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S. Manabe
and
R. T. Wetherald

Abstract

The change in soil wetness in response to an increase of atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is investigated by two versions of a climate model which consists of a general circulation model of the atmosphere and a static mixed layer ocean. In the first version of the model, the distribution of cloud cover is specified whereas it is computed in the second version incorporating the interaction among cloud cover, radiative transfer and the atmospheric circulation. The CO2-induced changes of climate and hydrology are evaluated based upon a comparison between two quasi-equilibrium climates of a model with a normal and an above normal concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

It is shown that, in response to a doubling (or quadrupling) of atmospheric carbon dioxide, soil moisture is reduced in summer over extensive midcontinental regions of both North America and Eurasia in middle and high latitudes. Based upon the budget analysis of heat and water, the physical mechanisms responsible for the CO2-induced changes of soil moisture are determined for the following four regions: northern Canada, northern Siberia, the Great Plains of North America and southern Europe. It is found that, over northern Canada and northern Siberia, the CO2-induced reduction of soil moisture in summer results from the earlier occurrence of the snowmelt season followed by a period of intense evaporation. Over the Great Plains of North America, the earlier termination of the snowmelt season also contributes to the reduction of soil moisture during the summer season. In addition, the rainy period of late spring ends earlier, thus enhancing the CO2-induced reduction of soil moisture in summer. In the model with variable cloud cover, the summer dryness over the Great Plains is enhanced further by a reduction of cloud amount and precipitation in the lower model atmosphere. This reduction of cloud amount increases the solar energy reaching the continental surface and the rate of potential evaporation. Both the decrease of precipitation and the increase of potential evaporation further reduce the soil moisture during early summer and help to maintain it at a low level throughout the summer. Over Southern Europe, the CO2-induced reduction of soil wetness occurs in a qualitatively similar manner, although the relative magnitude of the contribution from the change in snowmelt is smaller.

During winter, soil moisture increases poleward of 30°N in response to an increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Because of the CO2-induced warming, a greater fraction of the total precipitation occurs as rainfall rather than snowfall. The warmer atmosphere also causes the accumulated snow cover to melt during winter. Both processes act to increase the soil moisture in all four regions during the winter season. The increase of soil moisture is enhanced further in high latitudes due to the increase of precipitation resulting from the penetration of warm, moisture-rich air into higher latitudes.

The CO2-induced warming of the lower model troposphere increases with increasing latitude. The present analysis suggests that the changes of soil wetness described in this investigation are controlled by the latitudinal profile of the warming and are very broad scale, mid-continental phenomena.

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R. T. Wetherald
and
S. Manabe

Abstract

To improve understanding of the mechanisms responsible for CO2-induced, midcontinental summer dryness obtained by earlier modeling studies, several integrations were performed using a GCM with idealized geography. The simulated reduction of soil moisture in middle latitudes begins in late spring and is caused by the excess of evaporation over precipitation. The increase of carbon dioxide and the associated increase of atmospheric water vapor enhances the downward flux of terrestrial radiation at the continental surface at all latitudes. However, due mainly to the CO2-induced change in midtropospheric relative humidity, the increase in the downward flux of terrestrial radiation is larger in the equatorward side of the rain belt, making more energy available there for both sensible and latent heat. Since the saturation vapor pressure at the surface increases nonlinearly with surface temperature, a greater fraction of the additional radiative energy is realized as latent heat flux at the expense of sensible heat. Therefore, evaporation increases more than precipitation over the land surface in the equatorward side of the rain belt during spring and early summer and initiates the drying of the soil there. As the rain belt moves poleward from spring to summer, the soil moisture decreases in middle latitudes, reducing the rate of evaporation. This reduction of evaporation, in turn, causes a corresponding decreases of precipitation in middle latitudes. keeping the soil dry throughout the summer.

In high latitudes, there is also a tendency for increased summer dryness. As noted in our previous studies, this feature mainly results from the earlier removal of highly reflective snow cover in spring, which enhances the evaporation in the late spring. lengthening the period of drying during the summer season. A similar mechanism also operates in middle latitudes, but its contribution is relatively small. The drying of soil is also enhanced by the land surface-cloud interaction in both middle and high latitudes. Owing to the reduction of cloud cover that results from the decrease of relative humidity in the lower troposphere, solar radiation absorbed by the continental surface increases, thereby enhancing evaporation and further reducing the soil moisture in summer.

Although there is additional radiative energy available at the surface during winter. a greater fraction of it occurs as sensible heat rather than latent heat due to the colder surface temperature, thereby causing evaporation to increase less than precipitation. Because of the increased evaporation from the oceanic surface upstream whose temperature is warmer than the continental region in winter, precipitation over most of the continent increases substantially.

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R. T. Wetherald
and
S. Manabe

Abstract

The influence of the cloud feedback process upon the sensitivity of climate is investigated by comparing the behavior of two versions of a climate model with predicted and prescribed cloud cover. The model used for this study is a general circulation model of the atmosphere coupled with a mixed layer model of the oceans. The sensitivity of each version of the model is inferred from the equilibrium response of the model to a doubling of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide.

It is found that the cloud feedback process in the present model enhances the sensitivity of the model climate. In response to the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide, cloudiness increases around the tropopause and is reduced in the upper troposphere, thereby raising the height of the cloud layer in the upper troposphere. This rise of the high cloud layer implies a reduction of the temperature of the cloud top and, accordingly, of the upward terrestrial radiation from the top of the model atmosphere. Thus, the heat loss from the atmosphere-earth system of the model is reduced. As the high cloud layer rises, the vertical distribution of cloudiness changes, thereby affecting the absorption of solar radiation by the model atmosphere. At most latitudes the effect of reduced cloud amount in the upper troposphere overshadows that of increased cloudiness around the tropopause, thereby lowering the global mean planetary albedo and enhancing the CO2 induced warming.

On the other hand, the increase of low cloudiness in high latitudes raises the planetary albedo and thus decreases the CO2 induced warming of climate. However, the contribution of this negative feedback process is much smaller than the effect of the positive feedback process involving the change of high cloud.

The model used here does not take into consideration the possible change in the optical properties of clouds due to the change of their liquid water content. In view of the extreme idealization in the formulation of the cloud feedback process in the model, this study should be regarded as a study of the mechanisms involved in this process rather than the quantitative assessment of its influence on the sensitivity of climate.

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R. J. Stouffer
and
R. T. Wetherald

Abstract

This study documents the temperature variance change in two different versions of a coupled ocean–atmosphere general circulation model forced with estimates of future increases of greenhouse gas (GHG) and aerosol concentrations. The variance changes are examined using an ensemble of 8 transient integrations for the older model version and 10 transient integrations for the newer one. Monthly and annual data are used to compute the mean and variance changes. Emphasis is placed upon computing and analyzing the variance changes for the middle of the twenty-first century and compared with those found in a control integration.

The large-scale variance of lower-tropospheric temperature (including surface air temperature) generally decreases in high latitudes particularly during fall due to a delayed onset of sea ice as the climate warms. Sea ice acts to insolate the atmosphere from the much larger heat capacity of the ocean. Therefore, the near-surface temperature variance tends to be larger over the sea ice–covered regions, than the nearby ice-free regions. The near-surface temperature variance also decreases during the winter and spring due to a general reduction in the extent of sea ice during winter and spring.

Changes in storminess were also examined and were found to have relatively little effect upon the reduction of temperature variance. Generally small changes of surface air temperature variance occurred in low and midlatitudes over both land and oceanic areas year-round. An exception to this was a general reduction of variance in the equatorial Pacific Ocean for the newer model. Small increases in the surface air temperature variance occur in mid- to high latitudes during the summer months, suggesting the possibility of more frequent and longer-lasting heat waves in response to increasing GHGs.

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T-C. Yeh
,
R. T. Wetherald
, and
S. Manabe

Abstract

This paper describes a series of numerical experiments simulating the effect of large-scale irrigation on short-term changes of hydrology and climate. This is done through the use of a simple general circulation model, with a limited computational domain and idealized geography.

The soil at three latitude bands, namely 30°N–60°N, 0–30°N, and 15°S–15°N is initially saturated with moisture. The results from these experiments indicate that irrigation affects not only the distribution of evaporation but also that of large-scale precipitation. It is found that the anomalies of soil moisture created by irrigation of these respective latitude zones can persist for at least several months due to increased evaporation and precipitation. Furthermore, it the irrigated region is located under a rainbelt, precipitation in that rainbelt is enhanced. Conversely, if the irrigated region is not located under a rainbelt, much of the additional moisture is transported to a rainbelt outside this area. Thus the moist moisture anomaly for the 30°N–60°N cast which is located under the middle latitude rainbelt tends to persist longer than the corresponding anomaly for the 0–30°N case.

Although both the 30°N–60°N and 15°S–15°N latitude regions occur under rainbelts, the soil moisture anomaly for the 15°S–15°N case does not persist as long as it does for the 30°N–60°N case. This is because in the 15°S–15°N case, a much greater fraction of the increased precipitation is lost from the hydrologic cycle due to runoff there as compared with the 30°N-60°N case.

The above changes of the hydrological processes also cause corresponding changes of the thermal state of the atmosphere such as a cooling of the surface due to increased evaporation. This results in change of the mean zonal circulation through the thermal wind relationship. It is found that irrigation in the tropical region weakens the upward branch of the Hadley circulation in the vicinity of the tropical rainbelt.

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T-C. Yeh
,
R. T. Wetherald
, and
S. Manabe

Abstract

This paper describes the results from a set of numerical experiments which stimulate the effect of a large-scale removal of snow cover in middle and high latitudes during the early spring season. This is done through use of a simplified general circulation model with a limited computational domain and idealized geography.

It is found that removal of snow cover reduces the water available to the soil through snowmelt and decreases soil moisture in this region during the following seasons. Furthermore, it also reduces surface albedo in this region and increases absorption of insolation by the ground surface. This, in turn, heats the ground surface and allows more evaporation to occur. However, the change of evaporation is relatively small owing to the low values of surface temperature in high latitudes. Therefore, the negative anomaly of soil moisture induced initially by the removal of snow cover persists for the entire spring and summer seasons.

The removal of snow cover also affects the thermal and dynamical structure of the atmosphere. It is found that the increase of surface temperature extends into the upper troposphere thereby reducing both meridional temperature gradient and zonal wind in high latitudes.

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