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Bin Wang and Qin Zhang

Abstract

The anomalous Philippine Sea anticyclone (PSAC) conveys impacts of El Niño to east Asian climate during the mature and decay of an El Niño (from the winter to ensuing summer). It is shown that the anomalous PSAC forms in fall about one season prior to the peak El Niño; its strength increases with the El Niño intensity and its sign reverses during a La Niña. The PSAC formation concurs with abnormal deepening of the east Asian trough and with increasing number of northward recurvature of tropical storms in the western Pacific. The PSAC establishment is abrupt, coupling with a swing from a wet to dry phase of an intraseasonal oscillation (ISO) and often concurrent with early retreat of the east Asian summer monsoon. The ISO becomes inactive after PSAC establishment.

The development of the PSAC is attributed to combined effects of the remote El Niño forcing, tropical–extratropical interaction, and monsoon–ocean interaction. The developing El Niño induces off-equatorial ascending Rossby wave responses and land surface cooling in northeast Asia; both deepen the east Asian trough in fall and induces vigorous tropical–extratropical exchange of air mass and heat, which enhances the cold air outbreak and initiation of the PSAC. Through exciting descending Rossby waves, the El Niño–induced Indonesian subsidence generates low-level anticyclonic vorticity over south Asia, which is advected by mean monsoon westerly, instigating the anomalous PSAC. The ISO interacting with the underlying ocean plays a critical role in the abrupt establishment of PSAC. The wind–evaporation/entrainment feedback tends to amplify (suppress) ISO before (after) winter northeasterly monsoon commences, suggesting the roles of atmosphereocean interaction and the seasonal march of background winds in changing the Philippine Sea ISO intensity and maintaining PSAC.

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Lijuan Li, Bin Wang, and Guang J. Zhang

Abstract

The weak negative shortwave (SW) radiative feedback α sw during El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) over the equatorial Pacific is a common problem in the models participating in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). In this study, the causes for the α sw biases are analyzed using three-dimensional cloud fraction and liquid water path (LWP) provided by the 17 CMIP5 models and the relative roles of convective and stratiform rainfall feedbacks in α sw are explored. Results show that the underestimate of SW feedback is primarily associated with too negative cloud fraction and LWP feedbacks in the boundary layers, together with insufficient middle and/or high cloud and dynamics feedbacks, in both the CMIP and Atmospheric Model Intercomparsion Project (AMIP) runs, the latter being somewhat better. The underestimations of SW feedbacks are due to both weak negative SW responses to El Niño, especially in the CMIP runs, and strong positive SW responses to La Niña, consistent with their biases in cloud fraction, LWP, and dynamics responses to El Niño and La Niña. The convective rainfall feedback, which is largely reduced owing to the excessive cold tongue in the CMIP runs compared with their AMIP counterparts, contributes more to the difference of SW feedback (mainly under El Niño conditions) between the CMIP and AMIP runs, while the stratiform rainfall plays a more important role in SW feedback during La Niña.

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Lijuan Li, Bin Wang, and Guang J. Zhang

Abstract

The weak response of surface shortwave cloud radiative forcing (SWCF) to El Niño over the equatorial Pacific remains a common problem in many contemporary climate models. This study shows that two versions of the Grid-Point Atmospheric Model of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP)/State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics (LASG) (GAMIL) produce distinctly different surface SWCF response to El Niño. The earlier version, GAMIL1, underestimates this response, whereas the latest version, GAMIL2, simulates it well. To understand the causes for the different SWCF responses between the two simulations, the authors analyze the underlying physical mechanisms. Results indicate the enhanced stratiform condensation and evaporation in GAMIL2 play a key role in improving the simulations of multiyear annual mean water vapor (or relative humidity), cloud fraction, and in-cloud liquid water path (ICLWP) and hence in reducing the biases of SWCF and rainfall responses to El Niño due to all of the improved dynamical (vertical velocity at 500 hPa), cloud amount, and liquid water path (LWP) responses. The largest contribution to the SWCF response improvement in GAMIL2 is from LWP in the Niño-4 region and from low-cloud cover and LWP in the Niño-3 region. Furthermore, as a crucial factor in the low-cloud response, the atmospheric stability change in the lower layers is significantly influenced by the nonconvective heating variation during La Niña.

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Yongsheng Zhang, Tim Li, and Bin Wang

Abstract

The decadal change in the spring snow depth over the Tibetan Plateau and impact on the East Asian summer monsoon are investigated using station observations of snow depth data and the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis for 1962–93. During spring (March–April), both the domain-averaged snow depth index (SDI) and the first principal component of the empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis exhibit a sharp increase in snow depth after the late 1970s, which is accompanied by excessive precipitation and land surface cooling. The correlation between SDI and precipitation shows a coherent remote teleconnection from the Tibetan Plateau–northern India to western Asia.

It is found that the increased snow depth over the plateau after the mid-1970s is concurrent with a deeper India–Burma trough, an intensified subtropical westerly jet as well as enhanced ascending motion over the Tibetan Plateau. Additional factors for the excessive snowfall include more moisture supply associated with the intensification of the southerly flow over the Bay of Bengal and an increase of humidity over the Indian Ocean. While the extensive changes of the circulation in Eurasia and the Indian Ocean are associated with a climate shift in the Northern Hemisphere after the mid-1970s, some regional factors such as the enhanced coupling between the sea surface temperature (SST) warming in the northern Indian Ocean/Maritime Continent and the tropical convective maximum (TCM), as well as local feedback of the land surface cooling due to excessive snow cover and the atmosphere may contribute to the regional circulation changes. The former enhances the western Pacific subtropical in the South China Sea–Philippine Sea through modulation of the local Hadley circulation and results in stronger pressure gradients and fronts in southeastern and eastern Asia.

A close relationship exists between the interdecadal increase of snow depth over the Tibetan Plateau during March–April and a wetter summer rainfall over the Yangtze River valley and a dryer one in the southeast coast of China and the Indochina peninsula. It is proposed that the excessive snowmelt results in a surface cooling over the plateau and neighboring regions and high pressure anomalies that cause a more northwestward extension of the western Pacific subtropical high in the subsequent summer. Additionally, the increased surface moisture supply provides more energy for the development of the eastward-migrating low-level vortex over the eastern flank of the Tibetan Plateau. Both factors lead to a wetter summer in the vicinity of the Yangtze River valley.

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Peng Zhang, Bin Wang, and Zhiwei Wu

Abstract

According to the sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) intensity in the Niño-3.4 region and the east–west gradient across the Pacific, three types of El Niño are identified in this work. An event with larger than average intensity is defined as a strong El Niño, all others are considered to be weak events. Almost all strong El Niños are concurrent with a large gradient, which is featured by negative SSTAs in the western Pacific and positive SSTAs in the equatorial eastern Pacific (EP) and Indian Ocean (IO). According to the east–west gradient, the weak events can be subdivided into gradient-weak (GW) El Niño and equatorial-weak (EW) El Niño. The GW El Niño characterizes a great east–west gradient without a significant IO SSTA. In contrast, the EW event features a positive SSTA over the tropical IO and EP. The impact of GW El Niño on the North Atlantic–Eurasia continent (NA–Eurasia) displays a negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)-like atmospheric anomaly, resulting in a drier and cooler-than-normal winter over Eurasia. Observational and numerical evidence indicate that the prolonged subtropical jet from the North Pacific to NA acts as a waveguide that captures the planetary Rossby waves generated by the GW El Niño. This waveguide favors the propagation of the perturbations into the downstream regions, which would affect the NA–Eurasian climate. However, the EW El Niño is accompanied by a relatively weak subtropical jet that cannot impact the NA–Eurasian climate significantly. For the strong El Niño, the absence of the NAO signal can be attributed to the counteracting of the teleconnections triggered by the Pacific and the tropical IO.

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Jianping Duan, Qi-bin Zhang, and Li-Xin Lv

Abstract

The recent increase in the frequency of winter cold extremes has received particular attention in light of the climate's warming. Knowledge about changes in the frequency of winter cold extremes requires long-term climate data over large spatial scale. In this study, a temperature-sensitive tree-ring network consisting of 31 sampling sites collected from seven provinces in subtropical China was used to investigate the characteristics of cold-season temperature extremes during the past two centuries. The results show that the percentage of trees in a year that experienced an abnormal decrease in radial growth relative to the previous year can serve as an indicator of interannual change in January–March temperature in subtropical China. The frequency of extreme interannual decreases in cold-season temperature has increased since the 1930s. The change in cold-season temperature was significantly correlated with the intensity of the Siberian high, yet the correlation was much weaker in the period preceding the 1930s. The findings provide evidence of a frequency change in the occurrence of interannual cold-season temperature extremes in the past two centuries for subtropical China. Particularly, the pattern in the variation of cold-season temperature suggests a change in climate systems around the 1930s.

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Yongsheng Zhang, Tim Li, Bin Wang, and Guoxiong Wu

Abstract

The temporal and spatial structures of the atmospheric circulation associated with the climatology and interannual variations of the summer monsoon onset over the Indochina Peninsula were studied using the observed daily rainfall at 30 stations and the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis from 1951 to 1996. The climatological monsoon onset over Indochina is on 9 May, with a standard deviation of 12 days. The monsoon onset is characterized by the pronounced northeastward progression of the low-level southwesterlies over the Indian Ocean and the intensification and northward extension of the tropical convection from Sumatra. It coincides with the weakening of the midlatitude westerly over south Asia, and the westward propagation of the intraseasonal oscillation (ISO) originated in the South China Sea (SCS) and the western Pacific with a dominant timescale of 12–25 days.

A close relationship between the interannual variations of the monsoon onset and El Niño/La Niña was identified. Years with warm (cold) sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the western Pacific and cold (warm) SST anomalies in the central-eastern Pacific in the preceding spring have an early (late) onset. For an early onset year, strong convective activities appear over the southern Indochina Peninsula and the southern SCS in the preceding winter and spring. Associated with the changes of the Walker circulation and the local Hadley circulation related to La Niña, strong convective activities were maintained by the convergence between the anomalous southwesterlies in the Indian Ocean and northeasterlies over the northern SCS. The anomalous southwesterlies in the Indian Ocean were induced by both the anomalous Walker circulation associated with La Niña and anomalous land–sea thermal contrast. The anomalous northeasterlies over the northern SCS were originated in northern winter due to the combined effects of the cold east China land and the warm Philippine Sea, and further maintained by a positive thermodynamic air–sea feedback mechanism related to La Niña. An opposite scenario is found for a late onset year with warm SST anomalies in the central-eastern Pacific (El Niño).

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Weiyi Sun, Bin Wang, Qiong Zhang, Deliang Chen, Guonian Lu, and Jian Liu

Abstract

Understanding climate change in the Middle East (ME) is crucial because people’s living environment depends on rain-fed crop systems. It remains unclear whether the ME climate would be affected by the Saharan vegetation collapse at the end of the mid-Holocene (MH). Proxy data suggest a transition from humid to more arid ME conditions during the period of 6.5–5 kyr BP. Using a set of idealized sensitivity experiments with an Earth system model (EC-Earth), we infer that the shift of Saharan vegetation plays a role in this wet-to-dry transition over the ME. The experimental results show that the Saharan greening can significantly increase the late winter and early spring precipitation over the ME. The reason is that the vegetation decreases the surface albedo, which induces a warming in North Africa and generation of an anomalous low-level cyclonic flow, which transports moisture from tropical North Africa and the Red Sea to the ME. The moisture also flows from the Mediterranean Sea region to the ME through the enhanced mid- to upper-level westerlies. The enhanced moisture carried by westerly and southwesterly flows is lifted upon reaching Mesopotamia and the Zagros Mountains, substantially increasing the precipitation there. When the Sahara greening is removed, a drier condition happens in the ME. The crop model simulation further shows a substantial decrease in wheat yield in Mesopotamia with the reduction of Saharan vegetation, which is consistent with paleoclimatic reconstructions. These results imply that future changes in Saharan land cover may have climatic and agricultural impacts in the Middle East.

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Xiaoqing Peng, Tingjun Zhang, Oliver W. Frauenfeld, Kang Wang, Dongliang Luo, Bin Cao, Hang Su, Huijun Jin, and Qingbai Wu

Abstract

Variability of active layer thickness (ALT) in permafrost regions is critical for assessments of climate change, water resources, and engineering applications. Detailed knowledge of ALT variations is also important for studies on ecosystem, hydrological, and geomorphological processes in cold regions. The primary objective of this study is therefore to provide a comprehensive 1971–2000 climatology of ALT and its changes across the entire Northern Hemisphere from 1850 through 2100. To accomplish this, in situ observations, the Stefan solution based on a thawing index, and the edaphic factor (E factor) are employed to calculate ALT. The thawing index is derived from (i) the multimodel ensemble mean of 16 models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) over 1850–2005, (ii) three representative concentration pathways (RCP2.6, RCP4.5, and RCP8.5) for 2006–2100, and (iii) Climatic Research Unit (CRU) gridded observations for 1901–2014. The results show significant spatial variability in in situ ALT that generally ranges from 40 to 320 cm, with some extreme values of 900 cm in the Alps. The differences in the ALT climatology between the three RCPs and the historical experiments ranged from 0 to 200 cm. The biggest increases, of 120–200 cm, are on the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau, while the smallest increases of less than 20 cm are in Alaska. Averaged over all permafrost regions, mean ALT from CMIP5 increased significantly at 0.57 ± 0.04 cm decade−1 during 1850–2005, while 2006–2100 projections show ALT increases of 0.77 ± 0.08 cm decade−1 for RCP2.6, 2.56 ± 0.07 cm decade−1 for RCP4.5, and 6.51 ± 0.07 cm decade−1 for RCP8.5.

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Bin Wang, Sun-Seon Lee, Duane E. Waliser, Chidong Zhang, Adam Sobel, Eric Maloney, Tim Li, Xianan Jiang, and Kyung-Ja Ha

Abstract

Realistic simulations of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) by global climate models (GCMs) remain a great challenge. To evaluate GCM simulations of the MJO, the U.S. CLIVAR MJO Working Group developed a standardized set of diagnostics, providing a comprehensive assessment of statistical properties of the MJO. Here, a suite of complementary diagnostics has been developed that provides discrimination and assessment of MJO simulations based on the perception that the MJO propagation has characteristic dynamic and thermodynamic structures. The new dynamics-oriented diagnostics help to evaluate whether a model produces eastward-propagating MJOs for the right reasons. The diagnostics include 1) the horizontal structure of boundary layer moisture convergence (BLMC) that moistens the lower troposphere to the east of a convection center, 2) the preluding eastward propagation of BLMC that leads the propagation of MJO precipitation by about 5 days, 3) the horizontal structure of 850-hPa zonal wind and its equatorial asymmetry (Kelvin easterly versus Rossby westerly intensity), 4) the equatorial vertical–longitudinal structure of the equivalent potential temperature and convective instability index that reflects the premoistening and predestabilization processes, 5) the equatorial vertical–longitudinal distribution of diabatic heating that reflects the multicloud structure of the MJO, 6) the upper-level divergence that reflects the influence of stratiform cloud heating, and 7) the MJO available potential energy generation that reflects the amplification and propagation of an MJO. The models that simulate better three-dimensional dynamic and thermodynamic structures of MJOs generally reproduce better eastward propagations. This evaluation identifies a number of shortcomings in representing dynamical and heating processes relevant to the MJO simulation and reveals potential sources of the shortcomings.

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