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Marcelo Barreiro, Annalisa Cherchi, and Simona Masina

Abstract

Using an atmospheric general circulation model coupled to a slab ocean, the effects of ocean heat transport (OHT) on climate are studied by prescribing OHT from 0 to 2 times the present-day values. In agreement with previous studies, an increase in OHT from zero to present-day conditions warms the climate by decreasing the albedo due to reduced sea ice extent and marine stratus cloud cover and by increasing the greenhouse effect through a moistening of the atmosphere. However, when the OHT is further increased, the solution becomes highly dependent on a positive radiative feedback between tropical low clouds and sea surface temperature. The strength of the low cloud–SST feedback combined with the model design may produce solutions that are globally colder than in the control run, mainly due to an unrealistically strong equatorial cooling. Excluding those cases, results indicate that the climate warms only if the OHT increase does not exceed more than 10% of the present-day value in the case of a strong cloud–SST feedback and more than 25% when this feedback is weak. Larger OHT increases lead to a cold state where low clouds cover most of the deep tropics, increasing the tropical albedo and drying the atmosphere. This suggests that the present-day climate is close to a state where the OHT maximizes its warming effects on climate and raises doubts about the possibility that greater OHT in the past may have induced significantly warmer climates than that of today.

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Annalisa Cherchi, H. Annamalai, Simona Masina, and Antonio Navarra

Abstract

Dry summers over the eastern Mediterranean are characterized by strong descent anchored by long Rossby waves, which are forced by diabatic heating associated with summer monsoon rainfall over South Asia. The large-scale teleconnection between rising and subsiding air masses is referred to as the “monsoon–desert mechanism.” This study evaluates the ability of the phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) models in representing the physical processes involved in this mechanism.

An evaluation of statistics between summer climatologies of monsoon diabatic heating and that of vertical velocity over the eastern Mediterranean suggests a linear relationship. Despite large spatial diversity in monsoon heating, descent over the Mediterranean is coherently located and realistic in intensity. To measure the sensitivity of descent to the diversity in the horizontal and vertical distribution of monsoon heating, a series of linear atmosphere model experiments are performed. It is shown that column-integrated heating over both the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea provides the largest descent with a more realistic spatial pattern. In the vertical, CMIP5 models underestimate the diabatic heating at upper levels, while they overestimate it at lower levels, resulting in a weaker forced response and weaker associated descent over the Mediterranean. A moist static energy budget analysis applied to CMIP5 suggests that most models capture the dominant role of horizontal temperature advection and radiative fluxes in balancing descent over the Mediterranean. Based on the objective analysis herein, a subset of models is identified that captures the teleconnection for reasons consistent with observations. The recognized processes vary at interannual time scales as well, with imprints of severe weak/strong monsoons noticeable over the Mediterranean.

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Florence Colleoni, Simona Masina, Annalisa Cherchi, and Doroteaciro Iovino

Abstract

This work explores the impact of orbital parameters and greenhouse gas concentrations on the climate of marine isotope stage (MIS) 7 glacial inception and compares it to that of MIS 5. The authors use a coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation model to simulate the mean climate state of six time slices at 115, 122, 125, 229, 236, and 239 kyr, representative of a climate evolution from interglacial to glacial inception conditions. The simulations are designed to separate the effects of orbital parameters from those of greenhouse gas (GHG). Their results show that, in all the time slices considered, MIS 7 boreal lands mean annual climate is colder than the MIS 5 one. This difference is explained at 70% by the impact of the MIS 7 GHG. While the impact of GHG over Northern Hemisphere is homogeneous, the difference in temperature between MIS 7 and MIS 5 due to orbital parameters differs regionally and is linked with the Arctic Oscillation. The perennial snow cover is larger in all the MIS 7 experiments compared to MIS 5, as a result of MIS 7 orbital parameters, strengthened by GHG. At regional scale, Eurasia exhibits the strongest response to MIS 7 cold climate with a perennial snow area 3 times larger than in MIS 5 experiments. This suggests that MIS 7 glacial inception is more favorable over this area than over North America. Furthermore, at 239 kyr, the perennial snow covers an area equivalent to that of MIS 5 glacial inception (115 kyr). The authors suggest that MIS 7 glacial inception is more extensive than MIS 5 glacial inception over the high latitudes.

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Andrea Alessandri, Andrea Borrelli, Annalisa Cherchi, Stefano Materia, Antonio Navarra, June-Yi Lee, and Bin Wang

Abstract

Ensembles of retrospective 2-month dynamical forecasts initiated on 1 May are used to predict the onset of the Indian summer monsoon (ISM) for the period 1989–2005. The subseasonal predictions (SSPs) are based on a coupled general circulation model and recently they have been upgraded by the realistic initialization of the atmosphere with initial conditions taken from reanalysis. Two objective large-scale methods based on dynamical-circulation and hydrological indices are applied to detect the ISM onset. The SSPs show some skill in forecasting earlier-than-normal ISM onsets, while they have difficulty in predicting late onsets. It is shown that significant contribution to the skill in forecasting early ISM onsets comes from the newly developed initialization of the atmosphere from reanalysis. On one hand, atmospheric initialization produces a better representation of the atmospheric mean state in the initial conditions, leading to a systematically improved monsoon onset sequence. On the other hand, the initialization of the atmosphere allows some skill in forecasting the northward-propagating intraseasonal wind and precipitation anomalies over the tropical Indian Ocean. The northward-propagating intraseasonal modes trigger the monsoon in some early-onset years. The realistic phase initialization of these modes improves the forecasts of the associated earlier-than-normal monsoon onsets. The prediction of late onsets is not noticeably improved by the initialization of the atmosphere. It is suggested that late onsets of the monsoon are too far away from the start date of the forecasts to conserve enough memory of the intraseasonal oscillation (ISO) anomalies and of the improved representation of the mean state in the initial conditions.

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Bruce T. Anderson, Jeff R. Knight, Mark A. Ringer, Jin-Ho Yoon, and Annalisa Cherchi

Abstract

Global-scale variations in the climate system over the last half of the twentieth century, including long-term increases in global-mean near-surface temperatures, are consistent with concurrent human-induced emissions of radiatively active gases and aerosols. However, such consistency does not preclude the possible influence of other forcing agents, including internal modes of climate variability or unaccounted for aerosol effects. To test whether other unknown forcing agents may have contributed to multidecadal increases in global-mean near-surface temperatures from 1950 to 2000, data pertaining to observed changes in global-scale sea surface temperatures and observed changes in radiatively active atmospheric constituents are incorporated into numerical global climate models. Results indicate that the radiative forcing needed to produce the observed long-term trends in sea surface temperatures—and global-mean near-surface temperatures—is provided predominantly by known changes in greenhouse gases and aerosols. Further, results indicate that less than 10% of the long-term historical increase in global-mean near-surface temperatures over the last half of the twentieth century could have been the result of internal climate variability. In addition, they indicate that less than 25% of the total radiative forcing needed to produce the observed long-term trend in global-mean near-surface temperatures could have been provided by changes in net radiative forcing from unknown sources (either positive or negative). These results, which are derived from simple energy balance requirements, emphasize the important role humans have played in modifying the global climate over the last half of the twentieth century.

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Annalisa Cherchi, Silvio Gualdi, Swadhin Behera, Jing Jia Luo, Sebastien Masson, Toshio Yamagata, and Antonio Navarra

Abstract

The Indian summer monsoon (ISM) is one of the main components of the Asian summer monsoon. It is well known that one of the starting mechanisms of a summer monsoon is the thermal contrast between land and ocean and that sea surface temperature (SST) and moisture are crucial factors for its evolution and intensity. The Indian Ocean, therefore, may play a very important role in the generation and evolution of the ISM itself. A coupled general circulation model, implemented with a high-resolution atmospheric component, appears to be able to simulate the Indian summer monsoon in a realistic way. In particular, the features of the simulated ISM variability are similar to the observations.

In this study, the relationships between the ISM and tropical Indian Ocean (TIO) SST anomalies are investigated, as well as the ability of the coupled model to capture those connections. The recent discovery of the Indian Ocean dipole mode (IODM) may suggest new perspectives in the relationship between ISM and TIO SST. A new statistical technique, the coupled manifold, is used to investigate the TIO SST variability and its relation with the tropical Pacific Ocean (TPO). The analysis shows that the SST variability in the TIO contains a significant portion that is independent from the TPO variability. The same technique is used to estimate the amount of Indian rainfall variability that can be explained by the tropical Indian Ocean SST. Indian Ocean SST anomalies are separated in a part remotely forced from the tropical Pacific Ocean variability and a part independent from that. The relationships between the two SSTA components and the Indian monsoon variability are then investigated in detail.

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Andrea Alessandri, Andrea Borrelli, Simona Masina, Annalisa Cherchi, Silvio Gualdi, Antonio Navarra, Pierluigi Di Pietro, and Andrea F. Carril

Abstract

The development of the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV)–Centro Euro-Mediterraneo per i Cambiamenti Climatici (CMCC) Seasonal Prediction System (SPS) is documented. In this SPS the ocean initial-conditions estimation includes a reduced-order optimal interpolation procedure for the assimilation of temperature and salinity profiles at the global scale. Nine-member ensemble forecasts have been produced for the period 1991–2003 for two starting dates per year in order to assess the impact of the subsurface assimilation in the ocean for initialization. Comparing the results with control simulations (i.e., without assimilation of subsurface profiles during ocean initialization), it is shown that the improved ocean initialization increases the skill in the prediction of tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures of the system for boreal winter forecasts. Considering the forecast of the 1997/98 El Niño, the data assimilation in the ocean initial conditions leads to a considerable improvement in the representation of its onset and development. The results presented in this paper indicate a better prediction of global-scale surface climate anomalies for the forecasts started in November, probably because of the improvement in the tropical Pacific. For boreal winter, significant increases in the capability of the system to discriminate above-normal and below-normal temperature anomalies are shown in both the tropics and extratropics.

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