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Feng Li, Yury V. Vikhliaev, Paul A. Newman, Steven Pawson, Judith Perlwitz, Darryn W. Waugh, and Anne R. Douglass

Abstract

Stratospheric ozone depletion plays a major role in driving climate change in the Southern Hemisphere. To date, many climate models prescribe the stratospheric ozone layer’s evolution using monthly and zonally averaged ozone fields. However, the prescribed ozone underestimates Antarctic ozone depletion and lacks zonal asymmetries. This study investigates the impact of using interactive stratospheric chemistry instead of prescribed ozone on climate change simulations of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean. Two sets of 1960–2010 ensemble transient simulations are conducted with the coupled ocean version of the Goddard Earth Observing System Model, version 5: one with interactive stratospheric chemistry and the other with prescribed ozone derived from the same interactive simulations. The model’s climatology is evaluated using observations and reanalysis. Comparison of the 1979–2010 climate trends between these two simulations reveals that interactive chemistry has important effects on climate change not only in the Antarctic stratosphere, troposphere, and surface, but also in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic sea ice. Interactive chemistry causes stronger Antarctic lower stratosphere cooling and circumpolar westerly acceleration during November–January. It enhances stratosphere–troposphere coupling and leads to significantly larger tropospheric and surface westerly changes. The significantly stronger surface wind stress trends cause larger increases of the Southern Ocean meridional overturning circulation, leading to year-round stronger ocean warming near the surface and enhanced Antarctic sea ice decrease.

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Seok-Woo Son, Lorenzo M. Polvani, Darryn W. Waugh, Thomas Birner, Hideharu Akiyoshi, Rolando R. Garcia, Andrew Gettelman, David A. Plummer, and Eugene Rozanov

Abstract

The evolution of the tropopause in the past, present, and future climate is examined by analyzing a set of long-term integrations with stratosphere-resolving chemistry climate models (CCMs). These CCMs have high vertical resolution near the tropopause, a model top located in the mesosphere or above, and, most important, fully interactive stratospheric chemistry. Using such CCM integrations, it is found that the tropopause pressure (height) will continue to decrease (increase) in the future, but with a trend weaker than that in the recent past. The reduction in the future tropopause trend is shown to be directly associated with stratospheric ozone recovery. A significant ozone recovery occurs in the Southern Hemisphere lower stratosphere of the CCMs, and this leads to a relative warming there that reduces the tropopause trend in the twenty-first century.

The future tropopause trends predicted by the CCMs are considerably smaller than those predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) models, especially in the southern high latitudes. This difference persists even when the CCMs are compared with the subset of the AR4 model integrations for which stratospheric ozone recovery was prescribed. These results suggest that a realistic representation of the stratospheric processes might be important for a reliable estimate of tropopause trends. The implications of these finding for the Southern Hemisphere climate change are also discussed.

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Kevin M. Grise, Sean M. Davis, Isla R. Simpson, Darryn W. Waugh, Qiang Fu, Robert J. Allen, Karen H. Rosenlof, Caroline C. Ummenhofer, Kristopher B. Karnauskas, Amanda C. Maycock, Xiao-Wei Quan, Thomas Birner, and Paul W. Staten

Abstract

Previous studies have documented a poleward shift in the subsiding branches of Earth’s Hadley circulation since 1979 but have disagreed on the causes of these observed changes and the ability of global climate models to capture them. This synthesis paper reexamines a number of contradictory claims in the past literature and finds that the tropical expansion indicated by modern reanalyses is within the bounds of models’ historical simulations for the period 1979–2005. Earlier conclusions that models were underestimating the observed trends relied on defining the Hadley circulation using the mass streamfunction from older reanalyses. The recent observed tropical expansion has similar magnitudes in the annual mean in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) and Southern Hemisphere (SH), but models suggest that the factors driving the expansion differ between the hemispheres. In the SH, increasing greenhouse gases (GHGs) and stratospheric ozone depletion contributed to tropical expansion over the late twentieth century, and if GHGs continue increasing, the SH tropical edge is projected to shift further poleward over the twenty-first century, even as stratospheric ozone concentrations recover. In the NH, the contribution of GHGs to tropical expansion is much smaller and will remain difficult to detect in a background of large natural variability, even by the end of the twenty-first century. To explain similar recent tropical expansion rates in the two hemispheres, natural variability must be taken into account. Recent coupled atmosphere–ocean variability, including the Pacific decadal oscillation, has contributed to tropical expansion. However, in models forced with observed sea surface temperatures, tropical expansion rates still vary widely because of internal atmospheric variability.

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Paul W. Staten, Kevin M. Grise, Sean M. Davis, Kristopher B. Karnauskas, Darryn W. Waugh, Amanda C. Maycock, Qiang Fu, Kerry Cook, Ori Adam, Isla R. Simpson, Robert J Allen, Karen Rosenlof, Gang Chen, Caroline C. Ummenhofer, Xiao-Wei Quan, James P. Kossin, Nicholas A. Davis, and Seok-Woo Son

Abstract

Over the past 15 years, numerous studies have suggested that the sinking branches of Earth’s Hadley circulation and the associated subtropical dry zones have shifted poleward over the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century. Early estimates of this tropical widening from satellite observations and reanalyses varied from 0.25° to 3° latitude per decade, while estimates from global climate models show widening at the lower end of the observed range. In 2016, two working groups, the U.S. Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) working group on the Changing Width of the Tropical Belt and the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) Tropical Width Diagnostics Intercomparison Project, were formed to synthesize current understanding of the magnitude, causes, and impacts of the recent tropical widening evident in observations. These working groups concluded that the large rates of observed tropical widening noted by earlier studies resulted from their use of metrics that poorly capture changes in the Hadley circulation, or from the use of reanalyses that contained spurious trends. Accounting for these issues reduces the range of observed expansion rates to 0.25°–0.5° latitude decade‒1—within the range from model simulations. Models indicate that most of the recent Northern Hemisphere tropical widening is consistent with natural variability, whereas increasing greenhouse gases and decreasing stratospheric ozone likely played an important role in Southern Hemisphere widening. Whatever the cause or rate of expansion, understanding the regional impacts of tropical widening requires additional work, as different forcings can produce different regional patterns of widening.

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