Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 17 items for

  • Author or Editor: Sarah M. Kang x
  • Refine by Access: All Content x
Clear All Modify Search
Sarah M. Kang and Jian Lu

Abstract

A scaling relationship is introduced to explain the seasonality in the outer boundary of the Hadley cell in both climatology and trend in the simulations of phase 3 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3). In the climatological state, the summer cell reaches higher latitudes than the winter cell since the Hadley cell in summer deviates more from the angular momentum conserving state, resulting in weaker upper-level zonal winds, which enables the Hadley cell to extend farther poleward before becoming baroclinically unstable. The Hadley cell can also reach farther poleward as the ITCZ gets farther away from the equator; hence, the Hadley cell extends farther poleward in solstices than in equinoxes. In terms of trend, a robust poleward expansion of the Hadley cell is diagnosed in all seasons with global warming. The scaling analysis indicates this is mostly due to an increase in the subtropical static stability, which pushes poleward the baroclinically unstable zone and hence the poleward edge of the Hadley cell. The relation between the trends in the Hadley cell edge and the ITCZ is also discussed.

Full access
Sarah M. Kang and Lorenzo M. Polvani

Abstract

A strong correlation between the latitudes of the eddy-driven jet and of the Hadley cell edge, on interannual time scales, is found to exist during austral summer, in both the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis and the models participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, phase 3 (CMIP3). In addition, a universal ratio close to 1:2 characterizes the robust connection between these two latitudes on a year-to-year basis: for a 2° shift of the eddy-driven jet, the edge of the Hadley cell shifts by 1°. This 1:2 interannual ratio remains the same in response to climate change, even though the values of the two latitudes increase. The corresponding trends are also highly correlated; in the CMIP3 scenario integrations, however, no universal ratio appears to exist connecting these long-term trends. In austral winter and in the Northern Hemisphere, no strong interannual correlations are found.

Full access
Sarah M. Kang and Shang-Ping Xie

Abstract

This study shows that the magnitude of global surface warming greatly depends on the meridional distribution of surface thermal forcing. An atmospheric model coupled to an aquaplanet slab mixed layer ocean is perturbed by prescribing heating to the ocean mixed layer. The heating is distributed uniformly globally or confined to narrow tropical or polar bands, and the amplitude is adjusted to ensure that the global mean remains the same for all cases. Since the tropical temperature is close to a moist adiabat, the prescribed heating leads to a maximized warming near the tropopause, whereas the polar warming is trapped near the surface because of strong atmospheric stability. Hence, the surface warming is more effectively damped by radiation in the tropics than in the polar region. As a result, the global surface temperature increase is weak (strong) when the given amount of heating is confined to the tropical (polar) band. The degree of this contrast is shown to depend on water vapor– and cloud–radiative feedbacks that alter the effective strength of prescribed thermal forcing.

Full access
Sarah M. Kang, Dargan M. W. Frierson, and Isaac M. Held

Abstract

The response of tropical precipitation to extratropical thermal forcing is reexamined using an idealized moist atmospheric GCM that has no water vapor or cloud feedbacks, simplifying the analysis while retaining the aquaplanet configuration coupled to a slab ocean from the authors’ previous study. As in earlier studies, tropical precipitation in response to high-latitude forcing is skewed toward the warmed hemisphere. Comparisons with a comprehensive GCM in an identical aquaplanet, mixed-layer framework reveal that the tropical responses tend to be much larger in the comprehensive GCM as a result of positive cloud and water vapor feedbacks that amplify the imposed extratropical thermal forcing.

The magnitude of the tropical precipitation response in the idealized model is sensitive to convection scheme parameters. This sensitivity as well as the tropical precipitation response can be understood from a simple theory with two ingredients: the changes in poleward energy fluxes are predicted using a one-dimensional energy balance model and a measure of the “total gross moist stability” [Δm, which is defined as the total (mean plus eddy) atmospheric energy transport per unit mass transport] of the model tropics converts the energy flux change into a mass flux and a moisture flux change. The idealized model produces a low level of compensation of about 25% between the imposed oceanic flux and the resulting response in the atmospheric energy transport in the tropics regardless of the convection scheme parameter. Because Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Atmospheric Model 2 (AM2) with prescribed clouds and water vapor exhibits a similarly low level of compensation, it is argued that roughly 25% of the compensation is dynamically controlled through eddy energy fluxes. The sensitivity of the tropical response to the convection scheme in the idealized model results from different values of Δm: smaller Δm leads to larger tropical precipitation changes for the same response in the energy transport.

Full access
Sarah M. Kang, Clara Deser, and Lorenzo M. Polvani

Abstract

The uncertainty arising from internal climate variability in climate change projections of the Hadley circulation (HC) is presently unknown. In this paper it is quantified by analyzing a 40-member ensemble of integrations of the Community Climate System Model, version 3 (CCSM3), under the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A1B scenario over the period 2000–60. An additional set of 100-yr-long time-slice integrations with the atmospheric component of the same model [Community Atmosphere Model, version 3.0 (CAM3)] is also analyzed.

Focusing on simple metrics of the HC—its strength, width, and height—three key results emerge from the analysis of the CCSM3 ensemble. First, the projected weakening of the HC is almost entirely confined to the Northern Hemisphere, and is stronger in winter than in summer. Second, the projected widening of the HC occurs only in the winter season but in both hemispheres. Third, the projected rise of the tropical tropopause occurs in both hemispheres and in all seasons and is, by far, the most robust of the three metrics.

This paper shows further that uncertainty in future trends of the HC width is largely controlled by extratropical variability, while those of HC strength and height are associated primarily with tropical dynamics. Comparison of the CCSM3 and CAM3 integrations reveals that ocean–atmosphere coupling is the dominant source of uncertainty in future trends of HC strength and height and of the tropical mean meridional circulation in general. Finally, uncertainty in future trends of the hydrological cycle is largely captured by the uncertainty in future trends of the mean meridional circulation.

Full access
Jeongbin Seo, Sarah M. Kang, and Dargan M. W. Frierson

Abstract

A variety of recent studies have shown that extratropical heating anomalies can be remarkably effective at causing meridional shifts in the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ). But what latitudinal location of forcing is most effective at shifting the ITCZ? In a series of aquaplanet simulations with the GFDL Atmospheric Model, version 2 (AM2), coupled to a slab mixed layer ocean, it is shown that high-latitude forcing actually causes a larger shift in the ITCZ than when equivalent surface forcing is applied in the tropics. Equivalent simulations are run with an idealized general circulation model (GCM) without cloud and water vapor feedbacks, also coupled to an aquaplanet slab ocean, where the ITCZ response instead becomes weaker the farther the forcing is from the equator, indicating that radiative feedbacks must be important in AM2.

In the absence of radiative feedbacks, the tendency for anomalies to decrease in importance the farther away they are from the equator is due to the quasi-diffusive nature of energy transports. Cloud shortwave responses in AM2 act to strengthen the ITCZ response to extratropical forcing, amplifying the response as it propagates toward the equator. These results emphasize the great importance of the extratropics in determining the position of the ITCZ.

Full access
Rong Zhang, Sarah M. Kang, and Isaac M. Held

Abstract

A variety of observational and modeling studies show that changes in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) can induce rapid global-scale climate change. In particular, a substantially weakened AMOC leads to a southward shift of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) in both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. However, the simulated amplitudes of the AMOC-induced tropical climate change differ substantially among different models. In this paper, the sensitivity to cloud feedback of the climate response to a change in the AMOC is studied using a coupled ocean–atmosphere model [the GFDL Coupled Model, version 2.1 (CM2.1)]. Without cloud feedback, the simulated AMOC-induced climate change in this model is weakened substantially. Low-cloud feedback has a strong amplifying impact on the tropical ITCZ shift in this model, whereas the effects of high-cloud feedback are weaker. It is concluded that cloud feedback is an important contributor to the uncertainty in the global response to AMOC changes.

Full access
Doyeon Kim, Sarah M. Kang, Yechul Shin, and Nicole Feldl

Abstract

The mechanism of polar amplification in the absence of surface albedo feedback is investigated using an atmospheric model coupled to an aquaplanet slab ocean forced by a CO2 doubling. In particular, we examine the sensitivity of polar surface warming response under different insolation conditions from equinox (EQN) to annual mean (ANN) to seasonally varying (SEA). Varying insolation greatly affects the climatological static stability. The equinox condition, with the largest polar static stability, exhibits a bottom-heavy vertical profile of polar warming response that leads to the strongest polar amplification. In contrast, the polar warming response in ANN and SEA exhibits a maximum in the midtroposphere, which leads to only weak polar amplification. The midtropospheric warming maximum, which results from an increased poleward atmospheric energy transport in response to the tropics-to-pole energy imbalance, contributes to polar surface warming via downward clear-sky longwave radiation. However, it is cancelled by negative cloud radiative feedbacks locally. Furthermore, the polar lapse rate feedback, calculated from radiative kernels, is negative due to the midtropospheric warming maximum, and hence is not able to promote the polar surface warming. On the other hand, the polar lapse rate feedback in EQN is positive due to the bottom-heavy warming response, contributing to the strong polar surface warming. This contrast suggests that locally induced positive radiative feedbacks are necessary for strong polar amplification. Our results demonstrate how interactions among climate feedbacks determine the strength of polar amplification.

Full access
Sarah M. Kang, Isaac M. Held, Dargan M. W. Frierson, and Ming Zhao

Abstract

Using a comprehensive atmospheric GCM coupled to a slab mixed layer ocean, experiments are performed to study the mechanism by which displacements of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) are forced from the extratropics. The northern extratropics are cooled and the southern extratropics are warmed by an imposed cross-equatorial flux beneath the mixed layer, forcing a southward shift in the ITCZ. The ITCZ displacement can be understood in terms of the degree of compensation between the imposed oceanic flux and the resulting response in the atmospheric energy transport in the tropics. The magnitude of the ITCZ displacement is very sensitive to a parameter in the convection scheme that limits the entrainment into convective plumes. The change in the convection scheme affects the extratropical–tropical interactions in the model primarily by modifying the cloud response. The results raise the possibility that the response of tropical precipitation to extratropical thermal forcing, important for a variety of problems in climate dynamics (such as the response of the tropics to the Northern Hemisphere ice sheets during glacial maxima or to variations in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation), may be strongly dependent on cloud feedback. The model configuration described here is suggested as a useful benchmark helping to quantify extratropical–tropical interactions in atmospheric models.

Full access
Elizabeth A. Maroon, Dargan M. W. Frierson, Sarah M. Kang, and Jacob Scheff

Abstract

A subtropical continent is added to two aquaplanet atmospheric general circulation models (AGCMs) to better understand the influence of land on tropical circulation and precipitation. The first model, the gray-radiation moist (GRaM) AGCM, has simplified physics, while the second model, the GFDL Atmospheric Model version 2.1 (AM2.1), is a fully comprehensive AGCM. Both models have a continent that is 60° wide in longitude from 10° to 30°N, in an otherwise slab-ocean-covered world. The precipitation response varies with cloudy- and clear-sky feedbacks and depends on continental albedo. In GRaM simulations with a continent, precipitation in the Northern Hemisphere decreases mostly as a result of decreased evaporation. In AM2.1 simulations, precipitation also shifts southward via Hadley circulation changes due to increasing albedo, but the radiative impact of clouds and moisture creates a more complex response. Results are similar when a seasonal cycle of insolation is included in AM2.1 simulations. The impact of a large, bright subtropical continent is to shift precipitation to the opposite hemisphere. In these simulations, the hemisphere of greater tropical precipitation is better predicted by the hemisphere with greater atmospheric energy input, as has been shown in previous literature, rather than the hemisphere that has higher surface temperature.

Full access