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Qinxue Gu and Melissa Gervais

Abstract

Decadal climate prediction can provide invaluable information for decisions made by government agencies and industry. Modes of internal variability of the ocean play an important role in determining the climate on decadal time scales. This study explores the possibility of using self-organizing maps (SOMs) to identify decadal climate variability, measure theoretical decadal predictability, and conduct decadal predictions of internal climate variability within a long control simulation. SOM is applied to an 11-yr running-mean winter sea surface temperature (SST) in the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans within the Community Earth System Model 1850 preindustrial simulation to identify patterns of internal variability in SSTs. Transition probability tables are calculated to identify preferred paths through the SOM with time. Results show both persistence and preferred evolutions of SST depending on the initial SST pattern. This method also provides a measure of the predictability of these SST patterns, with the North Atlantic being predictable at longer lead times than the North Pacific. In addition, decadal SST predictions using persistence, a first-order Markov chain, and lagged transition probabilities are conducted. The lagged transition probability predictions have a reemergence of prediction skill around lag 15 for both domains. Although the prediction skill is very low, it does imply that the SOM has the ability to predict some aspects of the internal variability of the system beyond 10 years.

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Melissa Gervais, Jeffrey Shaman, and Yochanan Kushnir

Abstract

In future climate simulations there is a pronounced region of reduced warming in the subpolar gyre of the North Atlantic Ocean known as the North Atlantic warming hole (NAWH). This study investigates the impact of the North Atlantic warming hole on atmospheric circulation and midlatitude jets within the Community Earth System Model (CESM). A series of large-ensemble atmospheric model experiments with prescribed sea surface temperature (SST) and sea ice are conducted, in which the warming hole is either filled or deepened. Two mechanisms through which the NAWH impacts the atmosphere are identified: a linear response characterized by a shallow atmospheric cooling and increase in sea level pressure shifted slightly downstream of the SST changes, and a transient eddy forced response whereby the enhanced SST gradient produced by the NAWH leads to increased transient eddy activity that propagates vertically and enhances the midlatitude jet. The relative contributions of these two mechanisms and the details of the response are strongly dependent on the season, time period, and warming hole strength. Our results indicate that the NAWH plays an important role in midlatitude atmospheric circulation changes in CESM future climate simulations.

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Melissa Gervais, Jeffrey Shaman, and Yochanan Kushnir

Abstract

In future climate projections there is a notable lack of warming in the North Atlantic subpolar gyre, known as the North Atlantic warming hole (NAWH). In a set of large-ensemble atmospheric simulations with the Community Earth System Model, the NAWH was previously shown to contribute to the projected poleward shift and eastward elongation of the North Atlantic jet. The current study investigates the impact of the warming hole on sensible weather, particularly over Europe, using the same simulations. North Atlantic jet regimes are classified within the model simulations by applying self-organizing maps analysis to winter daily wind speeds on the dynamic tropopause. The NAWH is found to increase the prevalence of jet regimes with stronger and more-poleward-shifted jets. A previously identified transient eddy-mean response to the NAWH that leads to a downstream enhancement of wind speeds is found to be dependent on the jet regime. These localized regime-specific changes vary by latitude and strength, combining to form the broad increase in seasonal-mean wind speeds over Eurasia. Impacts on surface temperature and precipitation within the various North Atlantic jet regimes are also investigated. A large decrease in surface temperature over Eurasia is found to be associated with the NAWH in regimes where air masses are advected eastward over the subpolar gyre prior to reaching Eurasia. Precipitation is found to be locally suppressed over the warming hole region and increased directly downstream. The impact of this downstream response on coastal European precipitation is dependent on the strength of the NAWH.

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Melissa Gervais, Jeffrey Shaman, and Yochanan Kushnir

Abstract

A warming deficit in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures is a striking feature in global climate model future projections. This North Atlantic warming hole has been related to a slowing of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC); however, the detailed mechanisms involved in its generation remain an open question. An analysis of the Community Earth System Model Large Ensemble simulations is conducted to obtain further insight into the development of the warming hole and its relationship to the AMOC. It is shown that increasing freshwater fluxes through the Arctic gates lead to surface freshening and reduced Labrador Sea deep convection, which in turn act to cool Labrador Sea sea surface temperatures. Furthermore, the resulting changes in surface ocean circulation lead to enhanced transport of cooled Labrador Sea surface waters into the interior of the subpolar gyre and a more zonal orientation of the North Atlantic Current. As a result, there is an increase in ocean advective heat flux divergence within the center of the subpolar gyre, causing this warming deficit in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures. These local changes to the ocean circulation affect the AMOC and lead to its slowdown.

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Melissa Gervais, Eyad Atallah, John R. Gyakum, and L. Bruno Tremblay

Abstract

An important aspect of understanding the impacts of climate change on society is determining how the distribution of weather regimes will change. Arctic amplification results in greater warming over the Arctic compared to the midlatitudes, and this study examines how patterns of Arctic air masses will be affected. The authors employ the Community Earth System Model Large Ensemble (CESM-LE) RCP 8.5, consisting of 30 ensemble members run through the twenty-first century. Self-organizing maps are used to define archetypes of 850-hPa equivalent potential temperature anomalies with respect to a changing climate and assess changes in their frequency of occurrence. In the model, a pattern with negative anomalies over the central Arctic becomes less frequent in the future. There is also an increase in the frequency of patterns associated with an amplified ridge (trough) with positive (negative) anomalies over western (eastern) North America. It is hypothesized that the increase in frequency of such patterns is the result of enhanced forcing of baroclinic waves owing to reduced sea ice over the western Arctic. There is also a decline in patterns that have anomalously high over the North Atlantic, a pattern that is associated with intense ridging in the 500-hPa flow over the North Atlantic and colder over Europe. The authors relate the decrease of these patterns to an enhancement of the North Atlantic jet induced by a warming deficit in the North Atlantic Ocean.

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Melissa Gervais, L. Bruno Tremblay, John R. Gyakum, and Eyad Atallah

Abstract

This study focuses on errors in extreme precipitation in gridded station products incurred during the upscaling of station measurements to a grid, referred to as representativeness errors. Gridded precipitation station analyses are valuable observational data sources with a wide variety of applications, including model validation. The representativeness errors associated with two gridding methods are presented, consistent with either a point or areal average interpretation of model output, and it is shown that they differ significantly (up to 30%). An experiment is conducted to determine the errors associated with station density, through repeated gridding of station data within the United States using subsequently fewer stations. Two distinct error responses to reduced station density are found, which are attributed to differences in the spatial homogeneity of precipitation distributions. The error responses characterize the eastern and western United States, which are respectively more and less homogeneous. As the station density decreases, the influence of stations farther from the analysis point increases, and therefore, if the distributions are inhomogeneous in space, the analysis point is influenced by stations with very different precipitation distributions. Finally, ranges of potential percent representativeness errors of the median and extreme precipitation across the United States are created for high-resolution (0.25°) and low-resolution areal averaged (0.9° lat × 1.25° lon) precipitation fields. For example, the range of the representativeness errors is estimated, for annual extreme precipitation, to be from +16% to −12% in the low-resolution data, when station density is 5 stations per 0.9° lat × 1.25° lon grid box.

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Melissa Gervais, John R. Gyakum, Eyad Atallah, L. Bruno Tremblay, and Richard B. Neale

Abstract

An intercomparison of the distribution and extreme values of daily precipitation between the National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Climate System Model, version 4 (CCSM4) and several observational/reanalysis data sources are conducted over the contiguous United States and southern Canada. The use of several data sources, from gridded station, satellite, and reanalysis products, provides a measure of errors in the reference datasets. An examination of specific locations shows that the global climate model (GCM) distributions closely match the observations along the East and West Coasts, with larger discrepancies in the Great Plains and Rockies. In general, the distribution of model precipitation is more positively skewed (more light and less heavy precipitation) in the Great Plains and the eastern United States compared to gridded station observations, a recurring error in GCMs. In the Rocky Mountains the GCMs generally overproduce precipitation relative to the observations and furthermore have a more negatively skewed distribution, with fewer lower daily precipitation values relative to higher values. Extreme precipitation tends to be underestimated in regions and time periods typically characterized by large amounts of convective precipitation. This is shown to be the result of errors in the parameterization of convective precipitation that have been seen in previous model versions. However, comparison against several data sources reveals that model errors in extreme precipitation are approaching the magnitude of the disparity between the reference products. This highlights the existence of large errors in some of the products employed as observations for validation purposes.

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