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Yi Huang

Abstract

A simulation experiment is conducted to inquire into the mean climate state and likely trends in atmospheric infrared radiation spectra. Upwelling and downwelling spectra at five vertical levels from the surface to the top of the atmosphere (TOA) are rigorously calculated from a climate-model-simulated atmosphere for a 25-yr period. Tracing the longwave radiation flux vertically and spectrally renders a dissection of the greenhouse effect of the earth atmosphere and its change due to climate forcings and feedbacks. The results show that the total outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) at the TOA may be conserved due to 1) compensating temperature and opacity effects and 2) contrasting temperature changes in troposphere and stratosphere. The tightly coupled tropospheric temperature and opacity effects reduce the overall tropospheric contribution to OLR change to be comparable to the overall stratospheric contribution, which suggests that transient OLR change is constrained by the relative strengths of stratospheric and tropospheric temperature changes.

The total OLR energy, however, is redistributed across its spectrum. The earliest detectable global climate change signal lies in the CO2 absorption bands, which results from stratospheric cooling and the CO2 opacity effect. This signal can be detected much sooner than surface temperature change and is little affected by achievable instrument accuracy.

In contrast, both tropospheric temperature and opacity effects increase downwelling longwave radiation (DLR), which makes DLR a verifiable aspect of global warming. The time it takes to detect surface DLR change roughly equals that of surface temperature change. Measuring downwelling radiances at strong water vapor lines at the tropopause can particularly help monitor stratospheric water vapor.

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Yi Huang

Abstract

This paper mainly addresses two issues that concern the longwave climate feedbacks. First, it is recognized that the radiative forcing of greenhouse gases, as measured by their impact on the outgoing longwave radiation (OLR), may vary across different climate models even when the concentrations of these gases are identically prescribed. This forcing variation contributes to the discrepancy in these models' projections of surface warming. A method is proposed to account for this effect in diagnosing the sensitivity and feedbacks in the models. Second, it is shown that the stratosphere is an important factor that affects the OLR in transient climate change. Stratospheric water vapor and temperature changes may both act as a positive feedback mechanism during global warming and cannot be fully accounted as a “stratospheric adjustment” of radiative forcing. Neglecting these two issues may cause a bias in the longwave cloud feedback diagnosed as a residual term in the decomposition of OLR variations. There is no consensus among the climate models on the sign of the longwave cloud feedback after accounting for both issues.

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Yuwei Wang
and
Yi Huang

Abstract

An atmospheric global climate model (GCM) and its associated single-column model are used to study the tropical upper-tropospheric warming and elucidate how different processes drive this warming. In this modeling framework, on average the direct radiative process accounts for 13% of the total warming. The radiation increases the atmospheric lapse rate and triggers more convection, which further produces 74% of the total warming. The remaining 13% is attributable to the circulation adjustment. The relative importance of these processes differs in different regions. In the deep tropics, the radiative–convective adjustment produces the most significant warming and accounts for almost 100% of the total warming. In the subtropics, the radiative–convective adjustment accounts for 73% of the total warming and the circulation adjustment plays a more important role than in the deep tropics, especially at the levels above 200 hPa. When the lateral boundary conditions (i.e., the temperature and water vapor advections) are held fixed in single-column simulations, the tropospheric relative humidity significantly increases in the radiative–convective adjustment in response to the surface warming. This result, in contrast to the relative humidity conservation behavior in the GCM, highlights the importance of circulation adjustment in maintaining the constant relative humidity. The tropical upper-tropospheric warming in both the full GCM and the single-column simulations is found to be less strong than the warming predicted by reference moist adiabats. This evidences that the sub-moist-adiabatic warming occurs even without the dilution effect of the large-scale circulation adjustment.

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Yuwei Wang
and
Yi Huang

Abstract

Climate model comparisons show that there is considerable uncertainty in the atmospheric temperature response to CO2 perturbation. The uncertainty results from both the rapid adjustment that occurs before SST changes and the slow feedbacks that occur after SST changes. The analysis in this paper focuses on the rapid adjustment. We use a novel method to decompose the temperature change in AMIP-type climate simulation in order to understand the adjustment at the process level. We isolate the effects of different processes, including radiation, convection, and large-scale circulation in the temperature adjustment, through a set of numerical experiments using a hierarchy of climate models. We find that radiative adjustment triggers and largely controls the zonal mean atmospheric temperature response pattern. This pattern is characterized by stratospheric cooling, lower-tropospheric warming, and a warming center near the tropical tropopause. In contrast to conventional views, the warming center near the tropopause is found to be critically dependent on the shortwave absorption of CO2. The dynamical processes largely counteract the effect of the radiative process that increases the vertical temperature gradient in the free troposphere. The effect of local convection is to move atmospheric energy vertically, which cools the lower troposphere and warms the upper troposphere. The adjustment due to large-scale circulation further redistributes energy along the isentropic surfaces across the latitudes, which cools the low-latitude lower troposphere and warms the midlatitude upper troposphere and stratosphere. Our results highlight the importance of the radiative adjustment in the overall adjustment and provide a potential method to understand the spread in the models.

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Minghong Zhang
and
Yi Huang

Abstract

An analysis method proposed by Huang is improved and used to dissect the radiative forcing in the instantaneous quadrupling CO2 experiment from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Multiple validation tests show that the errors in the forcing estimates are generally within 10%. The results show that quadrupling CO2, on average, induces a global-mean all-sky instantaneous top-of-the-atmosphere forcing of 5.4 W m−2, which is amended by a stratospheric adjustment of 1.9 W m−2 and a tropospheric adjustment of −0.1 W m−2. The resulting fully adjusted radiative forcing has an ensemble mean of 7.2 W m−2 and a substantial intermodel spread (maximum–minimum) of 2.4 W m−2, which results from all the forcing components, especially the instantaneous forcing and tropospheric adjustment. The fidelity of the linear decomposition of the overall radiation variation is improved when forcing is explicitly estimated for each model. A significant contribution by forcing uncertainty to the intermodel spread of the surface temperature projection is verified. The results reaffirm the importance of evaluating the radiative forcing components in climate feedback analyses.

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Yi Huang
and
V. Ramaswamy

Abstract

The variability and change occurring in the outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) spectrum are investigated by using simulations performed with a Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory coupled atmosphere–ocean–land general circulation model. First, the variability in unforced climate (natural variability) is simulated. Then, the change of OLR spectrum due to forced changes in climate is analyzed for a continuous 25-yr time series and for the difference between two time periods (1860s and 2000s). Spectrally resolved radiances have more pronounced and complex changes than broadband fluxes. In some spectral regions, the radiance change is dominated by just one controlling factor (e.g., the window region and CO2 band center radiances are controlled by surface and stratospheric temperatures, respectively) and well exceeds the natural variability. In some other spectral bands, the radiance change is influenced by multiple and often competing factors (e.g., the water vapor band radiance is influenced by both water vapor concentration and temperature) and, although still detectable against natural variability at certain frequencies, demands stringent requirements (drift less than 0.1 K decade−1 at spectral resolution no less than 1 cm−1) of observational platforms. The difference between clear-sky and all-sky radiances in the forced climate problem offers a measure of the change in the cloud radiative effect, but with a substantive dependence on the temperature lapse rate change. These results demonstrate that accurate and continuous observations of the OLR spectrum provide an advantageous means for monitoring the changes in the climate system and a stringent means for validating climate models.

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Yi-Kai Wu
,
An-Yi Huang
,
Chia-Kai Wu
,
Chi-Cherng Hong
, and
Chi-Chun Chang

Abstract

In the early 1990s, the mei-yu rainfall over South China in early boreal summer exhibited an abrupt change and northward extension. This change altered the pattern of East Asian summer rainfall from a dipole-like to a monopole-like pattern; that is, the out-of-phase relationship between the rainfall in the south and that in the north of the Yangtze and Huaihe River valley changed to an in-phase relationship. The physical processes potentially responsible for triggering this abrupt change were analyzed in this study. Our observations revealed that the western North Pacific subtropical high (WNPSH), sea surface temperature (SST) in the subtropical eastern North Pacific (SENP), and the mei-yu rainfall in South China exhibited an abrupt increase in the early 1990s, suggesting that these factors are correlated. From the observations and results of numerical experiments, we proposed that the abrupt SST warming in the SENP in the early 1990s generated an east–west overturning circulation anomaly in the Pacific Ocean and that the anomalous downward motion in the western North Pacific consequently triggered the abrupt increase and westward extension of the WNPSH in the early 1990s. The enhanced and westward extension of WNPSH created a low-level southeasterly anomaly that transported considerable humid and warm air into East Asia and sequentially triggered the abrupt increase of mei-yu rainfall in the South China in the early 1990s.

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Yan-Ting Chen
,
Yi Huang
, and
Timothy M. Merlis

Abstract

The radiative forcing of carbon dioxide (CO2) at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) has a rich spatial structure and has implications for large-scale climate changes, such as poleward energy transport and tropical circulation change. Beyond the TOA, additional CO2 increases downwelling longwave at the surface, and this change in flux is the surface CO2 forcing. Here we thoroughly evaluate the spatiotemporal variation of the instantaneous, longwave CO2 radiative forcing at both the TOA and surface. The instantaneous forcing is calculated with a radiative transfer model using ERA5 reanalysis fields. Multivariate regression models show that the broadband forcing at the TOA and surface are well predicted by local temperatures, humidity, and cloud radiative effects. The difference between the TOA and surface forcing, the atmospheric forcing, can be either positive or negative and is mostly controlled by the column water vapor, with little explicit dependence on the surface temperature. The role of local variables on the TOA forcing is also assessed by partitioning the change in radiative flux to the component emitted by the surface versus that emitted by the atmosphere. In cold, dry regions, the surface and atmospheric contribution partially cancel out, leading to locally weak or even negative TOA forcing. In contrast, in the warm, moist regions, the surface and atmospheric components strengthen each other, resulting in overall larger TOA forcing. The relative contributions of surface and atmosphere to the TOA forcing depend on the optical thickness in the current climate, which in turn is controlled by the column water vapor.

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Fukai Liu
,
Jian Lu
,
Yiyong Luo
,
Yi Huang
, and
Fengfei Song

Abstract

Climate models project an enhancement in SST seasonal cycle over the midlatitude oceans under global warming. The underlying mechanisms are investigated using a set of partially coupled experiments, in which the contribution from direct CO2 effects (i.e., the response in the absence of wind change) and wind feedbacks can be isolated from each other. Results indicate that both the direct CO2 and wind effects contribute to the enhancement in the SST seasonal cycle, with the former (latter) being more important in the Northern Hemisphere (Southern Hemisphere). Further decomposition of the wind effect into the wind stress feedback and wind speed feedback reveals the importance of the wind stress–driven ocean response in the change of SST seasonal cycle, a result in contrast to a previous study that ascribed the midlatitude SST seasonal cycle change to the thermodynamic wind speed feedback. The direct CO2 effect regulates the SST seasonal cycle through the warming-induced shoaling in the annual mean mixed layer depth (MLD) as well as the MLD difference between winter and summer. Moreover, the surface wind seasonal cycle changes due solely to the direct CO2 effect are found to bear a great resemblance to the full wind response, suggesting that the root cause for the enhancement of the midlatitude SST seasonal cycle resides in the direct CO2 effect. This notion is further supported by an ocean-alone experiment that reproduces the SST seasonal cycle enhancement under a spatially and temporally homogeneous surface thermal forcing.

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Yi-Hsuan Chen
,
Xianglei Huang
,
Xiuhong Chen
, and
Mark Flanner

Abstract

This study quantifies the impact of the inclusion of realistic surface spectral emissivity in the Sahara and Sahel on the simulated local climate and beyond. The surface emissivity in these regions can be as low as 0.6–0.7 over the infrared window band while close to unity in other spectral bands, but such spectral dependence has been ignored in current climate models. Realistic surface spectral emissivities over the Sahara and Sahel are incorporated into the Community Earth System Model (CESM) version 1.1.1, while treatments of surface emissivity for the rest of the globe remain unchanged. Both the modified and standard CESM are then forced with prescribed climatological SSTs and fixed present-day forcings for 35-yr simulations. The outputs from the last 30 years are analyzed. Compared to the standard CESM, the modified CESM has warmer surface air temperature, as well as a warmer and wetter planetary boundary layer over the Sahara and Sahel. The modified CESM thus favors more convection in these regions and has more convective rainfall, especially in the Sahara. The moisture convergence induced by such inclusion of surface spectral emissivity also contributes to the differences in simulated precipitation in the Sahel and the region south to it. Compared to observations, inclusion of surface spectral emissivity reduces surface temperature biases in the Sahara and precipitation biases in the Gulf of Guinea but exacerbates the wet biases in the Sahara. Such realistic representation of surface spectral emissivity can help unmask other factors contributing to regional biases in the original CESM.

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