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John C. Fyfe and Oleg A. Saenko

Abstract

Global climate models indicate that the poleward shift of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current observed over recent decades may have been significantly human induced. The poleward shift, along with a significant increase in the transport of water around Antarctica, is predicted to continue into the future. To appreciate the magnitude of the poleward shift it is noted that by century’s end the concomitant shrinking of the Southern Ocean is predicted to displace a volume of water close to that in the entire Arctic Ocean. A simple theory, balancing surface Ekman drift and ocean eddy mixing, explains these changes as the oceanic response to changing wind stress.

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C. M. Bitz, John C. Fyfe, and Gregory M. Flato

Abstract

The Arctic surface circulation simulated by atmospheric general circulation models is assessed in the context of driving sea ice motion. A sea ice model is forced by geostrophic winds from eight models participating in the first Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP1), and the results are compared to simulations with the sea ice model forced by observed winds. The mean sea level pressure in the AMIP models is generally too high over the Arctic Ocean, except in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, where it is too low. This pattern creates anomalous winds that tend to transport too much ice away from the coast of Greenland and the Canadian Archipalego, and into the East Siberian Sea, producing a pattern of ice thickness in the Arctic that is rotated by roughly 180° relative to what is expected based on observations. AMIP winds also drive too little ice transport through Fram Strait and too much transport east of Svalbard by way of the Barents Sea. These errors in ice thickness and transport influence ice growth and melt rates and hence the freshwater flux into the ocean. Sensitivity experiments that test the model response to the wind composition show the ice thickness patterns depend primarily on the climatological mean annual cycle of the geostrophic winds. Daily wind variability is necessary to create sufficient ice deformation and open water, but the sea ice behavior is rather insensitive to the details of the daily variations.

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Fabian Lienert, John C. Fyfe, and William J. Merryfield

Abstract

This study evaluates the ability of global climate models to reproduce observed tropical influences on North Pacific Ocean sea surface temperature variability. In an ensemble of climate models, the study finds that the simulated North Pacific response to El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) forcing is systematically delayed relative to the observed response because of winter and spring mixed layers in the North Pacific that are too deep and air–sea feedbacks that are too weak. Model biases in mixed layer depth and air–sea feedbacks are also associated with a model mean ENSO-related signal in the North Pacific whose amplitude is overestimated by about 30%. The study also shows that simulated North Pacific variability has more power at lower frequencies than is observed because of model errors originating in the tropics and extratropics. Implications of these results for predictions on seasonal, decadal, and longer time scales are discussed.

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Paul Spence, John C. Fyfe, Alvaro Montenegro, and Andrew J. Weaver

Abstract

A global climate model with horizontal resolutions in the ocean ranging from relatively coarse to eddy permitting is used to investigate the resolution dependence of the Southern Ocean response to poleward intensifying winds through the past and present centuries. The higher-resolution simulations show poleward migration of distinct ocean fronts associated with a more highly localized near-surface temperature response than in the lower-resolution simulations. The higher-resolution simulations also show increasing southward eddy heat transport, less high-latitude cooling, and greater sea ice loss than the lower-resolution simulations. For all resolutions, from relatively coarse to eddy permitting, there is poleward migration of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current in the Atlantic and the western half of the Indian basin. Finally, zonal transports associated with the Antarctic Circumpolar Current are shown to be sensitive to resolution, and this is discussed in the context of recent observed change.

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Adam Hugh Monahan, John C. Fyfe, and Lionel Pandolfo

Abstract

A nonlinear generalization of principal component analysis (PCA), denoted nonlinear principal component analysis (NLPCA), is applied to Northern Hemisphere wintertime geopotential heights at 1000, 700, 500, 300, and 20 hPa. It is found that the optimal nonlinear approximation to the data at the four tropospheric levels is characterized by three equivalent-barotropic regimes of circulation. The NLPCA time series provides a kinematic description of variability within the regimes and transitions between them. The occupation frequencies of the regimes demonstrate substantial interannual and interdecadal variability, some of which can be associated with the influence of El Niño–Southern Oscillation. The stratospheric geopotential height field is also characterized by three circulation regimes. Two of these characterize a vacillation of polar vortex shape and polar temperature. The third regime, which is occupied episodically, is characterized by dramatic reductions in the zonal-mean zonal wind and meridional temperature gradient at high latitudes, and is associated with stratospheric sudden warmings. Evidence is presented for a connection between the stratospheric and tropospheric regimes, including an association between stratospheric sudden warmings and North Atlantic blocks. Finally, these results are compared to previous studies of regime structure and to the Arctic Oscillation paradigm.

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Neil C. Swart, John C. Fyfe, Nathan Gillett, and Gareth J. Marshall

Abstract

This paper examines trends in the southern annular mode (SAM) and the strength, position, and width of the Southern Hemisphere surface westerly wind jet in observations, reanalyses, and models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). First the period over 1951–2011 is considered, and it is shown that there are differences in the SAM and jet trends between the CMIP5 models, the Hadley Centre gridded SLP (HadSLP2r) dataset, and the Twentieth Century Reanalysis. The relationships between these trends demonstrate that the SAM index cannot be used to directly infer changes in any one kinematic property of the jet. The spatial structure of the observed trends in SLP and zonal winds is shown to be largest, but also most uncertain, in the southeastern Pacific. To constrain this uncertainty six reanalyses are included and compared with station-based observations of SLP. The CMIP5 mean SLP trends generally agree well with the direct observations, despite some climatological biases, while some reanalyses exhibit spuriously large SLP trends. Similarly, over the more reliable satellite era the spatial pattern of CMIP5 SLP trends is in excellent agreement with HadSLP2r, whereas several reanalyses are not. Then surface winds are compared with a satellite-based product, and it is shown that the CMIP5 mean trend is similar to observations in the core region of the westerlies, but that several reanalyses overestimate recent trends. The authors caution that studies examining the impact of wind changes on the Southern Ocean could be biased by these spuriously large trends in reanalysis products.

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Adam H. Monahan, John C. Fyfe, Maarten H. P. Ambaum, David B. Stephenson, and Gerald R. North

Abstract

Empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis is a powerful tool for data compression and dimensionality reduction used broadly in meteorology and oceanography. Often in the literature, EOF modes are interpreted individually, independent of other modes. In fact, it can be shown that no such attribution can generally be made. This review demonstrates that in general individual EOF modes (i) will not correspond to individual dynamical modes, (ii) will not correspond to individual kinematic degrees of freedom, (iii) will not be statistically independent of other EOF modes, and (iv) will be strongly influenced by the nonlocal requirement that modes maximize variance over the entire domain. The goal of this review is not to argue against the use of EOF analysis in meteorology and oceanography; rather, it is to demonstrate the care that must be taken in the interpretation of individual modes in order to distinguish the medium from the message.

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Adeline Bichet, Paul J. Kushner, Lawrence Mudryk, Laurent Terray, and John C. Fyfe

Abstract

This study seeks to derive the sea surface temperature (SST) response to anthropogenic forcing from observations over the last century, using simple methods inspired from pattern scaling. As in pattern scaling, the spatial response is assumed to scale with global-mean and annual-mean surface temperature. The long-term aim of this work is to generate anthropogenically forced SST and sea ice patterns for the recent past and near-term future, and use them to force atmosphere–land climate models for attribution and prediction purposes. The present work compares estimation methodologies and, within a Monte Carlo framework based on large initial condition ensembles of climate model simulations, examines the robustness of the patterns obtained.

The different methods explored here yield a similar SST spatial response, mostly reflecting the observed SST linear trend map. The different methods nevertheless provide distinctive temporal evolution of the global-mean and annual-mean SST response, which in turn affects the temporal evolution of the global-mean and annual-mean air surface temperature simulated in corresponding prescribed SST simulations. The estimated SST spatial response consists mostly of a warming of the midlatitude coasts near the western boundary currents, the tropical Indian Ocean, and the Arctic Ocean. This pattern generally agrees with previously published observational and modeling studies. Based on Monte Carlo analysis of the large ensembles, it is found that between 36% and 56% of its spatial variance results from anthropogenic forcing.

Overall, the work herein provides constraints on the uncertainty associated with the spatial variability of an anthropogenically forced component of climate change derived from observations, which can potentially be used for climate attribution and prediction.

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John C. Fyfe, Oleg A. Saenko, Kirsten Zickfeld, Michael Eby, and Andrew J. Weaver

Abstract

Recent analyses of the latest series of climate model simulations suggest that increasing CO2 emissions in the atmosphere are partly responsible for (i) the observed poleward shifting and strengthening of the Southern Hemisphere subpolar westerlies (in association with shifting of the southern annular mode toward a higher index state), and (ii) the observed warming of the subsurface Southern Ocean. Here the role that poleward-intensifying westerlies play in subsurface Southern Ocean warming is explored. To this end a climate model of intermediate complexity was driven separately, and in combination with, time-varying CO2 emissions and time-varying surface winds (derived from the fully coupled climate model simulations mentioned above). Experiments suggest that the combination of the direct radiative effect of CO2 emissions and poleward-intensified winds sets the overall magnitude of Southern Ocean warming, and that the poleward-intensified winds are key in terms of determining its latitudinal structure. In particular, changes in wind stress curl associated with poleward-intensified winds significantly enhance pure CO2-induced subsurface warming around 45°S (through increased downwelling of warm surface water), reduces it at higher latitudes (through increased upwelling of cold deep water), and reduces it at lower latitudes (through decreased downwelling of warm surface water). Experiments also support recent high-resolution ocean model experiments suggesting that enhanced mesoscale eddy activity associated with poleward-intensified winds influences subsurface (and surface) warming. In particular, it is found that increased poleward heat transport associated with increased mesoscale eddy activity enhances the warming south of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Finally, a mechanism involving offshore Ekman sea ice transport (modulated by enhanced mesoscale activity) that acts to significantly limit the human-induced high-latitude Southern Hemisphere surface temperature response is reported on.

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William J. Merryfield, Woo-Sung Lee, George J. Boer, Viatcheslav V. Kharin, John F. Scinocca, Gregory M. Flato, R. S. Ajayamohan, John C. Fyfe, Youmin Tang, and Saroja Polavarapu

Abstract

The Canadian Seasonal to Interannual Prediction System (CanSIPS) became operational at Environment Canada's Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC) in December 2011, replacing CMC's previous two-tier system. CanSIPS is a two-model forecasting system that combines ensemble forecasts from the Canadian Centre for Climate Modeling and Analysis (CCCma) Coupled Climate Model, versions 3 and 4 (CanCM3 and CanCM4, respectively). Mean climate as well as climate trends and variability in these models are evaluated in freely running historical simulations. Initial conditions for CanSIPS forecasts are obtained from an ensemble of coupled assimilation runs. These runs assimilate gridded atmospheric analyses by means of a procedure that resembles the incremental analysis update technique, but introduces only a fraction of the analysis increment in order that differences between ensemble members reflect the magnitude of observational uncertainties. The land surface is initialized through its response to the assimilative meteorology, whereas sea ice concentration and sea surface temperature are relaxed toward gridded observational values. The subsurface ocean is initialized through surface forcing provided by the assimilation run, together with an offline variational assimilation of gridded observational temperatures followed by an adjustment of the salinity field to preserve static stability. The performance of CanSIPS historical forecasts initialized every month over the period 1981–2010 is documented in a companion paper. The CanCM4 model and the initialization procedures developed for CanSIPS have been employed as well for decadal forecasts, including those contributing to phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project.

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