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Jing Gao, You He, Valerie Masson-Delmotte, and Tandong Yao

Abstract

Although El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) influences the Indian summer monsoon, its impact on moisture transport toward the southern Tibetan Plateau (TP) remains poorly understood. Precipitation stable isotopes are useful indices for climate change in the TP. Classical interpretations of variations of precipitation stable isotopes focus on the local surface air temperature or precipitation amount. However, several of the latest studies suggested they may correlate with large-scale modes of variability, such as ENSO. This paper presents a detailed study of ENSO’s effect on annual variations of the oxygen stable isotopic composition of precipitation (δ 18Op) at Lhasa in the southern TP for up to 10 years. The stable isotopic composition of water vapor from satellite data [Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES)] and simulations from an isotopically enabled atmospheric general circulation model (zoomed LMDZiso) are used to explore the mechanism that leads to variations of δ 18Op at Lhasa. Statistically significant correlations between δ 18Op and ENSO indices [Southern Oscillation index (SOI) and Niño-3.4 sea surface temperature index (Niño-3.4)] are observed. This paper shows that ENSO’s effects on the location and intensity of convection over the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the tropical Indian Ocean, along moisture transport paths toward Lhasa, further impact convection from the northern Tibetan Plateau. The changing of this convection results in lower δ 18Op at Lhasa in 2007, a La Niña year, and higher δ 18Op in 2006, an El Niño year. The study presented here confirms that the regional upstream convection related to ENSO teleconnections plays an important role in variations of δ 18Op at the interannual scale and that the more depleted oxygen stable isotopic composition of vapor (δ 18Oυ) from the northwestern region of India during a La Niña year intensifies the lower δ 18Op at Lhasa in a La Niña year. The study’s results have implications for the interpretation of past variations of archives with precipitation stable isotopes, such as ice cores, tree rings, lake sediments, and speleothems, in this region.

Open access
Ed Hawkins, Pablo Ortega, Emma Suckling, Andrew Schurer, Gabi Hegerl, Phil Jones, Manoj Joshi, Timothy J. Osborn, Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Juliette Mignot, Peter Thorne, and Geert Jan van Oldenborgh

Abstract

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process agreed in Paris to limit global surface temperature rise to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.” But what period is preindustrial? Somewhat remarkably, this is not defined within the UNFCCC’s many agreements and protocols. Nor is it defined in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) in the evaluation of when particular temperature levels might be reached because no robust definition of the period exists. Here we discuss the important factors to consider when defining a preindustrial period, based on estimates of historical radiative forcings and the availability of climate observations. There is no perfect period, but we suggest that 1720–1800 is the most suitable choice when discussing global temperature limits. We then estimate the change in global average temperature since preindustrial using a range of approaches based on observations, radiative forcings, global climate model simulations, and proxy evidence. Our assessment is that this preindustrial period was likely 0.55°–0.80°C cooler than 1986–2005 and that 2015 was likely the first year in which global average temperature was more than 1°C above preindustrial levels. We provide some recommendations for how this assessment might be improved in the future and suggest that reframing temperature limits with a modern baseline would be inherently less uncertain and more policy relevant.

Open access
Chunming Shi, Cheng Sun, Guocan Wu, Xiuchen Wu, Deliang Chen, Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Jianping Li, Jiaqing Xue, Zongshan Li, Duoying Ji, Jing Zhang, Zexin Fan, Miaogen Shen, Lifu Shu, and Philippe Ciais

Abstract

Rapid warming has led to an aggregated environmental degradation over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) in the last few decades, including accelerated glacier retreat, early snowmelt, permafrost degradation, and forest fire occurrence. Attribution of this warming in recent decades has mainly been focused on anthropogenic forcing. Yet, linkages to the Atlantic multidecadal variability (AMV), an essential part of the climate system causing decadal to centennial fluctuations of temperature, remains poorly understood for the TP, especially at long time scales. Using well-replicated tree-ring width records, we reconstructed 358 years of summer minimum temperature (MinT) of the whole TP. This reconstruction matches the recent warming signal recorded since the 1980s, and captures 63% of the variance in 1950–2005 instrumental records. A teleconnection from the North Atlantic to the TP is further identified based in observations and simulations with an atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM). We propose that half of the multidecadal variability of TP summer MinT can be explained by the AMV over the past three and a half centuries. Both observations and AGCM simulations indicate that the AMV warm phase induces a zonal dipole response in sea level pressure across the Atlantic–Eurasia region, with anomalously high surface pressure and corresponding downward atmospheric motion over the TP. We propose that the descending motion during warm AMV phases causes negative rainfall and positive temperature anomalies over the TP. Our findings highlight that the AMV plays a role in the multidecadal temperature variability over the TP.

Open access