhanced by barotropic energy conversion in the westerly jet exit region around the Aleutians. By contrast, barotropic energy conversion is weak associated with the internal SPDO, resulting in weak geographical preference of sea level pressure variability. Therefore, the internal SPDO differs from the TEP-forced component, featuring SST anomalies along ~60°S in association with the Southern Hemisphere annular mode. The limitations on isolating the internal component from observations are discussed. Specifically, internal PDO variability appears to contribute significantly to the North Pacific regime shift in the 1940s.

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Hai Wang
,
Shang-Ping Xie
,
Yu Kosaka
,
Qinyu Liu
, and
Yan Du

Abstract

Anthropogenic aerosols partially mask the greenhouse warming and cause the reduction in Asian summer monsoon precipitation and circulation. By decomposing the atmospheric change into the direct atmospheric response to radiative forcing and sea surface temperature (SST)-mediated change, the physical mechanisms for anthropogenic-aerosol-induced changes in the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) and South Asian summer monsoon (SASM) are diagnosed. Using coupled and atmospheric general circulation models, this study shows that the aerosol-induced troposphere cooling over Asian land regions generates anomalous sinking motion between 20° and 40°N and weakens the EASM north of 20°N without SST change. The decreased EASM precipitation and the attendant wind changes are largely due to this direct atmospheric response to radiative forcing, although the aerosol-induced North Pacific SST cooling also contributes. The SST-mediated change dominates the aerosol-induced SASM response, with contributions from both the north–south interhemispheric SST gradient and the local SST cooling pattern over the tropical Indian Ocean. Specifically, with large meridional gradient, the zonal-mean SST cooling pattern is most important for the Asian summer monsoon response to anthropogenic aerosol forcing, resulting in a reorganization of the regional meridional atmospheric overturning circulation. While uncertainty in aerosol radiative forcing has been emphasized in the literature, our results show that the intermodel spread is as large in the SST effect on summer monsoon rainfall, calling for more research into the ocean–atmosphere coupling.

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