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J. T. Kiehl and Susan Solomon

Abstract

The zonally averaged radiative balance of the stratosphere based on the measured temperature structure and gas concentrations available from the LIMS instrument is examined in detail. These data are extant for seven months (November 1978 to May 1979). The contribution to the net radiative balance due to the individual components of solar heating and longwave cooling is discussed. These components are further broken down by individual gas constituent to understand the role each gas plays in determining the total radiative heating/cooling. The deficiencies of employing a latitudinally and temporally independent Newtonian damping coefficient are also explored. In particular, the Newtonian damping time is shown to vary by a factor of two in both latitude and season. Net zonally averaged stratosphere radiative heating for the seven months of LIMS data are presented. These net heating rates are important in determining the role of advective transport of chemical constituents. An important feature that appears in the derived radiative heating is the existence of a region of net radiative cooling near the equatorial stratopause.

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Jean-François Lamarque and Susan Solomon

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The primary focus of this paper is the analysis of the roles of long-term increases in carbon dioxide (CO2) and sea surface temperatures (used as indicators of climate change) and man-made halocarbons (indicators of chemical ozone depletion linked to halogens) in explaining the observed trend of ozone in the tropical lower stratosphere and implications for related variables including temperature and tropopause height. Published estimates indicate a decrease of approximately 10% in observed ozone concentrations in this region between 1979 and 2005. Using a coupled chemistry–climate atmosphere model forced by observed sea surface temperatures and surface concentrations of long-lived greenhouse gases and halocarbons, the authors show that the simulations display substantial decreases in tropical ozone that compare well in both latitudinal and vertical structure with those observed. Based on sensitivity simulations, the analysis indicates that the decreases in the lower stratospheric (85–50 hPa) tropical ozone distribution are mostly associated with increases in CO2 and sea surface temperatures, in contrast to those at higher latitudes, which are largely driven by halocarbon increases. Factors influencing temperature trends and tropopause heights in this region are also probed. It is shown that the modeled temperature trends in the lower tropical stratosphere are also associated with increases in CO2 and sea surface temperatures. Following the analysis of lower stratospheric tropical temperature trends, the secondary focus of this paper is on related changes in tropopause height. Much of the simulated tropopause rise in the tropical zone as measured by tropopause height is found to be linked to increases in sea surface temperatures and CO2, while increases in halocarbons dominate the tropopause height changes in the subtropics near 30°; both drivers thus affect different regions of the simulated changes in the position of the tropopause. Finally, it is shown that halocarbon increases dominate the changes in the width of the region where modeled total ozone displays tropical character (as indicated by low values of the column abundance). Hence the findings suggest that climate changes and halocarbon changes make different contributions to different metrics used to characterize tropical change.

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Susan Solomon and John S. Daniel

The technical achievements of Lewis and Clark have been celebrated in fields ranging from cartography to zoology. As America commemorates the bicentennial of their historic journey across the continent, this paper shows that their meteorological data and personal weather-related observations also are worthy of celebration. While the primary goal of the mission, as described by then-President Jefferson to the Congress, was economic and strategic, both Jefferson and cocaptains Lewis and Clark showed an interest in and capacity for scientific understanding of the meteorology of the then-unknown West. The seasonal evolution and variability of temperatures recorded for the first time by Lewis and Clark on the High Plains can now be shown to be quite close to average, thanks to many decades of collection of modern data by the U.S. Cooperative Observer Network stations along their route. While the diets, lives, and experiences of these early explorers and their men were profoundly different from those of modern Americans, the climate that they documented for the first time with care and accuracy remains familiar to us today.

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Daniel M. Gilford and Susan Solomon

Abstract

Water vapor and ozone are powerful radiative constituents in the tropical lower stratosphere, impacting the local heating budget and nonlocally forcing the troposphere below. Their near-tropopause seasonal cycle structures imply associated “radiative seasonal cycles” in heating rates that could affect the amplitude and phase of the local temperature seasonal cycle. Overlying stratospheric seasonal cycles of water vapor and ozone could also play a role in the lower stratosphere and upper troposphere heat budgets through nonlocal propagation of radiation. Previous studies suggest that the tropical lower stratospheric ozone seasonal cycle radiatively amplifies the local temperature seasonal cycle by up to 35%, while water vapor is thought to have a damping effect an order of magnitude smaller. This study uses Aura Microwave Limb Sounder observations and an offline radiative transfer model to examine ozone, water vapor, and temperature seasonal cycles and their radiative linkages in the lower stratosphere and upper troposphere. Radiative sensitivities to ozone and water vapor vertical structures are explicitly calculated, which has not been previously done in a seasonal cycle context. Results show that the water vapor radiative seasonal cycle in the lower stratosphere is not sensitive to the overlying water vapor structure. In contrast, about one-third of ozone’s radiative seasonal cycle amplitude at 85 hPa is associated with longwave emission above 85 hPa. Ozone’s radiative effects are not spatially homogenous: for example, the Northern Hemisphere tropics have a seasonal cycle of radiative temperature adjustments with an amplitude 0.8 K larger than the Southern Hemisphere tropics.

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Brent Boehlert, Susan Solomon, and Kenneth M. Strzepek

Abstract

Climate change and rapidly rising global water demand are expected to place unprecedented pressures on already strained water resource systems. Successfully planning for these future changes requires a sound scientific understanding of the timing, location, and magnitude of climate change impacts on water needs and availability—not only average trends but also interannual variability and quantified uncertainties. In recent years, two types of large-ensemble runs of climate projections have become available: those from groups of more than 20 different climate models and those from repeated runs of several individual models. These provide the basis for novel probabilistic evaluation of both projected climate change and the resulting effects on water resources. Using a broad range of available ensembles, this research explores the spatial and temporal patterns of high confidence as well as uncertainty in projected river runoff, irrigation water requirements, basin storage yield, and cost estimates of adapting regional water systems to maintain historical supply. Projections of river runoff show robust between-ensemble agreement in regional drying (e.g., southern Africa and southern Europe) and wetting trends (e.g., northeastern United States). By integrating runoff over space and time, the economic effects of adapting supply systems to 2050 water availability show still broader trend agreement across ensembles. That agreement, obtained across such a wide range of multiple-member climate model ensembles in some locations, suggests a high degree of confidence in direction of change in water availability and provides clearer signals for longer-term investment decisions in water infrastructure.

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David W. J. Thompson and Susan Solomon

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The global structure of recent stratospheric climate trends is examined in radiosonde data. In contrast to conclusions published in previous assessments of stratospheric temperature trends, it is demonstrated that in the annual mean the tropical stratosphere has cooled substantially over the past few decades. The cooling of the tropical stratosphere is apparent in both nighttime and adjusted radiosonde data, and seems to be robust to changes in radiosonde instrumentation. The meridional structure of the annual-mean stratospheric trends is not consistent with our current understanding of radiative transfer and constituent trends but is consistent with increased upwelling in the tropical stratosphere.

The annual-mean cooling of the tropical stratosphere is juxtaposed against seasonally varying trends in the extratropical stratosphere dominated by the well-known springtime cooling at polar latitudes. The polar stratospheric trends are accompanied by similarly signed trends at tropospheric levels in the Southern Hemisphere but not in the Northern Hemisphere.

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Natalia Zazulie, Matilde Rusticucci, and Susan Solomon

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The climate observations at Orcadas represent the only southern high-latitude site where data span more than a century, and its daily measurements are presented for the first time in this paper. Although limited to a single station, the observed warming trends are among the largest found anywhere on the earth, facilitating the study of changes in extreme temperatures as well as averages. Factors that may influence Antarctic climate include natural variability; changes in greenhouse gases; and, since about the mid-1970s, the development of the ozone hole. The seasonality of observed warming and its temporal evolution during the century are both key for interpretations of Antarctic climate change. No statistically significant climate trends are observed at Orcadas from 1903 to 1950. However, statistically significant warming is evident at Orcadas throughout all four seasons of the year since 1950. Particularly in austral fall and winter, the warming of the cold extremes (coldest 5% and 10% of days) substantially exceeds the warming of the mean or of the warmest days, providing a key indicator for cold season Antarctic climate change studies. Trends in the summer season means and extremes since 1970 are approximately twice as large as those observed earlier, supporting suggestions of additional regional warming in that season because of the effects of ozone depletion on the circulation. Further, in the spring and summer seasons, significant mean warming also occurred prior to the development of the Antarctic ozone hole (i.e., 1950–70), supporting an important role for processes other than ozone depletion, such as greenhouse gas increases, for the climate changes.

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David W. J. Thompson and Susan Solomon

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The long-term, global-mean cooling of the lower stratosphere stems from two downward steps in temperature, both of which are coincident with the cessation of transient warming after the volcanic eruptions of El Chichón and Mount Pinatubo. Previous attribution studies reveal that the long-term cooling is linked to ozone trends, and modeling studies driven by a range of known forcings suggest that the steps reflect the superposition of the long-term cooling with transient variability in upwelling longwave radiation from the troposphere. However, the long-term cooling of the lower stratosphere is evident at all latitudes despite the fact that chemical ozone losses are thought to be greatest at middle and polar latitudes. Further, the ozone concentrations used in such studies are based on either 1) smooth mathematical functions fit to sparsely sampled observations that are unavailable during postvolcanic periods or 2) calculations by a coupled chemistry–climate model.

Here the authors provide observational analyses that yield new insight into three key aspects of recent stratospheric climate change. First, evidence is provided that shows the unusual steplike behavior of global-mean stratospheric temperatures is dependent not only upon the trend but also on the temporal variability in global-mean ozone immediately following volcanic eruptions. Second, the authors argue that the warming/cooling pattern in global-mean temperatures following major volcanic eruptions is consistent with the competing radiative and chemical effects of volcanic eruptions on stratospheric temperature and ozone. Third, it is revealed that the contrasting latitudinal structures of recent stratospheric temperature and ozone trends are consistent with large-scale increases in the stratospheric overturning Brewer–Dobson circulation.

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Kerry Emanuel, Susan Solomon, Doris Folini, Sean Davis, and Chiara Cagnazzo

Abstract

Virtually all metrics of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity show substantial increases over the past two decades. It is argued here that cooling near the tropical tropopause and the associated decrease in tropical cyclone outflow temperature contributed to the observed increase in tropical cyclone potential intensity over this period. Quantitative uncertainties in the magnitude of the cooling are important, but a broad range of observations supports some cooling. Downscalings of the output of atmospheric general circulation models (AGCMs) that are driven by observed sea surface temperatures and sea ice cover produce little if any increase in Atlantic tropical cyclone metrics over the past two decades, even though observed variability before roughly 1970 is well simulated by some of the models. Part of this shortcoming is traced to the failure of the AGCMs examined to reproduce the observed cooling of the lower stratosphere and tropical tropopause layer (TTL) over the past few decades. The authors caution against using sea surface temperature or proxies based on it to make projections of tropical cyclone activity as there can be significant contributions from other variables such as the outflow temperature. The proposed mechanisms of TTL cooling (e.g., ozone depletion and stratospheric circulation changes) are reviewed, and the need for improved representations of these processes in global models in order to improve projections of future tropical cyclone activity is emphasized.

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Pu Lin, Qiang Fu, Susan Solomon, and John M. Wallace
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