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Eleanor J. Burke and Simon J. Brown

Abstract

The uncertainty in the projection of future drought occurrence was explored for four different drought indices using two model ensembles. The first ensemble expresses uncertainty in the parameter space of the third Hadley Centre climate model, and the second is a multimodel ensemble that additionally expresses structural uncertainty in the climate modeling process. The standardized precipitation index (SPI), the precipitation and potential evaporation anomaly (PPEA), the Palmer drought severity index (PDSI), and the soil moisture anomaly (SMA) were derived for both a single CO2 (1×CO2) and a double CO2 (2×CO2) climate. The change in moderate drought, defined by the 20th percentile of the relevant 1×CO2 distribution, was calculated. SPI, based solely on precipitation, shows little change in the proportion of the land surface in drought. All the other indices, which include a measure of the atmospheric demand for moisture, show a significant increase with an additional 5%–45% of the land surface in drought. There are large uncertainties in regional changes in drought. Regions where the precipitation decreases show a reproducible increase in drought across ensemble members and indices. In other regions the sign and magnitude of the change in drought is dependent on index definition and ensemble member, suggesting that the selection of appropriate drought indices is important for impact studies.

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Robin T. Clark and Simon J. Brown

Abstract

Atmospheric circulation patterns occurring on the warmest 10% of summer days for a region of Europe severely impacted by the 2003 heatwave have been identified using a perturbed parameter ensemble of regional high-resolution climate model simulations for the recent past. Changes in the frequency and duration of these circulation types, driven by the simulations following a moderate transient pathway of anthropogenic emissions, are then shown for the period 2070 to 2100. Increases in the future probability of hot days are then attributed separately to changes in the frequency and temperature intensity of the circulation types. Changes in temperature intensity are found to have an effect 2 to 3 times larger than in frequency.

The authors then consider how model uncertainty in changes of future temperature within circulation patterns compares to the uncertainty irrespective of circulation, in an attempt to exclude contributions to the overall uncertainty arising from changes in circulation. Within individual patterns, the range of meteorological physical processes may be narrower. However, no reduction in uncertainty was found when single patterns were considered. Contributions to the lack of narrowing from circulation-type duration, model vegetation root depth and changes in cloud cover, pressure gradient, and continental-scale warming are subsequently examined using relationships between changes in surface latent heat and temperature. Vegetation root depth is found to be the greatest contributor to the temperature uncertainty.

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Eleanor J. Burke, Simon J. Brown, and Nikolaos Christidis

Abstract

Meteorological drought in the Hadley Centre global climate model is assessed using the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), a commonly used drought index. At interannual time scales, for the majority of the land surface, the model captures the observed relationship between the El Niño–Southern Oscillation and regions of relative wetness and dryness represented by high and low values of the PDSI respectively. At decadal time scales, on a global basis, the model reproduces the observed drying trend (decreasing PDSI) since 1952. An optimal detection analysis shows that there is a significant influence of anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gasses and sulphate aerosols in the production of this drying trend. On a regional basis, the specific regions of wetting and drying are not always accurately simulated. In this paper, present-day drought events are defined as continuous time periods where the PDSI is less than the 20th percentile of the PDSI distribution between 1952 and 1998 (i.e., on average 20% of the land surface is in drought at any one time). Overall, the model predicts slightly less frequent but longer events than are observed. Future projections of drought in the twenty-first century made using the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A2 emission scenario show regions of strong wetting and drying with a net overall global drying trend. For example, the proportion of the land surface in extreme drought is predicted to increase from 1% for the present day to 30% by the end of the twenty-first century.

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Nikolaos Christidis, Peter A. Stott, and Simon J. Brown

Abstract

Formal detection and attribution analyses of changes in daily extremes give evidence of a significant human influence on the increasing severity of extremely warm nights and decreasing severity of extremely cold days and nights. This paper presents an optimal fingerprinting analysis that also detects the contributions of external forcings to recent changes in extremely warm days using nonstationary extreme value theory. The authors’ analysis is the first that attempts to partition the observed change in warm daytime extremes between its anthropogenic and natural components and hence attribute part of the change to possible causes. Changes in the extreme temperatures are represented by the temporal changes in a parameter of an extreme value distribution. Regional distributions of the trend in the parameter are computed with and without human influence using constraints from the global optimal fingerprinting analysis. Anthropogenic forcings alter the regional distributions, indicating that extremely warm days have become hotter.

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Robin T. Clark, Simon J. Brown, and James M. Murphy

Abstract

Changes in extreme daily temperature events are examined using a perturbed physics ensemble of global model simulations under present-day and doubled CO2 climates where ensemble members differ in their representation of various physical processes. Modeling uncertainties are quantified by varying poorly constrained model parameters that control atmospheric processes and feedbacks and analyzing the ensemble spread of simulated changes. In general, uncertainty is up to 50% of projected changes in extreme heat events of the type that occur only once per year.

Large changes are seen in distributions of daily maximum temperatures for June, July, and August with significant shifts to warmer conditions. Changes in extremely hot days are shown to be significantly larger than changes in mean values in some regions. The intensity, duration, and frequency of summer heat waves are expected to be substantially greater over all continents. The largest changes are found over Europe, North and South America, and East Asia. Reductions in soil moisture, number of wet days, and nocturnal cooling are identified as significant factors responsible for the changes.

Although uncertainty associated with the magnitude of expected changes is large in places, it does not bring into question the sign or nature of the projected changes. Even with the most conservative simulations, hot extreme events are still expected to substantially increase in intensity, duration, and frequency. This ensemble, however, does not represent the full range of uncertainty associated with future projections; for example, the effects of multiple parameter perturbations are neglected, as are the effects of structural changes to the basic nature of the parameterization schemes in the model.

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James W. Hurrell, Simon J. Brown, Kevin E. Trenberth, and John R. Christy

A comprehensive comparison is made between two tropospheric temperature datasets over the period 1979–98: the most recent and substantially revised (version d) microwave sounding unit (MSU) channel 2 data retrievals, and a gridded radiosonde analysis provided by the Hadley Centre of the U.K. Meteorological Office. The latter is vertically weighted to approximate the deep layer temperatures measured by the satellite data. At individual grid points, there is good overall agreement among monthly anomalies, especially over the Northern Hemisphere continents where the climate signal is large, although monthly root-mean-square (rms) differences typically exceed 0.6°C. Over the Tropics, correlations are lower and rms differences can be as large as the standard deviations of monthly anomalies. Differences in the gridpoint variances are significant at many locations, which presumably reflects sources of noise in one or both measurement systems.

It is often argued for climate purposes that temperature anomalies are large in scale so that averaging over larger areas better serves to define the anomalies while reducing sampling error. This is the case for the Tropics (20°S–20°N) where the large signal associated with El Niño-Southern Oscillation events is well captured in both datasets. Over the extratropics, however, the results indicate that it is essential to subsample the satellite data with the radiosonde coverage in both space and time in any evaluation. For collocated global average monthly anomalies, correlations are ~0.9 with rms differences ~0.10°C for both lower- (MSU2LT) and mid- (MSU2) tropospheric anomalies.

The agreement between the satellite and radiosonde data is slightly better for the latest version of MSU2LT than it is for MSU2, in spite of the higher noise levels of the former. This is primarily attributable to a strong warming trend in the MSU2, data relative to the radiosonde data toward the end of the record. Given the global nature of this discrepancy, it is suspected that it primarily reflects problems in the MSU analysis. As radiosonde records almost universally contain temporal inhomogeneities as well, caution is required when interpreting trends, which are not known to within 0.1 °C decade−1. However, the evidence suggests that global surface air temperatures are indeed warming at a significantly faster rate than tropospheric temperatures over the past 20 yr, and this is primarily attributable to physical differences in these two quantities.

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Nikolaos Christidis, Peter A. Stott, Simon Brown, David J. Karoly, and John Caesar

Abstract

Increasing surface temperatures are expected to result in longer growing seasons. An optimal detection analysis is carried out to assess the significance of increases in the growing season length during 1950–99, and to measure the anthropogenic component of the change. The signal is found to be detectable, both on global and continental scales, and human influence needs to be accounted for if it is to be fully explained. The change in the growing season length is found to be asymmetric and largely due to the earlier onset of spring, rather than the later ending of autumn. The growing season length, based on exceedence of local temperature thresholds, has a rate of increase of about 1.5 days decade−1 over the observation area. Local variations also allow for negative trends in parts of North America. The analysis suggests that the signal can be attributed to the anthropogenic forcings that have acted on the climate system and no other forcings are necessary to describe the change. Model projections predict that under future climate change the later ending of autumn will also contribute significantly to the lengthening of the growing season, which will increase in the twenty-first century by more than a month. Such major changes in seasonality will affect physical and biological systems in several ways, leading to important environmental and socioeconomic consequences and adaptation challenges.

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Chun Kit Ho, David B. Stephenson, Matthew Collins, Christopher A. T. Ferro, and Simon J. Brown

No abstract available.

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James D. Doyle, Saša Gaberšek, Qingfang Jiang, Ligia Bernardet, John M. Brown, Andreas Dörnbrack, Elmar Filaus, Vanda Grubišić, Daniel J. Kirshbaum, Oswald Knoth, Steven Koch, Juerg Schmidli, Ivana Stiperski, Simon Vosper, and Shiyuan Zhong

Abstract

Numerical simulations of flow over steep terrain using 11 different nonhydrostatic numerical models are compared and analyzed. A basic benchmark and five other test cases are simulated in a two-dimensional framework using the same initial state, which is based on conditions during Intensive Observation Period (IOP) 6 of the Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX), in which intense mountain-wave activity was observed. All of the models use an identical horizontal resolution of 1 km and the same vertical resolution. The six simulated test cases use various terrain heights: a 100-m bell-shaped hill, a 1000-m idealized ridge that is steeper on the lee slope, a 2500-m ridge with the same terrain shape, and a cross-Sierra terrain profile. The models are tested with both free-slip and no-slip lower boundary conditions.

The results indicate a surprisingly diverse spectrum of simulated mountain-wave characteristics including lee waves, hydraulic-like jump features, and gravity wave breaking. The vertical velocity standard deviation is twice as large in the free-slip experiments relative to the no-slip simulations. Nevertheless, the no-slip simulations also exhibit considerable variations in the wave characteristics. The results imply relatively low predictability of key characteristics of topographically forced flows such as the strength of downslope winds and stratospheric wave breaking. The vertical flux of horizontal momentum, which is a domain-integrated quantity, exhibits considerable spread among the models, particularly for the experiments with the 2500-m ridge and Sierra terrain. The differences among the various model simulations, all initialized with identical initial states, suggest that model dynamical cores may be an important component of diversity for the design of mesoscale ensemble systems for topographically forced flows. The intermodel differences are significantly larger than sensitivity experiments within a single modeling system.

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