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Haijun Yang and Qiong Zhang

Abstract

A revisit on observations shows that the tropical El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variability, after removing both the long-term trend and decadal variation of the background climate, has been enhanced by as much as 50% during the past 50 yr. This is inconsistent with the changes in the equatorial atmosphere, which shows a slowdown of the zonal Walker circulation and tends to stabilize the tropical coupling system. The ocean role is highlighted in this paper. The enhanced ENSO variability is attributed to the strengthened equatorial thermocline that acts as a destabilizing factor of the tropical coupling system. To quantify the dynamic effect of the ocean on the ENSO variability under the global warming, ensemble experiments are performed using a coupled climate model [Fast Ocean Atmosphere Model (FOAM)], following the “1pctto2x” scenario defined in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports. Term balance analyses on the temperature variability equation show that the anomalous upwelling of the mean vertical temperature gradient (referred as the “local term”) in the eastern equatorial Pacific is the most important destabilizing factor to the temperature variabilities. The magnitude of local term and its change are controlled by its two components: the mean vertical temperature gradient T z and the “virtual vertical heat flux” −wT ′. The former can be viewed as the background of the latter and these two components are positively correlated. A stronger T z is usually associated with a bigger upward heat flux −wT ′, which implies a bigger impact of thermocline depth variations on SST. The T z is first enhanced during the transient stage of the global warming with a 1% yr−1 increase of CO2, and then reduced during the equilibrium stage with a fixed doubled CO2. This turnaround in T z determines the turnaround of ENSO variability in the entire global warming period.

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Aoqi Zhang, Yilun Chen, Xiangdong Zhang, Qiong Zhang, and Yunfei Fu

Abstract

Despite the long existence of theoretical studies, few statistical studies of precipitation characteristics on the northern Pacific storm track have been reported due to lack of observation. Using data from GPM DPR and ERA-Interim, we examined the precipitation features of extratropical cyclones in the northern Pacific storm-track region. Extratropical cyclones were classified into four categories including developing, mature, dissipating, and short-term based on their life stages. Our results show that extratropical cyclones of all categories had a “comma” rainband and precipitation mostly occurred to the east of the cyclonic center. The extratropical cyclones promote precipitation to the east of their centers, but suppress precipitation to the west. Precipitation to the east of the extratropical cyclones had larger and more condensed droplets, a stronger intensity, and a higher rain top than the local seasonal average, while the opposite characteristics were seen to the west. Our results suggest that the different types of vertical air motion and moisture content in these two regions induced by the frontal structure of extratropical cyclones play important roles in the different impact of extratropical cyclones. Furthermore, the different life stages of extratropical cyclones had different degrees of impact on precipitation: the highest impact in the developing stage, followed by the mature stage, and the weakest impact in the dissipating stage.

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Haijun Yang, Zhengyu Liu, and Qiong Zhang

Abstract

Oceanic response to stochastic wind forcing is studied in a tropical–extratropical basin using two shallow water models: a periodically forced model and a time-forward model. Consistent with theory, extratropical stochastic wind forces a decadal spectral peak in the tropical and eastern boundary ocean as a resonant response of the planetary wave basin mode. This resonant response is characterized by a rather uniform amplitude and phase in the equatorial and eastern boundary region. In comparison, away from the eastern boundary, the extratropical ocean is affected significantly by the local Ekman pumping forcing, with spectral peaks varying with location. A complex EOF (CEOF) analysis of the time-forward model simulation further suggests that these resonant responses are robust, and can be extracted as the leading CEOF modes. Thus, the resonance of the planetary wave basin mode gives a physically based guideline for the interpretation of decadal oceanic variability in the tropical–extratropical ocean.

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Qiong Zhang, Karin Holmgren, and Hanna Sundqvist

Abstract

A rainfall dipole mode characterized by negative correlation between subtropical southern Africa and equatorial eastern Africa is identified in instrumental observation data in the recent 100 years. The dipole mode shows a pronounced oscillation signal at a time scale of about 18 years. This study investigates the underlying dynamical mechanisms responsible for this dipole pattern.

It is found that the southern African rainfall dipole index is highly correlated to the land–sea contrast along the east coast of Africa. When the land–sea thermal contrast strengthens, the easterly flow toward the continent becomes stronger. The stronger easterly flow, via its response to east coast topography and surface heating, leads to a low pressure circulation anomaly over land south of the maximum easterly flow anomalies and thus causes more rainfall in the south.

On a decadal time scale, an ENSO-like SST pattern acts to modulate this land–sea contrast and the consequent rainfall dipole. During a “wet in the south and dry in the north” dipole, there are warm SSTs over the central Indian Ocean and cold SSTs over the western Indian Ocean. The cold SSTs over the western Indian Ocean further enhance the land–sea contrast during austral summer. Moreover, these cold western Indian Ocean SSTs also play an important role in regulating land temperature, thereby suppressing clouds and warming the land via increased shortwave radiation over the less-cloudy land. This cloud–SST coupling acts to further strengthen the land–sea contrast.

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Jinling Piao, Wen Chen, Qiong Zhang, and Peng Hu

Abstract

The moisture supplies over Siberia and Northeast Asia are investigated by comparing their similarities and differences, enlightened by the seesaw pattern in their summer precipitation. Based on the rotated empirical orthogonal functions in the 3-month standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI_03), Siberia and Northeast Asia are defined as the regions within 55°–70°N, 80°–115°E and 40°–55°N, 90°–115°E, respectively. Our results show that over both regions, evaporation contributes the most to the precipitation amount at the annual time scale, and moisture convergence contributes the most on the interannual time scale. For moisture convergence, both the stationary and transient terms are subject to impacts of the midlatitude westerlies. For the annual cycle, the net moisture supply over both Siberia and Northeast Asia is closely associated with both stationary and transient moisture transport. However, on the interannual time scale, the net moisture convergence is closely related to the stationary term only. The examination of the boundary moisture transport shows that in addition to the zonal component, the meridional stationary moisture transport plays a key role in the net moisture convergence. The transient moisture transport mainly depends on moisture transport through the western and southern boundaries, with a comparable magnitude to that of the stationary one, further confirming the importance of the stationary and transient terms on the moisture supply for the annual cycle. In addition, the circulations responsible for moisture transport anomalies indicate that the stationary moisture circulation is the key factor for the moisture supply anomalies over both Siberia and Northeast Asia, with limited impacts from the transient moisture circulation.

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Jinling Piao, Wen Chen, Shangfeng Chen, Hainan Gong, and Qiong Zhang

Abstract

Previous studies found a seesaw pattern of summer precipitation between northeast Asia and east Siberia on an interannual time scale, which is associated with an eastward-propagating atmospheric wave train over Eurasia and corresponding water vapor transport circulations. Using a general circulation model with an embedded water-tagging module, the main water vapor sources of the two regions, as well as the relative contributions of each source region to the total precipitation for both the climatological mean and interdecadal variation, are further compared in this study. The model simulation results show that local evaporation, the Pacific Ocean, and East Asia are the dominant moisture sources for northeast Asian precipitation. In contrast, for east Siberia, moisture mainly originates from the Pacific Ocean, northeast Asia, west Siberia, and local evaporation. This suggests that the local evaporation and Pacific Ocean are both crucial to the moisture supply of the two regions, implying the important roles of the land processes and adjacent oceanic sources. In addition, northeast Asia appears to be the major moisture source for east Siberia, whereas east Siberia has weak impacts on the moisture input for northeast Asia. Further analysis finds that the model simulation can capture interdecadal changes in summer precipitation over the two regions around the late 1990s. This interdecadal change is mainly manifested in the moisture supplies from the Pacific Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, and east Siberia, which suggests a link with the circulation anomalies under the combined impacts of the Pacific decadal oscillation and the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation.

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Qiong Wu, Hong-Qing Wang, Yi-Zhou Zhuang, Yin-Jing Lin, Yan Zhang, and Sai-Sai Ding

Abstract

Three infrared (IR) indicators were included in this study: the 10.8-μm brightness temperature (BT10.8), the BT difference between 12.0 and 10.8 μm (BTD12.0–10.8), and the BT difference between 6.7 and 10.8 μm (BTD6.7–10.8). Correlations among these IR indicators were investigated using MTSAT-1R images for summer 2007 over East Asia. Temporal, spatial, and numerical frequency distributions were used to represent the correlations. The results showed that large BTD12.0–10.8 values can be observed in the growth of cumulus congestus and associated with the boundary of different terrain where convection was more likely to generate and develop. The results also showed that numerical correlation between any two IR indicators could be expressed by two-dimensional histograms (HT2D). Because of differences in the tropopause heights and in the temperature and water vapor fields, the shapes of the HT2Ds varied with latitude and the type of underlying surface. After carefully analyzing the correlations among the IR indicators, a conceptual model of the convection life cycle was constructed according to these HT2Ds. A new cloud convection index (CCI) was defined with the combination of BTD12.0–10.8 and BTD6.7–10.8 on the basis of the conceptual model. The preliminary test results demonstrated that CCI could effectively identify convective clouds. CCI value and its time trend could reflect the growth or decline of convective clouds.

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Qiong Wu, Hong-Qing Wang, Yin-Jing Lin, Yi-Zhou Zhuang, and Yan Zhang

Abstract

An optical flow algorithm based on polynomial expansion (OFAPE) was used to derive atmospheric motion vectors (AMVs) from geostationary satellite images. In OFAPE, there are two parameters that can affect the AMV results: the sizes of the expansion window and optimization window. They should be determined according to the temporal interval and spatial resolution of satellite images. A helpful experiment was conducted for selecting those sizes. The limitations of window sizes can cause loss of strong wind speed, and an image-pyramid scheme was used to overcome this problem. Determining the heights of AMVs for semitransparent cloud pixels (STCPs) is challenging work in AMV derivation. In this study, two-dimensional histograms (H2Ds) between infrared brightness temperatures (6.7- and 10.8-μm channels) formed from a long time series of cloud images were used to identify the STCPs and to estimate their actual temperatures/heights. The results obtained from H2Ds were contrasted with CloudSat radar reflectivity and CALIPSO cloud-feature mask data. Finally, in order to verify the algorithm adaptability, three-month AMVs (JJA 2013) were calculated and compared with the wind fields of ERA data and the NOAA/ESRL radiosonde observations in three aspects: speed, direction, and vector difference.

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Marco Gaetani, Gabriele Messori, Qiong Zhang, Cyrille Flamant, and Francesco S. R. Pausata

Abstract

Understanding the West African monsoon (WAM) dynamics in the mid-Holocene (MH) is a crucial issue in climate modeling, because numerical models typically fail to reproduce the extensive precipitation suggested by proxy evidence. This discrepancy may be largely due to the assumption of both unrealistic land surface cover and atmospheric aerosol concentration. In this study, the MH environment is simulated in numerical experiments by imposing extensive vegetation over the Sahara and the consequent reduction in airborne dust concentration. A dramatic increase in precipitation is simulated across the whole of West Africa, up to the Mediterranean coast. This precipitation response is in better agreement with proxy data, in comparison with the case in which only changes in orbital forcing are considered. Results show a substantial modification of the monsoonal circulation, characterized by an intensification of large-scale deep convection through the entire Sahara, and a weakening and northward shift (~6.5°) of the African easterly jet. The greening of the Sahara also leads to a substantial reduction in the African easterly wave activity and associated precipitation. The reorganization of the regional atmospheric circulation is driven by the vegetation effect on radiative forcing and associated heat fluxes, with the reduction in dust concentration to enhance this response. The results for the WAM in the MH present important implications for understanding future climate scenarios in the region and in teleconnected areas, in the context of projected wetter conditions in West Africa.

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Weiyi Sun, Bin Wang, Qiong Zhang, Deliang Chen, Guonian Lu, and Jian Liu

Abstract

Understanding climate change in the Middle East (ME) is crucial because people’s living environment depends on rain-fed crop systems. It remains unclear whether the ME climate would be affected by the Saharan vegetation collapse at the end of the mid-Holocene (MH). Proxy data suggest a transition from humid to more arid ME conditions during the period of 6.5–5 kyr BP. Using a set of idealized sensitivity experiments with an Earth system model (EC-Earth), we infer that the shift of Saharan vegetation plays a role in this wet-to-dry transition over the ME. The experimental results show that the Saharan greening can significantly increase the late winter and early spring precipitation over the ME. The reason is that the vegetation decreases the surface albedo, which induces a warming in North Africa and generation of an anomalous low-level cyclonic flow, which transports moisture from tropical North Africa and the Red Sea to the ME. The moisture also flows from the Mediterranean Sea region to the ME through the enhanced mid- to upper-level westerlies. The enhanced moisture carried by westerly and southwesterly flows is lifted upon reaching Mesopotamia and the Zagros Mountains, substantially increasing the precipitation there. When the Sahara greening is removed, a drier condition happens in the ME. The crop model simulation further shows a substantial decrease in wheat yield in Mesopotamia with the reduction of Saharan vegetation, which is consistent with paleoclimatic reconstructions. These results imply that future changes in Saharan land cover may have climatic and agricultural impacts in the Middle East.

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