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Changlin Chen, Guihua Wang, Shang-Ping Xie, and Wei Liu

ABSTRACT

The Kuroshio and Gulf Stream, the subtropical western boundary currents of the North Pacific and North Atlantic, play important roles in meridional heat transport and ocean–atmosphere interaction processes. Using a multimodel ensemble of future projections, we show that a warmer climate intensifies the upper-layer Kuroshio, in contrast to the previously documented slowdown of the Gulf Stream. Our ocean general circulation model experiments show that the sea surface warming, not the wind change, is the dominant forcing that causes the upper-layer Kuroshio to intensify in a warming climate. Forced by the sea surface warming, ocean subduction and advection processes result in a stronger warming to the east of the Kuroshio than to the west, which increases the isopycnal slope across the Kuroshio, and hence intensifies the Kuroshio. In the North Atlantic, the Gulf Stream slows down as part of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) response to surface salinity decrease in the high latitudes under global warming. The distinct responses of the Gulf Stream and Kuroshio to climate warming are accompanied by different regional patterns of sea level rise. While the sea level rise accelerates along the northeastern U.S. coast as the AMOC weakens, it remains close to the global mean rate along the East Asian coast as the intensifying Kuroshio is associated with the enhanced sea level rise offshore in the North Pacific subtropical gyre.

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Xin-Zhong Liang, Wei-Chyung Wang, and Michael P. Dudek

Abstract

Observed and general circulation climate model (GCM) simulated interannual teleconnection patterns in the Northern Hemisphere are compared on a monthly basis. The study was based on 1946–1991 observations and two separate 100-year simulations corresponding to the present climate and a greenhouse warming climate. The teleconnection patterns are characterized by action centers and composite extreme anomaly (CEA) distributions. The definition and comparison of observed and simulated patterns include examination of time persistence, spatial coherence as well as consistent signatures between 500-mb height, sea level pressure, and surface air temperature.

For the present climate simulation, the GCM reproduces observed spatial and temporal variations of the action centers of four principal teleconnection patterns: the North Atlantic oscillation, the North Pacific oscillation, the Pacific/North American pattern, and the Eurasian pattern. Substantial model biases exist in the magnitude, regional structure as well as monthly transition of anomalies. The CEA regional characteristics are better simulated over land than over the oceans. For example, the model most accurately simulates the Eurasian pattern, which has its dominant action centers over Eurasia. In addition, all three climate variables exhibit substantial anomalies for each land-based action center. In contrast, over the oceans, the model systematically underestimates sea level pressure and 500-mb height CEAs, while it produces small surface temperature responses. It is suggested that atmospheric dynamics associated with flow instability is likely to be the dominant mechanism that generates these teleconnections, while the lack of interactive ocean dynamics may be responsible for small responses over the oceans.

In the greenhouse warming climate, the GCM continues to simulate the four interannual teleconnection patterns. Systematic changes, however, are found for the Pacific/North American and Eurasian patterns in winter, where the action centers shift to the east and the CEAs weaken over land. These results must be considered to be exploratory because of the use of a mixed layer ocean that does not include oceanic dynamics.

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Arthur N. Samel, Wei-Chyung Wang, and Xin-Zhong Liang

Abstract

Yearly variations in the observed initial and final dates of heavy, persistent monsoon rainband precipitation across China are quantified. The development of a semiobjective analysis that identifies these values also makes it possible to calculate annual rainband duration and total rainfall. Relationships between total rainband precipitation and the Eurasian circulation are then determined. This research is designed such that observed rainband characteristics can be used in future investigations to evaluate GCM simulations.

Normalized daily precipitation time series are analyzed between 1951 and 1990 for 85 observation stations to develop criteria that describe general rainband characteristics throughout China. Rainfall is defined to be “heavy” if the daily value at a given location is greater than 1.5% of the annual mean total. Heavy precipitation is then shown to be “persistent” and is thus identified with the rainband when the 1.5% threshold is exceeded at least 6 times in a 25-day period. Finally, rainband initial (final) dates are defined to immediately follow (precede) a minimum period of 5 consecutive days with no measurable precipitation. A semiobjective analysis based on the above definitions and rainband climatology is then applied to the time series to determine annual initial and final dates.

Analysis application produces results that closely correspond to the systematic pattern observed across China, where the rainband arrives in the south during May, advances to the Yangtze River valley in June, and then to the north in July. Rainband duration (i.e., final − initial + 1) is approximately 30–40 days while total rainfall decreases from south to north. A significant positive correlation is found between total rainfall and duration interannual variability, where increased rainband precipitation corresponds to initial (final) dates that are anomalously early (late). No clear trends are identified except over north China, where both duration and total rainfall decrease substantially after 1967.

The Eurasian sea level pressure and 500-hPa height fields are then correlated with total rainfall over south China, the Yangtze River valley, and north China to identify statistically significant relationships. Results indicate that precipitation amount is influenced by the interaction of several circulation features. Total rainfall increases over south China when the surface Siberian high ridges to the south and is overrun by warm moist air aloft. Yangtze River valley precipitation intensifies when westward expansion of the subtropical high along with strengthening of the Siberian high and monsoon low cause moisture advection, upward motion, and the thermal gradient along the Mei-Yu front to increase. North China total rainfall increases in response to intense heating over the landmass, westward ridging of the subtropical high, and greater moisture transport over the region.

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Michael P. Dudek, Xin-Zhong Liang, and Wei-Chyung Wang

Abstract

The scale dependence of cloud-radiation interaction associated with the parameterizations for fractional cloudiness and radiation used in a global climate model is studied by examining the averages, for different spatial scales, of detailed structure of cloudiness and radiation simulated from a regional climate model that incorporates these parameterizations. The regional model simulation is conducted over an area about (360 km)2 located on the southern Great Plains for the period 10–17 April 1994 during which both satellite and surface measurements of radiation fluxes and clouds are available from the Intensive Observing Period of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program. The area corresponds approximately to one gridpoint size of a global climate model with horizontal resolution T31.

The regional model simulates well the overall cloud and radiation temporal features when averaged over the entire region. However, specific biases exist in the spatial patterns such as the high clouds, the TOA upwelling solar radiation under cloudy conditions, and the net longwave surface flux under clear conditions at night. The cloud and radiation parameterizations are found to be sensitive to the spatial scale of the computation. The diagnosed total cloudiness shows a strong horizontal resolution dependence that leads to large changes in the surface and TOA radiation budgets. An additional experiment, in which the diagnosed cloud at each level is held constant while the radiation parameterization is recalculated, still produces a substantial sensitivity to spatial scale in the calculated radiation quantities. This is because the nature of the cloud vertical overlapping assumption changes as the horizontal scale of the computation varies.

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David A. Portman, Wei-Chyung Wang, and Thomas R. Karl

Abstract

Validation of general circulation model (GCM) current climate simulations is important for further GCM development and application to climate change studies. So far, studies that compare GCM output with observations have focused primarily on large-scale spatial averages of the surface climate variables. Here we discuss two approaches to compare output of individual GCM grid boxes with local station observations near the surface and in the free troposphere. The first approach, proposed by Chervin, involves the application of standard parametric statistical analysis and hypothesis testing procedures. The second approach is nonparametric in the sense that no ideal distributions are postulated a priori to ascertain significance of the difference of mean temperature or the ratio of the temperature variance between model grid boxes and local stations. Instead, station observations are first subjected to a bootstrap technique and then used to define a unique set of distributions and confidence limits for each GCM grid box.

To demonstrate the usefulness of the two approaches, we compare daily and seasonal gridbox temperatures simulated by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Climate Model (CCM1) with station temperatures at the surface, 850-mb, 500-mb, and 300-mb levels for three different areas in the United States. We find that although CCM1 gridbox temperatures are mostly cooler than station temperatures, they are equally variable. For all grid boxes, gridbox-to-station differences decrease with height and vary with time of year. We conclude that the techniques presented here can provide useful comparisons of GCM regional and local observed temperatures. Application to other variables and GCMs is also discussed.

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Yaru Guo, Yuanlong Li, Fan Wang, Yuntao Wei, and Zengrui Rong

Abstract

A high-resolution (3–8 km) regional oceanic general circulation model is utilized to understand the sea surface temperature (SST) variability of Ningaloo Niño in the southeast Indian Ocean (SEIO). The model reproduces eight Ningaloo Niño events with good fidelity and reveals complicated spatial structures. Mesoscale noises are seen in the warming signature and confirmed by satellite microwave SST data. Model experiments are carried out to quantitatively evaluate the effects of key processes. The results reveal that the surface turbulent heat flux (primarily latent heat flux) is the most important process (contribution > 68%) in driving and damping the SST warming for most events, while the roles of the Indonesian Throughflow (~15%) and local wind forcing are secondary. A suitable air temperature warming is essential to reproducing the reduced surface latent heat loss during the growth of SST warming (~66%), whereas the effect of the increased air humidity is negligibly small (1%). The established SST warming in the mature phase causes increased latent heat loss that initiates the decay of warming. A 20-member ensemble simulation is performed for the 2010/11 super Ningaloo Niño, which confirms the strong influence of ocean internal processes in the redistribution of SST warming signatures. Oceanic eddies can dramatically modulate the magnitudes of local SST warming, particularly in offshore areas where the “signal-to-noise” ratio is low, raising a caution for evaluating the predictability of Ningaloo Niño and its environmental consequences.

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William J. Gutowski Jr., David S. Gutzler, and Wei-Chyung Wang

Abstract

We examine surface energy balances simulated by three general circulation models for current climatic boundary conditions and for an atmosphere with twice current levels of CO2. Differences between model simulations provide a measure of uncertainty in the prediction of surface temperature in a double-CO2 climate, and diagnosis of the energy balance suggests the radiative and thermodynamic processes responsible for these differences. The scale dependence of the surface energy balance is examined by averaging over a hierarchy of spatial domains ranging from the entire globe to regions encompassing just a few model grid points.

Upward and downward longwave fluxes are the dominant terms in the global-average balance for each model and climate. The models product nearly the same global-average surface temperature in their current climate simulations, so their upward longwave fluxes are nearly the same, but in the global-average balance their downward longwave fluxes, absorbed solar radiation, and sensible and latent heat fluxes have intermodel discrepancies that are larger than respective flux changes associated with doubling CO2. Despite the flux discrepancies, the globally averaged surface flux changes associated with CO2 doubling are qualitatively consistent among the models, suggesting that the basic large-scale mechanisms of greenhouse warming are not very sensitive to the precise surface balance of heat occurring in a model's current climate simulation.

The net longwave flux at the surface has small spatial variability, so global-average discrepancies in surface longwave fluxes are also manifested in the regional-scale balances. For this reason, increasing horizontal resolution will not improve the consistency of regional-scale climate simulations in these models unless discrepancies in global-average longwave radiation are resolved. Differences between models in simulating effects of moisture in the atmosphere and in the ground appear to be an important cause of differences in surface energy budgets on all scales.

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Wei Wu, Zhiping Wen, Renguang Wu, and Tongmei Wang

Abstract

In the present study, monthly mean objectively analyzed air–sea fluxes (OAFlux) and NCEP–Department of Energy (DOE) reanalysis datasets are employed to investigate air–sea interaction over the subtropical North Pacific during the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) transition phase. A coupled low-frequency mode is identified, for which surface net heat flux and atmospheric circulation changes are strongly coupled during the ENSO transition phase. This mode features anomalous cooling (warming) and low-level anomalous cyclonic (anticyclonic) circulation over the subtropical North Pacific. When this mode is prominent, the atmospheric circulation anomalies lead to SST cooling (warming) through surface heat flux anomalies associated with increases (decreases) in the sea–air temperature and humidity differences induced by anomalous cold (warm) advection. In turn, positive heat flux anomalies induce more surface heating, and the SST cooling (warming) causes less (more) deep convective heating. The anomalous surface heating and deep convective heating contribute significantly to anomalous circulation through the thermal adaptation mechanism (adaptation of atmospheric circulation to vertical differential heating). This positive feedback favors the maintenance of these anomalous winds over the subtropical North Pacific.

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Chia-Chi Wang, Wei-Liang Lee, and Chia Chou

ABSTRACT

Aerosols are one of the key factors influencing the hydrological cycle and radiation balance of the climate system. Although most aerosols deposit near their sources, the induced cooling effect is on a global scale and can influence the tropical atmosphere through slow processes, such as air–sea interactions. This study analyzes several simulations of fully coupled atmosphere–ocean climate models under the influence of anthropogenic aerosols, with the concentrations of greenhouse gases kept constant. In the cooling simulations, precipitation is reduced in deep convective areas but increased around the edges of convective areas, which is opposite to the “rich-get-richer” phenomenon in global warming scenarios in the first-order approximation. Tropical convection is intensified with a shallower depth, and tropical circulations are enhanced. The anomalous gross moist stability (M′) mechanism and the upped-ante mechanism can be used to explain the dynamic and thermodynamic processes in the changes in tropical precipitation and convection. There is a northward cross-equatorial energy transport due to the cooler Northern Hemisphere in most of the simulations, together with the southward shift of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) and the enhancement of the Hadley circulation. The enhancement of the Hadley circulation is more consistent between models than the changes of the Walker circulation. The change in the Hadley circulation is not as negligible as in the warming cases in previous studies, which supports the consistency of the ITCZ shift in cooling simulations.

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Wei Mei, Shang-Ping Xie, Ming Zhao, and Yuqing Wang

Abstract

Forced interannual-to-decadal variability of annual tropical cyclone (TC) track density in the western North Pacific between 1979 and 2008 is studied using TC tracks from observations and simulations by a 25-km-resolution version of the GFDL High-Resolution Atmospheric Model (HiRAM) that is forced by observed sea surface temperatures (SSTs). Two modes dominate the decadal variability: a nearly basinwide mode, and a dipole mode between the subtropics and lower latitudes. The former mode links to variations in TC number and is forced by SST variations over the off-equatorial tropical central North Pacific, whereas the latter might be associated with the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation. The interannual variability is also controlled by two modes: a basinwide mode driven by SST anomalies of opposite signs located in the tropical central Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean, and a southeast–northwest dipole mode connected to the conventional eastern Pacific ENSO. The seasonal evolution of the ENSO effect on TC activity is further explored via a joint empirical orthogonal function analysis using TC track density of consecutive seasons, and the analysis reveals that two types of ENSO are at work. Internal variability in TC track density is then examined using ensemble simulations from both HiRAM and a regional atmospheric model. It exhibits prominent spatial and seasonal patterns, and it is particularly strong in the South China Sea and along the coast of East Asia. This makes an accurate prediction and projection of TC landfall extremely challenging in these regions. In contrast, basin-integrated metrics (e.g., total TC counts and TC days) are more predictable.

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