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Enrico Scoccimarro and Silvio Gualdi

Abstract

Heavy precipitation is often the trigger for flooding and landslides, leading to significant societal and economic impacts, ranging from fatalities to damage to infrastructure to loss of crops and livestock. Therefore, it is critical that we have a better understanding of how it may be changing in the future. Based on model projections from phases 3 and 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3 and CMIP5), future daily precipitation is likely to increase in intensity. The main goal of this study is to examine possible improvements in the representation of intense and extreme precipitation by a new set of climate models contributing to phase 6 of CMIP effort (CMIP6) and to quantify its projected changes under the highest emissions scenario by the end of the current century [i.e., Shared Socioeconomic Pathway (SSP) SSP5-8.5]. Daily precipitation data from six CMIP6 models were analyzed that have a nominal horizontal grid spacing around 100 km and provide data for the highest emissions scenario SSP5-8.5. Two of the six CMIP6 models overestimate the extreme precipitation (defined as the 99th percentile of the precipitation distribution) in the tropics, leading to large biases in the right tail of the daily precipitation over the tropics. Consistent with the CMIP5 results, the CMIP6 models projected increased heavy daily precipitation and increased width of the right tail of the precipitation distribution associated with increased water vapor content.

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Silvio Gualdi, Antonio Navarra, and Hans von Storch

Abstract

The statistics of tropical intraseasonal variability are studied using European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts analyses and several ECHAM General Circulation Model experiments made with different model versions (ECHAM2 and ECHAM3, which have different convection schemes) and different horizontal resolutions (T21, T42, and T106). The study applies the principal oscillation pattern technique to the 200-mb equatorial velocity potential. Associated patterns of tropical outgoing longwave radiation, equatorial zonal wind, and equatorial divergence are also presented.

The intercomparison of ECHAM2 and ECHAM3 simulations at low (T21) resolution shows that the improved model physics has a beneficial impact on the simulated Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). The MJO produced by the ECHAM2 model has an unrealistic spatial distribution of convection, whereas the MJO simulated by the ECHAM3 model appears to be related to convective activity over the Indian Ocean and the West Pacific, which is consistent with the observed MJO.

An increase of the horizontal resolution of the ECHAM3 model seems to actually degrade the results. At T42 and T106, the ECHAM3 MJO exhibits too much convective activity over central and equatorial America, with only a marginal effect of the MJO on the West Pacific–Indonesian region.

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Leone Cavicchia, Hans von Storch, and Silvio Gualdi

Abstract

The Mediterranean has been identified as one of the most responsive regions to climate change. It has been conjectured that one of the effects of a warmer climate could be to make the Mediterranean Sea prone to the formation of hurricanes. Already in the present climate regime, however, a few of the numerous low pressure systems that form in the area develop a dynamical evolution similar to the one of tropical cyclones. Even if their spatial extent is generally smaller and the life cycle shorter compared to tropical cyclones, such storms produce severe damage on the highly populated coastal areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. This study, based on the analysis of individual realistically simulated storms in homogeneous long-term and high-resolution data from multiple climate change scenarios, shows that the projected effect of climate change on Mediterranean tropical-like cyclones is decreased frequency and a tendency toward a moderate increase of intensity.

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Enrico Scoccimarro, Silvio Gualdi, Alessio Bellucci, Matteo Zampieri, and Antonio Navarra

Abstract

In this work, the authors investigate possible changes in the distribution of heavy precipitation events under a warmer climate, using the results of a set of 20 climate models taking part in phase 5 of Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Future changes are evaluated as the difference between the last four decades of the twenty-first century and the twentieth century, assuming the representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) scenario. As a measure of the width of the right tail of the precipitation distribution, the authors use the difference between the 99th and the 90th percentiles. Despite a slight tendency to underestimate the observed heavy precipitation, the considered CMIP5 models well represent the observed patterns in terms of the ensemble average, during both boreal summer and winter seasons for the 1997–2005 period. Future changes in average precipitation are consistent with previous findings based on models from phase 3 of CMIP (CMIP3). CMIP5 models show a projected increase for the end of the twenty-first century of the width of the right tail of the precipitation distribution, particularly pronounced over India, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and central Africa during boreal summer, as well as over South America and southern Africa during boreal winter.

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Eric Guilyardi, Pascale Delecluse, Silvio Gualdi, and Antonio Navarra

Abstract

The mechanisms leading to El Niño onset and termination in the ECHAM4/OPA coupled GCM are assessed and compared to observations and existing ENSO paradigms. At the equator as well as off equator, the patterns and timing of modeled El Niño composites are in good agreement with those observed. Heat content of the west Pacific is confirmed as a precursor to ENSO phase change, and the present work emphasizes the role of its northern off-equator part [west North Pacific (WNP) region, 5°–15°N, 120°–170°E]. The associated heat content changes appear to be dominated by a local Ekman pumping (or forced Rossby waves) rather than the accumulation of remotely generated free Rossby waves, as proposed by many theories. The heat content decrease in the WNP region, which triggers El Niño termination, is due to the negative feedback of the atmospheric Gill's response to the increased equatorial SST in the east Pacific, in agreement with most paradigms (delayed, recharged, west Pacific oscillators). The present study introduces the advection of the off-equator signal to the equatorial waveguide by the mean currents of the western Pacific as an additional process. A similar feedback (with opposite sign) also seems to drive the modeled El Niño onset, favoring a too strong and regular biennial ENSO in the model. This is due to the stronger-than-observed Walker circulation that isolates the WNP region from other remote influences (like monsoons). The model also exhibits “aborted” ENSO events where the warming peaks in late spring instead of late autumn and is quickly terminated by the Gill's negative feedback. The abort event occurs too frequently in the coupled model due to too strong and too zonal a convergence zone south of the equator (“double ITCZ”). It bears some resemblance to the spring 1993 warming, when the southern Tropics were also warm. The results of this paper provide additional insight into the El Niño seasonal phase lock mechanisms.

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Andrea Alessandri, Silvio Gualdi, Jan Polcher, and Antonio Navarra

Abstract

A land surface model (LSM) has been included in the ECMWF Hamburg version 4 (ECHAM4) atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM). The LSM is an early version of the Organizing Carbon and Hydrology in Dynamic Ecosystems (ORCHIDEE) and it replaces the simple land surface scheme previously included in ECHAM4. The purpose of this paper is to document how a more exhaustive consideration of the land surface–vegetation processes affects the simulated boreal summer surface climate.

To investigate the impacts on the simulated climate, different sets of Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP)-type simulations have been performed with ECHAM4 alone and with the AGCM coupled with ORCHIDEE. Furthermore, to assess the effects of the increase in horizontal resolution the coupling of ECHAM4 with the LSM has been implemented at different horizontal resolutions.

The analysis reveals that the LSM has large effects on the simulated boreal summer surface climate of the atmospheric model. Considerable impacts are found in the surface energy balance due to changes in the surface latent heat fluxes over tropical and midlatitude areas covered with vegetation. Rainfall and atmospheric circulation are substantially affected by these changes. In particular, increased precipitation is found over evergreen and summergreen vegetated areas.

Because of the socioeconomical relevance, particular attention has been devoted to the Indian summer monsoon (ISM) region. The results of this study indicate that precipitation over the Indian subcontinent is better simulated with the coupled ECHAM4–ORCHIDEE model compared to the atmospheric model alone.

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Andrea Alessandri, Andrea Borrelli, Silvio Gualdi, Enrico Scoccimarro, and Simona Masina

Abstract

This study investigates the predictability of tropical cyclone (TC) seasonal count anomalies using the Centro Euro-Mediterraneo per i Cambiamenti Climatici–Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (CMCC-INGV) Seasonal Prediction System (SPS). To this aim, nine-member ensemble forecasts for the period 1992–2001 for two starting dates per year were performed. The skill in reproducing the observed TC counts has been evaluated after the application of a TC location and tracking detection method to the retrospective forecasts. The SPS displays good skill in predicting the observed TC count anomalies, particularly over the tropical Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The simulated TC activity exhibits realistic geographical distribution and interannual variability, thus indicating that the model is able to reproduce the major basic mechanisms that link the TCs’ occurrence with the large-scale circulation. TC count anomalies prediction has been found to be sensitive to the subsurface assimilation in the ocean for initialization. Comparing the results with control simulations performed without assimilated initial conditions, the results indicate that the assimilation significantly improves the prediction of the TC count anomalies over the eastern North Pacific Ocean (ENP) and northern Indian Ocean (NI) during boreal summer. During the austral counterpart, significant progresses over the area surrounding Australia (AUS) and in terms of the probabilistic quality of the predictions also over the southern Indian Ocean (SI) were evidenced. The analysis shows that the improvement in the prediction of anomalous TC counts follows the enhancement in forecasting daily anomalies in sea surface temperature due to subsurface ocean initialization. Furthermore, the skill changes appear to be in part related to forecast differences in convective available potential energy (CAPE) over the ENP and the North Atlantic Ocean (ATL), in wind shear over the NI, and in both CAPE and wind shear over the SI.

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Paolo Davini, Chiara Cagnazzo, Silvio Gualdi, and Antonio Navarra

Abstract

In this paper, Northern Hemisphere winter blocking is analyzed through the introduction of a set of new bidimensional diagnostics based on geopotential height that provide information about the occurrence, the duration, the intensity, and the wave breaking associated with the blocking. This analysis is performed with different reanalysis datasets in order to evaluate the sensitivity of the index and the diagnostics adopted. In this way, the authors are able to define a new category of blocking placed at low latitudes that is similar to midlatitude blocking in terms of the introduced diagnostics but is unable to divert or block the flow. Furthermore, over the Euro-Atlantic sector it is shown that it is possible to phenomenologically distinguish between high-latitude blocking occurring over Greenland, north of the jet stream and dominated by cyclonic wave breaking, and the traditional midlatitude blocking localized over Europe and driven by anticyclonic wave breaking. These latter events are uniformly present in a band ranging from the Azores up to Scandinavia. Interestingly, a similar distinction cannot be pointed out over the Pacific basin where the blocking activity is dominated by high-latitude blocking occurring over eastern Siberia. Finally, considering the large impact that blocking may have on the Northern Hemisphere, an analysis of the variability and the trend is carried out. This shows a significant increase of Atlantic low-latitude blocking frequency and an eastward displacement of the strongest blocking events over both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

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Hae-Kyung Lee Drbohlav, Silvio Gualdi, and Antonio Navarra

Abstract

The Indian Ocean dipole mode (IODM) is examined by comparing the characteristics of oceanic and atmospheric circulations, heat budgets, and possible mechanisms of IODM between El Niño and non–El Niño years. Forty-year ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40) data, Reynolds SST data, and ocean assimilation data from the Modular Ocean Model are used to form composites of the IODM that occur during El Niño (1972, 1982, and 1997) and non–El Niño (1961, 1967, and 1994) years. In El Niño years, two off-equatorial, anticyclonic circulations develop, associated with the increased pressure over the eastern Indian Ocean. The anticyclonic circulation over the Northern Hemisphere enhances the easterly component of the winds in the northwestern Indian Ocean. This enhanced easterly component increases the mixed layer temperature by inducing an anomalous westward ocean current that advects the warm mean mixed layer from the central to the western Indian Ocean. Meanwhile, the anticyclonic circulation over the southeastern Indian Ocean strengthens southeasterlies, thereby causing oceanic meridional and vertical advection of the cold mean temperature. Consequently, the IODM in El Niño years is characterized by the warming in the northwestern and the cooling in the southeastern Indian Ocean. In non–El Niño years, a monsoonlike wind flow increases the westerly and southeasterly components of the wind over the northwestern and southeastern Indian Ocean, respectively. Oceanic currents induced by these winds result in anomalous cold advection in both of these regions. In addition, the monsoonlike wind flow over the southeastern Indian Ocean enhances the anomalous latent and sensible heat fluxes in non–El Niño years. Hence, the cooling of the eastern tropical Indian Ocean, rather than the warming of the western Indian Ocean, becomes the major feature of the IODM during non–El Niño years.

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Paolo Ruggieri, M. Carmen Alvarez-Castro, Panos Athanasiadis, Alessio Bellucci, Stefano Materia, and Silvio Gualdi

Abstract

Meridional transport of heat by transient atmospheric eddies is a key component of the energy budget of the middle- and high-latitude regions. The heat flux at relevant frequencies is also part of a dynamical interaction between eddies and mean flow. In this study we investigate how the poleward heat flux by high-frequency atmospheric transient eddies is modulated by North Atlantic weather regimes in reanalysis data. Circulation regimes are estimated via a clustering method, a jet-latitude index, and a blocking index. Heat transport is defined as advection of moist static energy. The focus of the analysis is on synoptic frequencies but results for slightly longer time scales are reported. Results show that the synoptic eddy heat flux is substantially modulated by midlatitude weather regimes on a regional scale in midlatitude and polar regions. In a zonal-mean sense, the phases of the North Atlantic Oscillation do not significantly change the high-latitude synoptic heat flux, whereas Scandinavian blocking and the Atlantic ridge are associated with an intensification. A close relationship between high-latitude (midlatitude) heat flux and Atlantic jet speed (latitude) is found. The relationship between extreme events of synoptic heat flux and circulation regimes is also assessed and reveals contrasting behaviors in the polar regions. The perspective that emerges complements the traditional view of the interaction between synoptic eddies and the extratropical flow and reveals relationships with the high-latitude climate.

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