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Isla R. Simpson, Michael Blackburn, Joanna D. Haigh, and Sarah N. Sparrow


Previous studies have made use of simplified general circulation models (sGCMs) to investigate the atmospheric response to various forcings. In particular, several studies have investigated the tropospheric response to changes in stratospheric temperature. This is potentially relevant for many climate forcings. Here the impact of changing the tropospheric climatology on the modeled response to perturbations in stratospheric temperature is investigated by the introduction of topography into the model and altering the tropospheric jet structure.

The results highlight the need for very long integrations so as to determine accurately the magnitude of response. It is found that introducing topography into the model and thus removing the zonally symmetric nature of the model’s boundary conditions reduces the magnitude of response to stratospheric heating. However, this reduction is of comparable size to the variability in the magnitude of response between different ensemble members of the same 5000-day experiment.

Investigations into the impact of varying tropospheric jet structure reveal a trend with lower-latitude/narrower jets having a much larger magnitude response to stratospheric heating than higher-latitude/wider jets. The jet structures that respond more strongly to stratospheric heating also exhibit longer time scale variability in their control run simulations, consistent with the idea that a feedback between the eddies and the mean flow is both responsible for the persistence of the control run variability and important in producing the tropospheric response to stratospheric temperature perturbations.

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David E. Rupp, Sihan Li, Philip W. Mote, Neil Massey, Sarah N. Sparrow, and David C. H. Wallom


The impacts of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies and anthropogenic greenhouse gases on the likelihood of extreme drought occurring in the central United States in the year 2012 were investigated using large-ensemble simulations from a global atmospheric climate model. Two sets of experiments were conducted. In the first, the simulated hydroclimate of 2012 was compared to a baseline period (1986–2014) to investigate the impact of SSTs. In the second, the hydroclimate in a world with 2012-level anthropogenic forcing was compared to five “counterfactual” versions of a 2012 world under preindustrial forcing. SST anomalies in 2012 increased the simulated likelihood of an extreme summer precipitation deficit (e.g., the deficit with a 2% exceedance probability) by a factor of 5. The likelihood of an extreme summer soil moisture deficit increased by a similar amount, due in great part to a large spring soil moisture deficit carrying over into summer. An anthropogenic impact on precipitation was detectable in the simulations, doubling the likelihood of what would have been a rainfall deficit with a 2% exceedance probability under preindustrial-level forcings. Despite this reduction in rainfall, summer soil moisture during extreme drought was essentially unaffected by anthropogenic forcing because of 1) evapotranspiration declining roughly one-to-one with a decrease in precipitation due to severe water supply constraint and despite higher evaporative demand and 2) a decrease in stomatal conductance, and therefore a decrease in potential transpiration, with higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

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