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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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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.

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