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Thomas B. Richardson, Piers M. Forster, Timothy Andrews, and Doug J. Parker

Abstract

Precipitation exhibits a significant rapid adjustment in response to forcing, which is important for understanding long-term climate change. In this study, fixed sea surface temperature (SST) simulations are used to analyze the spatial pattern of the rapid precipitation response. Three different forcing scenarios are investigated using data obtained from phase 5 of CMIP (CMIP5): an abrupt quadrupling of CO2, an abrupt increase in sulfate, and an abrupt increase in all anthropogenic aerosol levels from preindustrial to present day. Analysis of the local energy budget is used to understand the mechanisms that drive the observed changes.

It is found that the spatial pattern of the rapid precipitation response to forcing is primarily driven by rapid land surface temperature change, rather than the change in tropospheric diabatic cooling. As a result, the pattern of response due to increased CO2 opposes that due to sulfate and all anthropogenic aerosols, because of the opposing surface forcing. The rapid regional precipitation response to increased CO2 is robust among models, implying that the uncertainty in long-term changes is mainly associated with the response to SST-mediated feedbacks. Increased CO2 causes rapid warming of the land surface, which destabilizes the troposphere, enhancing convection and precipitation over land in the tropics. Precipitation is reduced over most tropical oceans because of a weakening of overturning circulation and a general shift of convection to over land. Over most land regions in the midlatitudes, circulation changes are small. Reduced tropospheric cooling therefore leads to drying over many midlatitude land regions.

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James S. Risbey, Didier P. Monselesan, Amanda S. Black, Thomas S. Moore, Doug Richardson, Dougal T. Squire, and Carly R. Tozer

Abstract

From time to time atmospheric flows become organized and form coherent long-lived structures. Such structures could be propagating, quasi-stationary, or recur in place. We investigate the ability of principal components analysis (PCA) and archetypal analysis (AA) to identify long-lived events, excluding propagating forms. Our analysis is carried out on the Southern Hemisphere midtropospheric flow represented by geopotential height at 500 hPa (Z 500). The leading basis patterns of Z 500 for PCA and AA are similar and describe structures representing (or similar to) the southern annular mode (SAM) and Pacific–South American (PSA) pattern. Long-lived events are identified here from sequences of 8 days or longer where the same basis pattern dominates for PCA or AA. AA identifies more long-lived events than PCA using this approach. The most commonly occurring long-lived event for both AA and PCA is the annular SAM-like pattern. The second most commonly occurring event is the PSA-like Pacific wave train for both AA and PCA. For AA the flow at any given time is approximated as weighted contributions from each basis pattern, which lends itself to metrics for discriminating among basis patterns. These show that the longest long-lived events are in general better expressed than shorter events. Case studies of long-lived events featuring a blocking structure and an annular structure show that both PCA and AA can identify and discriminate the dominant basis pattern that most closely resembles the flow event.

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Doug Richardson, Amanda S. Black, Didier P. Monselesan, Thomas S. Moore II, James S. Risbey, Andrew Schepen, Dougal T. Squire, and Carly R. Tozer

Abstract

Subseasonal forecast skill is not homogeneous in time, and prior assessment of the likely forecast skill would be valuable for end-users. We propose a method for identifying periods of high forecast confidence using atmospheric circulation patterns, with an application to southern Australia precipitation. In particular, we use archetypal analysis to derive six patterns, called archetypes, of daily 500-hPa geopotential height (Z 500) fields over Australia. We assign Z 500 reanalysis fields to the closest-matching archetype and subsequently link the archetypes to precipitation for three key regions in the Australian agriculture and energy sectors: the Murray Basin, southwest Western Australia, and western Tasmania. Using a 20-yr hindcast dataset from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts subseasonal-to-seasonal prediction system, we identify periods of high confidence as when hindcast Z 500 fields closely match an archetype according to a distance criterion. We compare the precipitation hindcast accuracy during these confident periods compared to normal. Considering all archetypes, we show that there is greater skill during confident periods for lead times of less than 10 days in the Murray Basin and western Tasmania, and for greater than 6 days in southwest Western Australia, although these conclusions are subject to substantial uncertainty. By breaking down the skill results for each archetype individually, we highlight how skill tends to be greater than normal for those archetypes associated with drier-than-average conditions.

Open access
Amanda S. Black, James S. Risbey, Christopher C. Chapman, Didier P. Monselesan, Thomas S. Moore II, Michael J. Pook, Doug Richardson, Bernadette M. Sloyan, Dougal T. Squire, and Carly R. Tozer

Abstract

Large-scale cloud features referred to as cloudbands are known to be related to widespread and heavy rain via the transport of tropical heat and moisture to higher latitudes. The Australian northwest cloudband is such a feature that has been identified in simple searches of satellite imagery but with limited investigation of its atmospheric dynamical support. An accurate, long-term climatology of northwest cloudbands is key to robustly assessing these events. A dynamically based search algorithm has been developed that is guided by the presence and orientation of the subtropical jet stream. This jet stream is the large-scale atmospheric feature that determines the development and alignment of a cloudband. Using a new 40-yr dataset of cloudband events compiled by this search algorithm, composite atmospheric and ocean surface conditions over the period 1979–2018 have been assessed. Composite cloudband upper-level flow revealed a tilted low pressure trough embedded in a Rossby wave train. Composites of vertically integrated water vapor transport centered around the jet maximum during northwest cloudband events reveal a distinct atmospheric river supplying tropical moisture for cloudband rainfall. Parcel backtracking indicated multiple regions of moisture support for cloudbands. A thermal wind anomaly orientated with respect to an enhanced sea surface temperature gradient over the Indian Ocean was also a key composite cloudband feature. A total of 300 years of a freely coupled control simulation of the ACCESS-D system was assessed for its ability to simulate northwest cloudbands. Composite analysis of model cloudbands compared reasonably well to reanalysis despite some differences in seasonality and frequency of occurrence.

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Terence J. O’Kane, Paul A. Sandery, Vassili Kitsios, Pavel Sakov, Matthew A. Chamberlain, Dougal T. Squire, Mark A. Collier, Christopher C. Chapman, Russell Fiedler, Dylan Harries, Thomas S. Moore, Doug Richardson, James S. Risbey, Benjamin J. E. Schroeter, Serena Schroeter, Bernadette M. Sloyan, Carly Tozer, Ian G. Watterson, Amanda Black, Courtney Quinn, and Richard J. Matear

Abstract

The CSIRO Climate retrospective Analysis and Forecast Ensemble system, version 1 (CAFE60v1) provides a large (96 member) ensemble retrospective analysis of the global climate system from 1960 to present with sufficiently many realizations and at spatiotemporal resolutions suitable to enable probabilistic climate studies. Using a variant of the ensemble Kalman filter, 96 climate state estimates are generated over the most recent six decades. These state estimates are constrained by monthly mean ocean, atmosphere, and sea ice observations such that their trajectories track the observed state while enabling estimation of the uncertainties in the approximations to the retrospective mean climate over recent decades. For the atmosphere, we evaluate CAFE60v1 in comparison to empirical indices of the major climate teleconnections and blocking with various reanalysis products. Estimates of the large-scale ocean structure, transports, and biogeochemistry are compared to those derived from gridded observational products and climate model projections (CMIP). Sea ice (extent, concentration, and variability) and land surface (precipitation and surface air temperatures) are also compared to a variety of model and observational products. Our results show that CAFE60v1 is a useful, comprehensive, and unique data resource for studying internal climate variability and predictability, including the recent climate response to anthropogenic forcing on multiyear to decadal time scales.

Open access