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John C. Fyfe

Abstract

The three-dimensional structure and propagation characteristics of African easterly waves for the 1986–94 period are studied with June–August European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) operational analyses, National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalyses, and Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis GCM output. Specific consideration is given to the differences in the time-mean circulation, synoptic-scale variance, covariance, and principal oscillation patterns. The African easterly waves derived from the ECMWF and NCEP analyses are very similar, with both providing a reasonably realistic depiction of African easterly waves—given the agreement with one another, earlier station data studies, and theory. Where significant differences exist between the results from the two data assimilation systems they expectably do so over the tropical Atlantic, and in fields that are not directly observed (such as vertical velocity).

The situation with the GCM is not as favorable but there are some encouraging areas of agreement—despite the GCM’s relatively coarse resolution and absence of observed data to constrain it. Selected points of agreement and disagreement between the GCM and the analyses include the following. (i) The GCM African easterly wave energetics are comparable with the analyses in terms of the sign and magnitude of the energy transfers from the time-mean state to the waves. (ii) The northern track of easterly waves seen in the analyses terminates prematurely in the GCM at the African coast. (iii) The southerly track of moist easterly waves seen in the analyses near the seasonal rainband is absent in the GCM. Possible reasons for the deficiencies are discussed.

The sensitivity of the GCM-simulated African easterly waves to CO2 doubling is investigated. Together with significant mean warming and moistening over the northern Sahara, the level of simulated African easterly wave activity increases with CO2 doubling.

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John C. Fyfe

Abstract

Changes in the naturally occurring modes of extratropical annual mean and zonal mean zonal wind variability are investigated using National Centers for Environmental Prediction–National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP–NCAR) reanalyses and Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis (CCCma) global climate model simulations. In the Northern Hemisphere, the first and second modes are primarily stratospheric and tropospheric in character, respectively. The surface pressure manifestations of these modes are intimately linked to the Arctic Oscillation (AO), and together suggest separate stratospheric and tropospheric origins for the AO. In the Southern Hemisphere, the first mode describes north–south shifts in the polar front jet accompanied by polar stratospheric jet fluctuations and Antarctic Oscillation (AAO)-like surface pressure anomalies. The second mode is primarily tropospheric and describes interannual changes in the strength and position of the polar front jet.

The leading observed modes appear unchanged in strength since the 1950s except in the Northern Hemisphere where the second mode shows some evidence of increasing strength. The leading simulated modes appear unchanged in strength since the beginning of the twentieth century, and are predicted to remain so to the end of the twenty-first century. In all cases the leading modes are superimposed upon significant mean change, which when not properly accounted for can lead to erroneous conclusions.

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John C. Fyfe

Abstract

In concert with a poleward shift in baroclinicity, the synoptic environment south of 40°S appears to have changed significantly over recent decades. South of 40°S and north of the Antarctic Ocean the number of cyclones has dramatically decreased, while over the Antarctic Ocean a modest increase has occurred. A global climate model with anthropogenic forcing produces similar historical changes, and under a “business-as-usual” emissions scenario predicts that the number of sub-Antarctic Ocean cyclones will drop by over 30% between now and century's end.

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Michael Sigmond and John C. Fyfe

Abstract

It has been suggested that the increase of Southern Hemisphere sea ice extent since the 1970s can be explained by ozone depletion in the Southern Hemisphere stratosphere. In a previous study, the authors have shown that in a coupled atmosphere–ocean–sea ice model the ozone hole does not lead to an increase but to a decrease in sea ice extent. Here, the robustness of this result is established through the analysis of models from phases 3 and 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3 and CMIP5). Comparison of the mean sea ice trends in CMIP3 models with and without time-varying stratospheric ozone suggests that ozone depletion is associated with decreased sea ice extent, and ozone recovery acts to mitigate the future sea ice decrease associated with increasing greenhouse gases. All available historical simulations with CMIP5 models that were designed to isolate the effect of time-varying ozone concentrations show decreased sea ice extent in response to historical ozone trends. In most models, the historical sea ice extent trends are mainly driven by historical greenhouse gas forcing, with ozone forcing playing a secondary role.

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John C. Fyfe and David J. Lorenz

Abstract

Fluctuations in the tropospheric zonal jet are often characterized using anomaly patterns, or empirical orthogonal functions, representing deviations of the zonal-mean flow from climatology. In previous studies the leading anomaly pattern has been interpreted as representing north–south jet movements, while the second anomaly pattern has been interpreted as representing independent fluctuations in jet strength and width. Here it is shown that these leading anomaly patterns are in fact dependent and together represent north–south movements of the jet. Fluctuations in jet strength, which are approximately inversely proportional to jet width, superimpose upon these dominant north–south meanderings. The distinction between the usual anomaly pattern perspective and this new perspective may have important implications in the interpretation of tropospheric zonal jet variability.

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Adam H. Monahan and John C. Fyfe

Abstract

Analytic results are obtained for the mean and covariance structure of an idealized zonal jet that fluctuates in strength, position, and width. Through a systematic perturbation analysis, the leading empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs) and principal component (PC) time series are obtained. These EOFs are built of linear combinations of basic patterns corresponding to monopole, dipole, and tripole structures. The analytic results demonstrate that in general the individual EOF modes cannot be interpreted in terms of individual physical processes. In particular, while the dipole EOF (similar to the leading EOF of the midlatitude zonal mean zonal wind) describes fluctuations in jet position to leading order, its time series also contains contributions from fluctuations in strength and width. No simple interpretations of the other EOFs in terms of strength, position, or width fluctuations are possible. Implications of these results for the use of EOF analysis to diagnose physical processes of variability are discussed.

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Adam H. Monahan and John C. Fyfe

Abstract

Dipolar structures arise as empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs) of extratropical tropospheric zonal-mean zonal wind in observations, in idealized dynamical models, and in complex general circulation models. This study characterizes the conditions under which dipoles emerge as EOFs of a jet of fixed shape f (x), which takes a unique localized extremum and is smooth but is otherwise arbitrary, characterized by fluctuations in strength, position, and width of arbitrary distribution. It is shown that the factors that influence the extent to which a dipolelike structure will arise as an EOF are (i) the skewness of position fluctuations, (ii) the dependence of position fluctuations on strength and width fluctuations, and (iii) the relative strength of the position and width fluctuations. In particular, the leading EOF will be a dipole if jet position fluctuations are not strongly skewed, not strongly dependent on strength and width fluctuations, and sufficiently large relative to strength and width fluctuations. Because these conditions are generally satisfied to a good approximation by observed and simulated tropospheric eddy-driven jets, this analysis provides a simple explanation of the ubiquity of dipolar jet EOFs.

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Adam H. Monahan and John C. Fyfe

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This study considers the relation of the annular mode to the kinematics of a fluctuating jet in zonal-mean zonal wind and to the zonal index, using an idealized model of fluctuations in the eddy-driven jet. When the sphericity of the domain is accounted for, observed and numerically simulated annular modes for the Southern Hemisphere summertime are found to be in excellent agreement. In particular, the annular mode and zonal index mode are shown to be related but distinct. Although the annular mode is strongly (but not identically) related to fluctuations in jet position, fluctuations in jet strength and width are shown to also be important for its simulation. When the sphericity of the domain is neglected, analytic expressions for the leading empirical orthogonal function (EOF) modes of zonal-mean geopotential for the cases of individual fluctuations in jet strength, position, and width can be obtained. None of these EOF modes have the characteristics of the annular mode. In the presence of simultaneous fluctuations in jet strength and position, the leading zonal-mean geopotential EOF mode (strongly resembling the annular mode) is shown to mix the zonal index mode of zonal-mean zonal wind with other EOF modes, demonstrating why the annular mode and zonal index mode are related but distinct. The greater sensitivity to domain size of EOF modes of geopotential relative to the EOF modes of zonal-mean zonal wind is also discussed. This study focuses on the Southern Hemisphere summertime, which is characterized by a single, eddy-driven jet; the generality of the results presented suggest that the conclusions should be qualitatively unchanged in the presence of both subtropical and eddy-driven jets.

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John C. Fyfe and Gregory M. Flato

Abstract

Results from an ensemble of climate change experiments with increasing greenhouse gas and aerosols using the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis Coupled Climate Model are presented with a focus on surface quantities over the Rocky Mountains. There is a marked elevation dependency of the simulated surface screen temperature increase over the Rocky Mountains in the winter and spring seasons, with more pronounced changes at higher elevations. The elevation signal is linked to a rise in the snow line in the winter and spring seasons, which amplifies the surface warming via the snow-albedo feedback. Analysis of the winter surface energy budget shows that large changes in the solar component of the radiative input are the direct consequence of surface albedo changes caused by decreasing snow cover.

Although the warming signal is enhanced at higher elevations, a two-way analysis of variance reveals that the elevation effect has no potential for early climate change detection. In the early stages of surface warming the elevation effect is masked by relatively large noise, so that the signal-to-noise ratio over the Rocky Mountains is no larger than elsewhere. Only after significant continental-scale warming does the local Rocky Mountain signal begin to dominate the pattern of climate change over western North America (and presumably also the surrounding ecosystems and hydrological networks).

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