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Andrew D. King
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Andrew D. King, David J. Karoly, and Geert Jan van Oldenborgh
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Mitchell T. Black, David J. Karoly, and Andrew D. King
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Sophie C. Lewis, Andrew D. King, and Sarah E. Perkins-Kirkpatrick

Abstract

The term “new normal” has been used in scientific literature and public commentary to contextualize contemporary climate events as an indicator of a changing climate due to enhanced greenhouse warming. A new normal has been used broadly but tends to be descriptive and ambiguously defined. Here we review previous studies conceptualizing this idea of a new climatological normal and argue that this term should be used cautiously and with explicit definition in order to avoid confusion. We provide a formal definition of a new climate normal relative to present based around record-breaking contemporary events and explore the timing of when such extremes become statistically normal in the future model simulations. Applying this method to the record-breaking global-average 2015 temperatures as a reference event and a suite of model climate models, we determine that 2015 global annual-average temperatures will be the new normal by 2040 in all emissions scenarios. At the regional level, a new normal can be delayed through aggressive greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Using this specific case study to investigate a climatological new normal, our approach demonstrates the greater value of the concept of a climatological new normal for understanding and communicating climate change when the term is explicitly defined. This approach moves us one step closer to understanding how current extremes will change in the future in a warming world.

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Kimberley J. Reid, Ian Simmonds, Claire L. Vincent, and Andrew D. King

Abstract

Australian northwest cloudbands (NWCBs) are continental-scale bands of continuous cloud that stretch from northwest to southeast Australia. In earlier studies, where the characteristics of NWCBs and their relationship with precipitation were identified from satellite imagery, there was considerable uncertainty in the results due to limited quality and availability of data. The present study identifies NWCBs from 31 years of satellite data using a pattern-matching algorithm. This new climatology is the longest record based entirely on observations. Our findings include a strong annual cycle in NWCB frequency, with a summer maximum and winter minimum, and a statistically significant increase in annual NWCB days over the period 1984–2014. Physical mechanisms responsible for NWCB occurrences are explored to determine whether there is a fundamental difference between summer and winter NWCBs as hypothesized in earlier studies. Composite analyses are used to reveal that a key difference between these is their genesis mechanisms. Whereas summer NWCBs are triggered by cyclonic disturbances, winter NWCBs tend to form when meridional sea surface temperature gradients trigger baroclinic instability. It was also found that while precipitation is enhanced over parts of Australia during a cloudband day, it is reduced in other regions. During a cloudband day, precipitation extremes are more likely over northwest, central, and southeast Australia, while the probability of extreme precipitation decreases in northeast and southwest Australia. Additionally, cold fronts and NWCBs can interact, leading to enhanced rainfall over Australia.

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Andrew D. King, Mitchell T. Black, David J. Karoly, and Markus G. Donat
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David J. Karoly, Mitchell T. Black, Andrew D. King, and Michael R. Grose
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Kimberley J. Reid, Andrew D. King, Todd P. Lane, and Debra Hudson

Abstract

Studies of atmospheric rivers (ARs) over Australia have, so far, only focused on northwest cloudband–type weather systems. Here we perform a comprehensive analysis of AR climatology and impacts over Australia that includes not only northwesterly systems, but easterly and extratropical ARs also. We quantify the impact of ARs on mean and extreme rainfall including assessing how the origin location of ARs can alter their precipitation outcomes. We found a strong relationship between ARs and extreme rainfall in the agriculturally significant Murray–Daring basin region. We test the hypothesis that the tropical and subtropical originating ARs we observe in Australasia differ from canonical extratropical ARs by examining the vertical structure of ARs grouped by origin location. We found that in the moisture abundant tropics and subtropics, wind speed drives the intensity of ARs, while in the extratropics, the strength of an AR is largely determined by moisture availability. Finally, we examine the modulation of AR frequency by different climate modes. We find weak (but occasionally significant) correlations between ARs frequency and El Niño–Southern Oscillation, the Indian Ocean dipole, and the southern annular mode. However, there is a stronger relationship between the phases of the Madden–Julian oscillation and tropical AR frequency, which is an avenue for potential skill in forecasting ARs on subseasonal time scales.

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Bryan A. Baum, Ping Yang, Andrew J. Heymsfield, Steven Platnick, Michael D. King, Y-X. Hu, and Sarah T. Bedka

Abstract

This study examines the development of bulk single-scattering properties of ice clouds, including single-scattering albedo, asymmetry factor, and phase function, for a set of 1117 particle size distributions obtained from analysis of the First International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project Regional Experiment (FIRE)-I, FIRE-II, Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program intensive observation period, Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Kwajalein Experiment (KWAJEX), and the Cirrus Regional Study of Tropical Anvils and Cirrus Layers (CRYSTAL) Florida Area Cirrus Experiment (FACE) data. The primary focus is to develop band-averaged models appropriate for use by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imager on the Earth Observing System Terra and Aqua platforms, specifically for bands located at wavelengths of 0.65, 1.64, 2.13, and 3.75 μm. The results indicate that there are substantial differences in the bulk scattering properties of ice clouds formed in areas of deep convection and those that exist in areas of much lower updraft velocities. Band-averaged bulk scattering property results obtained from a particle-size-dependent mixture of ice crystal habits are compared with those obtained assuming only solid hexagonal columns. The single-scattering albedo is lower for hexagonal columns than for a habit mixture for the 1.64-, 2.13-, and 3.75-μm bands, with the differences increasing with wavelength. In contrast, the asymmetry factors obtained from the habit mixture and only the solid hexagonal column are most different at 0.65 μm, with the differences decreasing as wavelength increases. At 3.75 μm, the asymmetry factor results from the two habit assumptions are almost indistinguishable. The asymmetry factor, single-scattering albedo, and scattering phase functions are also compared with the MODIS version-1 (V1) models. Differences between the current and V1 models can be traced to the microphysical models and specifically to the number of both the smallest and the largest particles assumed in the size distributions.

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Andrew D. King, Reto Knutti, Peter Uhe, Daniel M. Mitchell, Sophie C. Lewis, Julie M. Arblaster, and Nicolas Freychet

Abstract

Given the Paris Agreement it is imperative there is greater understanding of the consequences of limiting global warming to the target 1.5° and 2°C levels above preindustrial conditions. It is challenging to quantify changes across a small increment of global warming, so a pattern-scaling approach may be considered. Here we investigate the validity of such an approach by comprehensively examining how well local temperatures and warming trends in a 1.5°C world predict local temperatures at global warming of 2°C. Ensembles of transient coupled climate simulations from multiple models under different scenarios were compared and individual model responses were analyzed. For many places, the multimodel forced response of seasonal-average temperatures is approximately linear with global warming between 1.5° and 2°C. However, individual model results vary and large contributions from nonlinear changes in unforced variability or the forced response cannot be ruled out. In some regions, such as East Asia, models simulate substantially greater warming than is expected from linear scaling. Examining East Asia during boreal summer, we find that increased warming in the simulated 2°C world relative to scaling up from 1.5°C is related to reduced anthropogenic aerosol emissions. Our findings suggest that, where forcings other than those due to greenhouse gas emissions change, the warming experienced in a 1.5°C world is a poor predictor for local climate at 2°C of global warming. In addition to the analysis of the linearity in the forced climate change signal, we find that natural variability remains a substantial contribution to uncertainty at these low-warming targets.

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