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Zhengyu Liu, Na Wen, and Lei Fan

Abstract

Three statistic methods [generalized equilibrium feedback analysis (GEFA), linear inverse modeling (LIM), and fluctuation–dissipation theorem (FDT)] are compared for their assessment of the atmospheric response to sea surface temperature variability in the coupled climate system with a sample length comparable with the observations (decades). The comparison is made first in an idealized coupled model and then in the observations. For daily to pentad data, for a linear stochastic system, the simple model study demonstrates that all three methods are able to provide a consistent assessment of the atmospheric response. For monthly data, GEFA is able to produce an assessment comparable with the daily or pentad assessments using the three methods. The consistence of the three methods is further confirmed in the observations for the responses of the atmospheric geopotential height (at 200 hPa) to the tropical ENSO mode and the North Pacific mode. It is found that the three methods produce a consistent response with the overall pattern correlation over 0.95 and the amplitude difference within 10%–20%. The consistent results in both the simple model and the observations suggest that the three statistical methods can be used as a cross validation on the robustness of the assessment of the atmospheric response to surface forcing in the observations.

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Lixin Wu, Dong Eun Lee, and Zhengyu Liu

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In this study, a new modeling approach is used to look for potential causes of the North Pacific decadal climate regime shift. This new modeling approach is specifically designed to assess not only how changes of the wind-driven ocean circulation induce SST variability, but also the subsequent feedback to climate. Observations appear to indicate that the 1970s North Pacific climate regime shift may be attributed to the coupled ocean–atmosphere interaction over the North Pacific in response to persistent wind stress anomalies in the previous decade. This tends to be supported by modeling results, which suggest that the delayed adjustment of the subtropical ocean circulation may generate sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the western subtropical Pacific that may potentially induce a shift of atmospheric circulation, leading to a change of SST in the central and midlatitude North Pacific. This study appears to unify the recent contradictory views of the roles of ocean circulation in the North Pacific decadal climate variability.

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Haijun Yang, Zhengyu Liu, and Hui Wang

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The equatorial thermocline variability in the Pacific in response to the extratropical thermal and wind forcings is investigated with an ocean general circulation model [Modular Ocean Model, version 3 (MOM3)]. Sensitivity experiments show that the extratropical wind forcing and thermal forcing contribute equally to the equatorial variability. The wind-induced response is attributed to the off-equatorial wind within 30° of the equator; the thermal-induced response can be traced to higher latitudes. The thermal forcing affects the equator mainly through the equatorward transport of the perturbation temperature by mean subduction flow; the wind forcing affects the equator by changing the strength of meridional overturning circulations. It is also found that the Southern Hemisphere contributes more to the equatorial variability than the Northern Hemisphere under both external forcings.

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Peng Wang, Yishuai Jin, and Zhengyu Liu

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In this study, we investigate a diurnal predictability barrier (DPB) for weather predictions using an idealized model and observations. This DPB is referred to a maximum drop of predictability (e.g., autocorrelation) at a particular time of the day, regardless of the initial time. Previous studies demonstrated that a strong seasonal cycle of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) growth rate is responsible for the seasonal predictability barrier of the ENSO in spring. This led us to investigate whether or not a strong diurnal cycle may generate a DPB. We study the DPB using an idealized model, the Lorenz 1963 model (Lorenz63), with the addition of a diurnal cycle. We find that diurnal growth rate can generate a DPB in this chaotic system, regardless of the initial error. Finally, by calculating the autocorrelation function using the hourly data of surface temperature, we explore the DPB at two stations in Wisconsin, USA and Beijing, China. A clear DPB feature is found at both stations. The dramatic drop of predictability at a specific time of the day is likely due to the diurnal variation of the system. This is a new feature that needs further study for short-term weather predictions.

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M. Stephens, Zhengyu Liu, and Haijun Yang

Abstract

The evolution of decadal subduction temperature anomalies in the subtropical North Pacific is studied using a simple and a complex ocean model. It is found that the amplitude of the temperature anomaly decays faster than a passive tracer by about 30%–50%. The faster decay is caused by the divergence of group velocity of the subduction planetary wave, which is contributed to, significantly, by the divergent Sverdrup flow in the subtropical gyre. The temperature anomaly also seems to propagate southward slower than the passive tracer, or mean ventilation flow. This occurs because the mean potential vorticity gradient in the ventilated zone is directed eastward; the associated general beta effect produces a northward propagation for the temperature anomaly, partially canceling the southward advection by the ventilation flow.

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Fuyao Wang, Zhengyu Liu, and Michael Notaro

Abstract

The seasonal impacts of the dominant sea surface temperature (SST) modes to North American climate are assessed comprehensively in observations using the multivariate generalized equilibrium feedback assessment (GEFA) method. The GEFA method is first validated before applying it to observations. Impacts of each individual SST mode are quantified and the associated mechanisms are discussed. Four critical SST modes for North American climate are found: the ENSO mode, Indian Ocean Basin (IOB) mode, North Pacific first empirical orthogonal function (EOF) mode, and tropical Atlantic second EOF mode. The impacts of the ENSO mode are consistent with previous studies qualitatively, while the impact strength is further quantified here. The IOB mode has a strong influence on surface air temperature across North America, and it is demonstrated for the first time that its impact strength might even exceed that of ENSO during both winter and summer. The IOB mode also affects the year-round precipitation. A deeper understanding of the impact of North Pacific SSTs on wintertime surface air temperature is achieved: namely, positive SST anomalies in the Kuroshio Extension region correspond to colder (warmer) air in western (eastern) North America. The tropical Atlantic has a more significant influence on North American precipitation than does the extratropical Atlantic, with colder than normal tropical North Atlantic SSTs supporting wetter conditions across much of the United States, especially during autumn. Because of the linearity of GEFA, the total impacts of multiple SST modes can be obtained by the linear combination of each individual mode's impact. The GEFA method is a potentially powerful tool for seasonal climate prediction.

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Haijun Yang, Yingying Zhao, and Zhengyu Liu

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A coupled box model is used to study the compensation between atmosphere and ocean heat transports. An analytical solution to the Bjerknes compensation (BJC) rate, defined as the ratio of anomalous atmosphere heat transport (AHT) to anomalous ocean heat transport (OHT), is obtained. The BJC rate is determined by local feedback between surface temperature and net heat flux at the top of atmosphere (TOA) and the AHT efficiency. In a stable climate that ensures global energy conservation, the changes between AHT and OHT tend to be always out of phase, and the BJC is always valid. This can be demonstrated when the climate is perturbed by freshwater flux. The BJC in this case exhibits three different behaviors: the anomalous AHT can undercompensate, overcompensate, or perfectly compensate the anomalous OHT, depending on the local feedback. Stronger negative local feedback will result in a lower BJC rate. Stronger positive local feedback will result in a larger overcompensation. If zero climate feedback occurs in the system, the AHT will compensate the OHT perfectly. However, the BJC will fail if the climate system is perturbed by heat flux. In this case, the changes in AHT and OHT will be in phase, and their ratio will be closely related to the mean AHT and OHT. In a more realistic situation when the climate is perturbed by both heat and freshwater fluxes, whether the BJC will occur depends largely on the interplay among meridional temperature and salinity gradients and the thermohaline circulation strength. This work explicitly shows that the energy conservation is the intrinsic mechanism of BJC and establishes a specific link between radiative feedback and the degree of compensation. It also implies a close relationship between the energy balance at the TOA and the ocean thermohaline dynamics.

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Michael Notaro, Guangshan Chen, and Zhengyu Liu

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Vegetation feedbacks on climate, on the subannual time scale, are examined across six monsoon regions with a fully coupled atmosphere–ocean–ice–land model with dynamic vegetation. Initial value ensemble experiments are run in which the total vegetation cover fraction across the six monsoon regions is reduced and the climatic response assessed. Consistent responses among the regions include reductions in leaf area index, turbulent fluxes, and atmospheric moisture; enhanced subsidence; and increases in ground and surface air temperature. The most distinct changes in vertical motion, precipitable water, and precipitation occur along the flanks of the monsoon season, with small changes in midmonsoon rainfall. Unique responses to reduced vegetation cover are noted among the monsoon regions. While the monsoon is delayed and weaker over north Australia owing to diminished leaf area, it occurs earlier over China and the southwest United States. The subtropical monsoon regions are characterized by a larger decrease in sensible heat than latent heat flux, while the opposite is true for tropical monsoon regions. North Australia experiences the most substantial decline in both moisture flux convergence and precipitation.

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Zhengyu Liu, Lixin Wu, and Eric Bayler

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The interaction of open and coastal oceans in a midlatitude ocean basin is investigated in light of Rossby and coastal Kelvin waves. The basinwide pressure adjustment to an initial Rossby wave packet is studied both analytically and numerically, with the focus on the low-frequency modulation of the resulting coastal Kelvin wave. It is shown that the incoming mass is redistributed by coastal Kelvin waves as well as eastern boundary planetary waves, while the incoming energy is lost mostly to short Rossby waves at the western boundary. The amplitude of the Kelvin wave is determined by two mass redistribution processes: a fast process due to the coastal Kelvin wave along the ocean boundary and a slow process due to the eastern boundary planetary wave in the interior ocean. The amplitude of the Kelvin wave is smaller than that of the incident planetary wave because the initial mass of the Rossby wave is spread to the entire basin. In a midlatitude ocean basin, the slow eastern boundary planetary wave is the dominant mass sink. The resulting coastal Kelvin wave peaks when the peak of the incident planetary wave arrives at the western boundary.

The theory is also extended to an extratropical–tropical basin to shed light on the modulation effect of extratropical oceanic variability on the equatorial thermocline. In contrast to a midlatitude basin, the fast mass redistribution becomes the dominant process, which is now accomplished mainly by equatorial Rossby and Kelvin waves, rather than the coastal Kelvin wave. The coastal Kelvin wave and the modulation of the equatorial thermocline peak close to the time when the wave trail of the incident Rossby wave arrives at the western boundary. Finally, the theory is also applied to the wave interaction around an extratropical island.

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Lixin Wu, Zhengyu Liu, and Harley E. Hurlburt

Abstract

The effect of continental slope on buoyancy-driven circulation has been studied using a two-layer quasigeostrophic model. In the model, buoyancy flux is incorporated as interfacial mass flux, which consists of narrow intense detrainment in the north and broad entrainment in the south. The model explicitly shows that, in the presence of the continental slope, a small amount of buoyancy flux can drive a strong barotropic flow. This flow develops because the beta effect of bottom topography either reduces or deflects the buoyancy-driven deep flow so that it cannot compensate its overlying counterflow, thus generating a net transport. As a result, in a double gyre circulation with a western continental slope, a small amount of detrainment/entrainment water mass can substantially enhance the transport of the western boundary current through southwestern deflection of the deep subpolar circulation. For example, with a reasonable western continental slope, a 10 Sv (Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) detrainment mass flux can increase the transport of the western boundary current from 40 Sv of the wind-driven transport to 148 Sv. Relevance to the North Atlantic is then discussed.

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