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Peter Hamilton, Jimmy C. Larsen, Kevin D. Leaman, Thomas N. Lee, and Evans Waddell

Abstract

Transports were calculated for four sections of the Florida Current from Key West to Jupiter, Florida, using a moored current-meter array and voltages from cross-channel telephone cables at the western and northern ends of the Straits of Florida. In addition, moored arrays were used to estimate transport through the Northwest Providence, Santaren, and Old Bahama Channels that connect the Florida Current to the southwestern part of the North Atlantic Ocean. Transport measurements were obtained for an 11-month period from December 1990 to November 1991. Mean transports of ∼25 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) for the flow across the western ends of the straits, which agree quite well with recent estimates of 23.8 ± 1 Sv entering the Gulf of Mexico through the Yucatan Channel, were obtained from both the Key West to Havana cable and the moored array. This estimate is about 5 Sv less than the generally accepted transport through the northern end of the straits at 27°N. This difference was partially accounted for by inflows through the side channels with more transport from the Old Bahama than the Northwest Providence Channel. The variability in the southern part of the straits was larger than at 27°N and included large diversions of the Florida Current south of the Cay Sal Bank and into the Santaren Channel that were caused by large meanders of the flow. The variability of transport in the side channels contributed to the variability of the Florida Current and reduces the correlations of the transports at the ends of the straits. Therefore, the well-measured transport at 27°N is not an accurate indicator of the transport of the Loop Current out of the Gulf of Mexico.

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Axel Lauer, Kevin Hamilton, Yuqing Wang, Vaughan T. J. Phillips, and Ralf Bennartz

Abstract

Cloud simulations and cloud–climate feedbacks in the tropical and subtropical eastern Pacific region in 16 state-of-the-art coupled global climate models (GCMs) and in the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) Regional Atmospheric Model (iRAM) are examined. The authors find that the simulation of the present-day mean cloud climatology for this region in the GCMs is very poor and that the cloud–climate feedbacks vary widely among the GCMs. By contrast, iRAM simulates mean clouds and interannual cloud variations that are quite similar to those observed in this region. The model also simulates well the observed relationship between lower-tropospheric stability (LTS) and low-level cloud amount.

To investigate cloud–climate feedbacks in iRAM, several global warming scenarios were run with boundary conditions appropriate for late twenty-first-century conditions. All the global warming cases simulated with iRAM show a distinct reduction in low-level cloud amount, particularly in the stratocumulus regime, resulting in positive local feedback parameters in these regions in the range of 4–7 W m−2 K−1. Domain-averaged (30°S–30°N, 150°–60°W) feedback parameters from iRAM range between +1.8 and +1.9 W m−2 K−1. At most locations both the LTS and cloud amount are altered in the global warming cases, but the changes in these variables do not follow the empirical relationship found in the present-day experiments.

The cloud–climate feedback averaged over the same east Pacific region was also calculated from the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A1B simulations for each of the 16 GCMs with results that varied from −1.0 to +1.3 W m−2 K−1, all less than the values obtained in the comparable iRAM simulations. The iRAM results by themselves cannot be connected definitively to global climate feedbacks; however, among the global GCMs the cloud feedback in the full tropical–subtropical zone is correlated strongly with the east Pacific cloud feedback, and the cloud feedback largely determines the global climate sensitivity. The present iRAM results for cloud feedbacks in the east Pacific provide some support for the high end of current estimates of global climate sensitivity.

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Mark P. Baldwin, Thomas Birner, Guy Brasseur, John Burrows, Neal Butchart, Rolando Garcia, Marvin Geller, Lesley Gray, Kevin Hamilton, Nili Harnik, Michaela I. Hegglin, Ulrike Langematz, Alan Robock, Kaoru Sato, and Adam A. Scaife

Abstract

The stratosphere contains ~17% of Earth’s atmospheric mass, but its existence was unknown until 1902. In the following decades our knowledge grew gradually as more observations of the stratosphere were made. In 1913 the ozone layer, which protects life from harmful ultraviolet radiation, was discovered. From ozone and water vapor observations, a first basic idea of a stratospheric general circulation was put forward. Since the 1950s our knowledge of the stratosphere and mesosphere has expanded rapidly, and the importance of this region in the climate system has become clear. With more observations, several new stratospheric phenomena have been discovered: the quasi-biennial oscillation, sudden stratospheric warmings, the Southern Hemisphere ozone hole, and surface weather impacts of stratospheric variability. None of these phenomena were anticipated by theory. Advances in theory have more often than not been prompted by unexplained phenomena seen in new stratospheric observations. From the 1960s onward, the importance of dynamical processes and the coupled stratosphere–troposphere circulation was realized. Since approximately 2000, better representations of the stratosphere—and even the mesosphere—have been included in climate and weather forecasting models. We now know that in order to produce accurate seasonal weather forecasts, and to predict long-term changes in climate and the future evolution of the ozone layer, models with a well-resolved stratosphere with realistic dynamics and chemistry are necessary.

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William Randel, Petra Udelhofen, Eric Fleming, Marvin Geller, Mel Gelman, Kevin Hamilton, David Karoly, Dave Ortland, Steve Pawson, Richard Swinbank, Fei Wu, Mark Baldwin, Marie-Lise Chanin, Philippe Keckhut, Karin Labitzke, Ellis Remsberg, Adrian Simmons, and Dong Wu

Abstract

An updated assessment of uncertainties in “observed” climatological winds and temperatures in the middle atmosphere (over altitudes ∼10–80 km) is provided by detailed intercomparisons of contemporary and historic datasets. These datasets include global meteorological analyses and assimilations, climatologies derived from research satellite measurements, historical reference atmosphere circulation statistics, rocketsonde wind and temperature data, and lidar temperature measurements. The comparisons focus on a few basic circulation statistics (temperatures and zonal winds), with special attention given to tropical variability. Notable differences are found between analyses for temperatures near the tropical tropopause and polar lower stratosphere, temperatures near the global stratopause, and zonal winds throughout the Tropics. Comparisons of historical reference atmosphere and rocketsonde temperatures with more recent global analyses show the influence of decadal-scale cooling of the stratosphere and mesosphere. Detailed comparisons of the tropical semiannual oscillation (SAO) and quasi- biennial oscillation (QBO) show large differences in amplitude between analyses; recent data assimilation schemes show the best agreement with equatorial radiosonde, rocket, and satellite data.

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