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Lijing Cheng, Kevin E. Trenberth, Nicolas Gruber, John P. Abraham, John T. Fasullo, Guancheng Li, Michael E. Mann, Xuanming Zhao, and Jiang Zhu

Abstract

Ocean salinity records the hydrological cycle and its changes, but data scarcity and the large changes in sampling make the reconstructions of long-term salinity changes challenging. Here, we present a new observational estimate of changes in ocean salinity since 1960 from the surface to 2000 m. We overcome some of the inconsistencies present in existing salinity reconstructions by using an interpolation technique that uses information on the spatiotemporal covariability of salinity taken from model simulations. The interpolation technique is comprehensively evaluated using recent Argo-dominated observations through subsample tests. The new product strengthens previous findings that ocean surface and subsurface salinity contrasts have increased (i.e., the existing salinity pattern has amplified). We quantify this contrast by assessing the difference between the salinity in regions of high and low salinity averaged over the top 2000 m, a metric we refer to as SC2000. The increase in SC2000 is highly distinguishable from the sampling error and less affected by interannual variability and sampling error than if this metric was computed just for the surface. SC2000 increased by 1.9% ± 0.6% from 1960 to 1990 and by 3.3% ± 0.4% from 1991 to 2017 (5.2% ± 0.4% for 1960–2017), indicating an acceleration of the pattern amplification in recent decades. Combining this estimate with model simulations, we show that the change in SC2000 since 1960 emerges clearly as an anthropogenic signal from the natural variability. Based on the salinity-contrast metrics and model simulations, we find a water cycle amplification of 2.6% ± 4.4% K−1 since 1960, with the larger error than salinity metric mainly being due to model uncertainty.

Open access
Dimitris A. Herrera, Toby R. Ault, Carlos M. Carrillo, John T. Fasullo, Xiaolu Li, Colin P. Evans, Marc J. Alessi, and Natalie M. Mahowald

Abstract

Climate models consistently project a significant drying in the Caribbean during climate change, and between 2013 and 2016 the region experienced the worst multiyear drought in the historical period. Although dynamical mechanisms have been proposed to explain drought in the Caribbean, the contributions from mass convergence and advection to precipitation minus evaporation (PE) anomalies during drought are unknown. Here we analyze the dynamics of contemporaneous droughts in the Caribbean by decomposing the contributions of mass convergence and advection to PE using observational and simulated data. We find that droughts arise from an anomalous subsidence over the southeastern Caribbean and northeastern South America. Although the contributions from mass convergence and advection vary across the region, it is mass convergence that is the main driver of drought in our study area. A similar dynamical pattern is observed in simulated droughts using the Community Earth System Model (CESM) Large Ensemble (LENS).

Open access
Samantha Stevenson, Jonathan T. Overpeck, John Fasullo, Sloan Coats, Luke Parsons, Bette Otto-Bliesner, Toby Ault, Garrison Loope, and Julia Cole

Abstract

Multidecadal hydroclimate variability has been expressed as “megadroughts” (dry periods more severe and prolonged than observed over the twentieth century) and corresponding “megapluvial” wet periods in many regions around the world. The risk of such events is strongly affected by modes of coupled atmosphere–ocean variability and by external impacts on climate. Accurately assessing the mechanisms for these interactions is difficult, since it requires large ensembles of millennial simulations as well as long proxy time series. Here, the Community Earth System Model (CESM) Last Millennium Ensemble is used to examine statistical associations among megaevents, coupled climate modes, and forcing from major volcanic eruptions. El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) strongly affects hydroclimate extremes: larger ENSO amplitude reduces megadrought risk and persistence in the southwestern United States, the Sahel, monsoon Asia, and Australia, with corresponding increases in Mexico and the Amazon. The Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) also alters megadrought risk, primarily in the Caribbean and the Amazon. Volcanic influences are felt primarily through enhancing AMO amplitude, as well as alterations in the structure of both ENSO and AMO teleconnections, which lead to differing manifestations of megadrought. These results indicate that characterizing hydroclimate variability requires an improved understanding of both volcanic climate impacts and variations in ENSO/AMO teleconnections.

Full access
Seiji Kato, Norman G. Loeb, John T. Fasullo, Kevin E. Trenberth, Peter H. Lauritzen, Fred G. Rose, David A. Rutan, and Masaki Satoh

Abstract

Effects of water mass imbalance and hydrometeor transport on the enthalpy flux and water phase on diabatic heating rate in computing the regional energy and water budget of the atmosphere over ocean are investigated. Equations of energy and water budget of the atmospheric column that explicitly consider the velocity of liquid and ice cloud particles, and rain and snow are formulated by separating water variables from dry air. Differences of energy budget equations formulated in this study from those used in earlier studies are that 1) diabatic heating rate depends on water phase, 2) diabatic heating due to net condensation of nonprecipitating hydrometeors is included, and 3) hydrometeors can be advected with a different velocity from the dry-air velocity. Convergence of water vapor associated with phase change and horizontal transport of hydrometeors is to increase diabatic heating in the atmospheric column where hydrometeors are formed and exported and to reduce energy where hydrometeors are imported and evaporated. The process can improve the regional energy and water mass balance when energy data products are integrated. Effects of enthalpy transport associated with water mass transport through the surface are cooling to the atmosphere and warming to the ocean when the enthalpy is averaged over the global ocean. There is no net effect to the atmosphere and ocean columns combined. While precipitation phase changes the regional diabatic heating rate up to 15 W m−2, the dependence of the global mean value on the temperature threshold of melting snow to form rain is less than 1 W m−2.

Open access
Simone Tilmes, Jadwiga H. Richter, Ben Kravitz, Douglas G. MacMartin, Michael J. Mills, Isla R. Simpson, Anne S. Glanville, John T. Fasullo, Adam S. Phillips, Jean-Francois Lamarque, Joseph Tribbia, Jim Edwards, Sheri Mickelson, and Siddhartha Ghosh

Abstract

This paper describes the Stratospheric Aerosol Geoengineering Large Ensemble (GLENS) project, which promotes the use of a unique model dataset, performed with the Community Earth System Model, with the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model as its atmospheric component [CESM1(WACCM)], to investigate global and regional impacts of geoengineering. The performed simulations were designed to achieve multiple simultaneous climate goals, by strategically placing sulfur injections at four different locations in the stratosphere, unlike many earlier studies that targeted globally averaged surface temperature by placing injections in regions at or around the equator. This advanced approach reduces some of the previously found adverse effects of stratospheric aerosol geoengineering, including uneven cooling between the poles and the equator and shifts in tropical precipitation. The 20-member ensemble increases the ability to distinguish between forced changes and changes due to climate variability in global and regional climate variables in the coupled atmosphere, land, sea ice, and ocean system. We invite the broader community to perform in-depth analyses of climate-related impacts and to identify processes that lead to changes in the climate system as the result of a strategic application of stratospheric aerosol geoengineering.

Open access