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Frank Lunkeit and Yorck von Detten

Abstract

A large number of uncoupled integrations with an idealized general circulation model are carried out to investigate the linearity of the atmospheric quasi-equilibrium response to North Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies related to interdecadal variability. A statistical approach is used to judge the linearity of the temporally averaged global atmospheric response with respect to the amplitudes of the SST anomaly patterns. The results indicate that the assumption of a linear correlation of the corresponding magnitudes is, in general, not valid. Since the model, though idealized, provides all the characteristics of a full general circulation model (GCM), some important conclusions can be drawn for the design and interpretation of GCM sensitivity experiments.

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Philip Sura, Klaus Fraedrich, and Frank Lunkeit

Abstract

A reduced-gravity double-gyre ocean model is used to study the influence of an additive stochastic wind stress component on the regime behavior of the wind-driven circulation. The variance of the stochastic component (spatially coherent white noise) representing the effect of atmospheric transient eddies is chosen to be spatially inhomogeneous. This is done to account for the observed concentration of eddy activity along the North Atlantic and North Pacific storm tracks. As a result the double-gyre model with a spatially inhomogeneous stochastic forcing shows a bimodal behavior. One regime shows a quasi-antisymmetric; the second regime a nonsymmetric flow pattern. It is suggested that the nonsymmetric regime corresponds to one member of a known nonsymmetric pair of stationary solutions. Actually no stationary solutions are explicitly calculated in this study. The bimodality does not appear without a spatially inhomogeneous stochastic forcing nor with spatially homogeneous stochastic forcing. Therefore, the regime transitions are induced by the inhomogeneity of the white noise variance. The study suggests that the stochastic forcing enables the system to reach the neighborhood of an unstable fixed point that is not reached without the spatially inhomogeneous stochastic wind field. The unstable fixed point then acts to steer the model in a temporarily persistent regime.

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Philip Sura, Frank Lunkeit, and Klaus Fraedrich

Abstract

The impact of an unsteady wind forcing on oceanic low-frequency variability is conceptually studied using a reduced-gravity shallow-water model. A time-averaged wind forcing and a simple ocean–atmosphere coupling is completed by a stochastic component (spatially coherent white noise) representing the effect of atmospheric transient eddies. To account for the observed concentration of eddy activity along the North Atlantic and North Pacific storm tracks the variance of the stochastic forcing is chosen to be spatially inhomogeneous. Low-frequency variability of the basin-averaged energetics shows a dominant spectral peak with an amplitude depending on the inhomogeneity of the stochastic forcing and the time-averaged wind stress. The period of the variability is unexpected considering baroclinic Rossby waves forced by the ocean–atmosphere coupling only. This variability can be explained by “spatial resonance” of the forced baroclinic Rossby wave and the Reynolds momentum flux induced by the spatially inhomogeneous white noise.

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Klaus Fraedrich, Axel Kleidon, and Frank Lunkeit

Abstract

The effect of vegetation extremes on the general circulation is estimated by two atmospheric GCM simulations using global desert and forest boundary conditions over land. The difference between the climates of a “green planet” and a “desert world” is dominated by the changes of the hydrological cycle, which is intensified substantially. Enhanced evapotranspiration over land reduces the near-surface temperatures; enhanced precipitation leads to a warmer mid- and upper troposphere extending from the subtropics (induced by ITCZ, monsoon, and Hadley cell dynamics) to the midlatitudes (over the cyclogenesis area of Northern Hemisphere storm tracks). These regional changes of the surface water and energy balances, and of the atmospheric circulation, have potential impact on the ocean and the atmospheric greenhouse.

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Torben Kunz, Klaus Fraedrich, and Frank Lunkeit

Abstract

This observational study investigates the impact of North Atlantic synoptic-scale wave breaking on the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and its connection with the stratosphere in winter, as derived from the 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40). Anticyclonic (AB) and cyclonic wave breaking (CB) composites are compiled of the temporal and spatial components of the large-scale circulation using a method for the detection of AB and CB events from daily maps of potential vorticity on an isentropic surface. From this analysis a close link between wave breaking, the NAO, and the stratosphere is found: 1) a positive feedback between the occurrence of AB (CB) events and the positive (negative) phase of the NAO is suggested, whereas wave breaking in general without any reference to AB- or CB-like behavior does not affect the NAO, though it preferably emerges from its positive phase. 2) AB strengthens the North Atlantic eddy-driven jet and acts to separate it from the subtropical jet, while CB weakens the eddy-driven jet and tends to merge both jets. 3) AB (CB) events are associated with a stronger (weaker) lower-stratospheric polar vortex, characterized by the 50-hPa northern annular mode. During persistent weak vortex episodes, significantly more frequent CB than AB events are observed concurrently with a significant negative NAO response up to 55 days after the onset of the stratospheric perturbation. Finally, tropospheric wave breaking is related to nonannular stratospheric variability, suggesting an additional sensitivity of wave breaking and, thus, the NAO to specific distortions of the stratospheric polar vortex, rather than solely its strength.

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Torben Kunz, Klaus Fraedrich, and Frank Lunkeit

Abstract

Dynamical stratosphere–troposphere coupling through a response of baroclinic waves to lower stratospheric flow conditions is investigated from an initial value approach. A series of adiabatic and frictionless nonlinear baroclinic wave life cycles in a midlatitude tropospheric jet with different initial zonal flow conditions in the stratosphere is simulated, using a dry primitive equation model with spherical geometry. When a stratospheric jet, located at various latitudes between 35° and 70°, is removed from the initial conditions, the wavenumber-6 life cycle behavior changes from the well-known LC1 to LC2 evolution, characterized by anticyclonic and cyclonic wave breaking, respectively. Linear theory, in terms of refractive index and the structure of the corresponding fastest-growing normal mode, is found to be unable to explain this stratosphere-induced LC1 to LC2 transition. This implies that altered nonlinear wave–mean flow interactions are important. The most significant stratosphere-induced change that extends into the nonlinear baroclinic growth stage is a region of downward wave propagation in the lower stratosphere associated with positive values of the squared refractive index near 20 km. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that the difference between the response of the tropospheric circulation to LC1 and LC2 life cycles closely resembles the meridional and vertical structure of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), with positive (negative) NAO-like anomalies being driven by LC1 (LC2). Thus, a weakened stratospheric jet induces the generation of negative NAO-like anomalies in the troposphere, consistent with the observed stratosphere–NAO connection.

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Nedjeljka Žagar, Frank Lunkeit, Frank Sielmann, and Wenlin Xiao

Abstract

The wavenumber filtering of the Kelvin waves (KWs) is performed by a multivariate projection of the ERA5 data on the horizontal structures of the KWs from linear theory and vertical structure functions (VSFs) spanning the troposphere and stratosphere. The associated equivalent depths are consistent with solutions expected for the bounded atmosphere. The zonal wavenumber spectra of the KW energy and temporal variance are shown to be continuous and red with the rotational kinetic energy being dominant over the divergent kinetic energy at zonal wavenumber k = 1. Spatial and temporal variance in wavenumber space is analyzed in terms of periods from linear theory. The strongest variability is found in periods of 8–12 days at k = 1 and VSFs with a single zero-crossing in the troposphere and a structure resembling upward propagating waves across the tropopause and higher up. Secondary maxima are associated with VSFs that have multiple zero crossings in the troposphere and small equivalent depths. A comparison of the wavenumber and wavenumber–frequency methods shows a disagreement between frequencies from the Fourier time series and linear theory. A phase-locking experiment, in which the KW phases are replaced by linear theory estimates, demonstrates that power spectra from wavenumber–frequency filtering in the troposphere are largely defined by wave phases.

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Isabella Bordi, Klaus Fraedrich, Frank Lunkeit, and Alfonso Sutera

Abstract

The observed low-frequency variability of the zonally averaged atmospheric circulation in the winter hemisphere is found to be amenable to an interpretation where the subtropical jet is flanked by a secondary midlatitude one. Observations also suggest that the link between the stratosphere and the troposphere modulates the variability of the tropospheric double-jet structure. Moreover, the summer hemisphere is characterized by a strong midlatitude jet sided by an intermittent subtropical one and easterly winds in the stratosphere. This work addresses the question about the role of eddies in generating and maintaining these key features of the general circulation by means of a simplified general circulation model. Model solutions for different parameter settings and external radiative forcings in the stratosphere are studied with and without eddies active on the system. The following main findings are noted. 1) Eddy dynamics alone, through the baroclinic instability processes in an atmosphere subjected to radiative forcing and dissipation, may account for the observed meridional variance of the tropospheric jets. 2) The Hadley cell can extend to the pole overlying the Ferrel cell, a feature supported by observations in the summer hemisphere. 3) The meridional temperature gradient reversal in the summer stratosphere contributes to the observed low-frequency variability introducing an intermittent formation of a subtropical jet and the occurrence of easterlies in the tropical stratosphere. 4) Poleward propagation of the zonal wind anomaly is, when it occurs, related to the activity of synoptic eddies.

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Tamás Bódai, Gábor Drótos, Mátyás Herein, Frank Lunkeit, and Valerio Lucarini

Abstract

We study the teleconnection between El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Indian summer monsoon (IM) in large ensemble simulations, the Max Planck Institute Earth System Model (MPI-ESM), and the Community Earth System Model (CESM1). We characterize ENSO by the June–August Niño-3 box-average SST and the IM by the June–September average precipitation over India, and define their teleconnection in a changing climate as an ensemble-wise correlation. To test robustness, we also consider somewhat different variables that can characterize ENSO and the IM. We utilize ensembles converged to the system’s snapshot attractor for analyzing possible changes in the teleconnection. Our main finding is that the teleconnection strength is typically increasing on the long term in view of appropriately revised ensemble-wise indices. Indices involving a more western part of the Pacific reveal, furthermore, a short-term but rather strong increase in strength followed by some decrease at the turn of the century. Using the station-based Southern Oscillation index (SOI) as opposed to area-based indices leads to the identification of somewhat more erratic trends, but the turn-of-the-century “bump” is well detectable with it. All this is in contrast, if not in contradiction, to the discussion in the literature of a weakening teleconnection in the late twentieth century. We show here that this discrepancy can be due to any of three reasons: 1) ensemble-wise and temporal correlation coefficients used in the literature are different quantities; 2) the temporal moving correlation has a high statistical variability but possibly also persistence; or 3) MPI-ESM does not represent the Earth system faithfully.

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Simon Blessing, Richard J. Greatbatch, Klaus Fraedrich, and Frank Lunkeit

Abstract

A tangent linear adjoint for a low-resolution dynamical model of the atmosphere is used to derive the optimal forcing perturbations for all state variables such that after a specified lead time the model response has a given projection, in terms of an energy norm, on the pattern associated with the 51-yr trend in the Northern Hemisphere winter tropospheric circulation, 1948/49–1998/99. A feature of the derived forcing sensitivity is a Rossby wave–like feature that emanates from the western tropical Pacific and is associated with the deepening of the Aleutian low, whereas an annular pattern in the forcing sensitivity in the uppermost model level is shown to be associated with the pattern of the trend over the Euro-Atlantic/Asian sectors, including the upward trend in the North Atlantic Oscillation index. The authors argue that the Rossby wave–type feature is consistent with studies that have argued a role for the upward trend in tropical sea surface temperature during the 51-yr period. On the other hand, the authors interpret the annular pattern in the forcing sensitivity as being consistent with studies that have argued that the trend over the Euro-Atlantic sector was associated with influences from the stratosphere. In particular, a nonlinear model driven by the optimal forcing perturbation applied only to the top model level is successful at reproducing the trend pattern with the correct amplitude in the Euro-Atlantic sector, but implies a trend over the North Pacific toward a weaker Aleutian low, contrary to what was observed but similar to the spatial pattern associated with the northern annular mode. These results show that the adjoint approach can shed light on previous apparently different interpretations of the trend. The study also presents a successful application of a tangent linear adjoint model to a climate problem.

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