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Gerald A. Meehl, Warren M. Washington, Julie M. Arblaster, Thomas W. Bettge, and Warren G. Strand Jr.

Abstract

A methodology is formulated to evaluate the possible changes in decadal-timescale (10–20-yr period) surface temperature variability and associated low-frequency fluctuations of anthropogenic forcing and changes in climate base state due to the forcing in simulations of twentieth- and twenty-first-century climate in a global coupled climate model without flux adjustment. The two climate change experiments both start in the year 1900. The first uses greenhouse gas radiative forcing (represented by equivalent CO2) observed during the twentieth century, and extends greenhouse gas forcing to the year 2035 by increasing CO2 1% yr−1 compound after 1990 (CO2-only experiment). The second includes the same greenhouse gas forcing as the first, but adds the effects of time-varying geographic distributions of monthly sulfate aerosol radiative forcing represented by a change in surface albedo (CO2 + sulfates experiment). The climate change experiments are compared with a 135-yr control experiment with no change in external forcing. Climate system responses in the CO2-only and CO2 + sulfates experiments in this particular model are marked not only by greater warming at high latitudes in the winter hemisphere, but also by a global El Niño–like pattern in surface temperature, precipitation, and sea level pressure. This pattern is characterized by a relatively greater increase of SST in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific in comparison with the west, a shift of precipitation maxima from the western Pacific to the central Pacific, mostly decreases of Asian–Australian monsoon strength, lower pressure over the eastern tropical Pacific, deeper midlatitude troughs in the North and South Pacific, and higher pressure over Australasia. Time series analysis of globally averaged temperature and an EOF analysis of surface temperature are consistent with previous results in that enhanced low-frequency variability with periods greater than around 20 yr is introduced into the model coupled climate system with a comparable timescale to the forcing. To examine the possible effects of the associated changes in base state on decadal timescale variability (10–20-yr periods), the surface temperature time series are filtered to retain only variability on that timescale. The El Niño–like pattern of decadal variability seen in the observations is present in each of the model experiments (control, CO2 only, and CO2 + sulfates), but the magnitude decreases significantly in the CO2-only experiment. This decrease is associated with changes in the base-state climate that include a reduction in the magnitude (roughly 5%–20% or more) of wind stress and ocean currents in the upper 100 m in most ocean basins and a weakening of meridional overturning (about 50%) in the Atlantic. These weakened circulation features contribute to decreasing the amplitude of global decadal surface temperature variability as seen in a previous sea-ice sensitivity study with this model. Thus the superposition of low-frequency variability patterns in the radiative forcing increases climate variability for periods comparable to those of the forcing (greater than about 20 yr). However, there are decreases in the amplitude of future decadal (10–20-yr period) variability in these experiments due to changes of the base-state climate as a consequence of increases in that forcing.

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Gerald A. Meehl, Warren M. Washington, Julie M. Arblaster, Aixue Hu, Haiyan Teng, Jennifer E. Kay, Andrew Gettelman, David M. Lawrence, Benjamin M. Sanderson, and Warren G. Strand

Abstract

Future climate change projections for phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) are presented for the Community Earth System Model version 1 that includes the Community Atmospheric Model version 5 [CESM1(CAM5)]. These results are compared to the Community Climate System Model, version 4 (CCSM4) and include simulations using the representative concentration pathway (RCP) mitigation scenarios, and extensions for those scenarios beyond 2100 to 2300. Equilibrium climate sensitivity of CESM1(CAM5) is 4.10°C, which is higher than the CCSM4 value of 3.20°C. The transient climate response is 2.33°C, compared to the CCSM4 value of 1.73°C. Thus, even though CESM1(CAM5) includes both the direct and indirect effects of aerosols (CCSM4 had only the direct effect), the overall climate system response including forcing and feedbacks is greater in CESM1(CAM5) compared to CCSM4. The Atlantic Ocean meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) in CESM1(CAM5) weakens considerably in the twenty-first century in all the RCP scenarios, and recovers more slowly in the lower forcing scenarios. The total aerosol optical depth (AOD) changes from ~0.12 in 2006 to ~0.10 in 2100, compared to a preindustrial 1850 value of 0.08, so there is less negative forcing (a net positive forcing) from that source during the twenty-first century. Consequently, the change from 2006 to 2100 in aerosol direct forcing in CESM1(CAM5) contributes to greater twenty-first century warming relative to CCSM4. There is greater Arctic warming and sea ice loss in CESM1(CAM5), with an ice-free summer Arctic occurring by about 2060 in RCP8.5 (2040s in September) as opposed to about 2100 in CCSM4 (2060s in September).

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Gerald A. Meehl, Warren M. Washington, Benjamin D. Santer, William D. Collins, Julie M. Arblaster, Aixue Hu, David M. Lawrence, Haiyan Teng, Lawrence E. Buja, and Warren G. Strand

Abstract

Climate change scenario simulations with the Community Climate System Model version 3 (CCSM3), a global coupled climate model, show that if concentrations of all greenhouse gases (GHGs) could have been stabilized at the year 2000, the climate system would already be committed to 0.4°C more warming by the end of the twenty-first century. Committed sea level rise by 2100 is about an order of magnitude more, percentage-wise, compared to sea level rise simulated in the twentieth century. This increase in the model is produced only by thermal expansion of seawater, and does not take into account melt from ice sheets and glaciers, which could at least double that number. Several tenths of a degree of additional warming occurs in the model for the next 200 yr in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) B1 and A1B scenarios after stabilization in the year 2100, but with twice as much sea level rise after 100 yr, and doubling yet again in the next 100 yr to 2300. At the end of the twenty-first century, the warming in the tropical Pacific for the A2, A1B, and B1 scenarios resembles an El Niño–like response, likely due to cloud feedbacks in the model as shown in an earlier version. Greatest warming occurs at high northern latitudes and over continents. The monsoon regimes intensify somewhat in the future warmer climate, with decreases of sea level pressure at high latitudes and increases in the subtropics and parts of the midlatitudes. There is a weak summer midlatitude soil moisture drying in this model as documented in previous models. Sea ice distributions in both hemispheres are somewhat overextensive, but with about the right ice thickness at the end of the twentieth century. Future decreases in sea ice with global warming are proportional to the temperature response from the forcing scenarios, with the high forcing scenario, A2, producing an ice-free Arctic in summer by the year 2100.

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Gerald A. Meehl, Warren M. Washington, Julie M. Arblaster, Aixue Hu, Haiyan Teng, Claudia Tebaldi, Benjamin N. Sanderson, Jean-Francois Lamarque, Andrew Conley, Warren G. Strand, and James B. White III

Abstract

Results are presented from experiments performed with the Community Climate System Model, version 4 (CCSM4) for the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5). These include multiple ensemble members of twentieth-century climate with anthropogenic and natural forcings as well as single-forcing runs, sensitivity experiments with sulfate aerosol forcing, twenty-first-century representative concentration pathway (RCP) mitigation scenarios, and extensions for those scenarios beyond 2100–2300. Equilibrium climate sensitivity of CCSM4 is 3.20°C, and the transient climate response is 1.73°C. Global surface temperatures averaged for the last 20 years of the twenty-first century compared to the 1986–2005 reference period for six-member ensembles from CCSM4 are +0.85°, +1.64°, +2.09°, and +3.53°C for RCP2.6, RCP4.5, RCP6.0, and RCP8.5, respectively. The ocean meridional overturning circulation (MOC) in the Atlantic, which weakens during the twentieth century in the model, nearly recovers to early twentieth-century values in RCP2.6, partially recovers in RCP4.5 and RCP6, and does not recover by 2100 in RCP8.5. Heat wave intensity is projected to increase almost everywhere in CCSM4 in a future warmer climate, with the magnitude of the increase proportional to the forcing. Precipitation intensity is also projected to increase, with dry days increasing in most subtropical areas. For future climate, there is almost no summer sea ice left in the Arctic in the high RCP8.5 scenario by 2100, but in the low RCP2.6 scenario there is substantial sea ice remaining in summer at the end of the century.

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