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Timothy DelSole, Xiaoqin Yan, and Michael K. Tippett

Abstract

Hydrological sensitivity is the change in global-mean precipitation per degree of global-mean temperature change. This paper shows that the hydrological sensitivity of the response to anthropogenic aerosol forcing is distinct from that of the combined response to all other forcings and that this difference is sufficient to infer the associated cooling in global-mean temperature. This result is demonstrated using temperature and precipitation data generated by climate models and is robust across different climate models. Remarkably, greenhouse gas warming and aerosol cooling can be estimated in a model without using any spatial or temporal gradient information in the response, provided temperature data are augmented by precipitation data. Over the late twentieth century, the hydrological sensitivities of climate models differ significantly from that of observations. Whether this discrepancy can be attributed to observational error, which is substantial as different estimates of global-mean precipitation are not even significantly correlated with each other, or to model error is unclear. The results highlight the urgency to construct accurate estimates of global precipitation from past observations and for reducing model uncertainty in hydrological sensitivity. This paper also clarifies that previous estimates of hydrological sensitivity are limited in that standard regression methods neglect temperature–precipitation relations that occur through internal variability. An alternative method for estimating hydrological sensitivity that overcomes this limitation is presented.

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Xiaoqin Yan, Timothy DelSole, and Michael K. Tippett

Abstract

This paper shows that joint temperature–precipitation information over a global domain provides a more accurate estimate of aerosol forced responses in climate models than does any other combination of temperature, precipitation, or sea level pressure. This fact is demonstrated using a new quantity called potential detectability, which measures the extent to which a forced response can be detected in a model. In particular, this measure can be evaluated independently of observations and therefore permits efficient exploration of a large number of variable combinations before performing optimal fingerprinting on observations. This paper also shows that the response to anthropogenic aerosol forcing can be separated from that of other forcings using only spatial structure alone, leaving the time variation of the response to be inferred from data, thereby demonstrating that temporal information is not necessary for detection. The spatial structure of the forced response is derived by maximizing the signal-to-noise ratio. For single variables, the north–south hemispheric gradient and equator-to-pole latitudinal gradient are important spatial structures for detecting anthropogenic aerosols in some models but not all. Sea level pressure is not an independent detection variable because it is derived partly from surface temperature. In no case does sea level pressure significantly enhance potential detectability beyond that already possible using surface temperature. Including seasonal or land–sea contrast information does not significantly enhance detectability of anthropogenic aerosol responses relative to annual means over global domains.

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Paul A. Dirmeyer, Yan Jin, Bohar Singh, and Xiaoqin Yan

Abstract

Data from 15 models of phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) for preindustrial, historical, and future climate change experiments are examined for consensus changes in land surface variables, fluxes, and metrics relevant to land–atmosphere interactions. Consensus changes in soil moisture and latent heat fluxes for past-to-present and present-to-future periods are consistent with CMIP3 simulations, showing a general drying trend over land (less soil moisture, less evaporation) over most of the globe, with the notable exception of high northern latitudes during winter. Sensible heat flux and net radiation declined from preindustrial times to current conditions according to the multimodel consensus, mainly due to increasing aerosols, but that trend reverses abruptly in the future projection. No broad trends are found in soil moisture memory except for reductions during boreal winter associated with high-latitude warming and diminution of frozen soils. Land–atmosphere coupling is projected to increase in the future across most of the globe, meaning a greater control by soil moisture variations on surface fluxes and the lower troposphere. There is also a strong consensus for a deepening atmospheric boundary layer and diminished gradients across the entrainment zone at the top of the boundary layer, indicating that the land surface feedback on the atmosphere should become stronger both in absolute terms and relative to the influence of the conditions of the free atmosphere. Coupled with the trend toward greater hydrologic extremes such as severe droughts, the land surface seems likely to play a greater role in amplifying both extremes and trends in climate on subseasonal and longer time scales.

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Paul A. Dirmeyer, Yan Jin, Bohar Singh, and Xiaoqin Yan

Abstract

Long-term changes in land–atmosphere interactions during spring and summer are examined over North America. A suite of models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project simulating preindustrial, historical, and severe future climate change scenarios are examined for changes in soil moisture, surface fluxes, atmospheric boundary layer characteristics, and metrics of land–atmosphere coupling.

Simulations of changes from preindustrial to modern conditions show warming brings stronger surface fluxes at high latitudes, while subtropical regions of North America respond with drier conditions. There is a clear anthropogenic aerosol response in midlatitudes that reduces surface radiation and heat fluxes, leading to shallower boundary layers and lower cloud base. Over the Great Plains, the signal does not reflect a purely radiatively forced response, showing evidence that the expansion of agriculture may have offset the aerosol impacts on the surface energy and water cycle.

Future changes show soils are projected to dry across North America, even though precipitation increases north of a line that retreats poleward from spring to summer. Latent heat flux also has a north–south dipole of change, increasing north and decreasing south of a line that also moves northward with the changing season. Metrics of land–atmosphere feedback increase over most of the continent but are strongest where latent heat flux increases in the same location and season where precipitation decreases. Combined with broadly elevated cloud bases and deeper boundary layers, land–atmosphere interactions are projected to become more important in the future with possible consequences for seasonal climate prediction.

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Timothy DelSole, Xiaoqin Yan, Paul A. Dirmeyer, Mike Fennessy, and Eric Altshuler

Abstract

The change in predictability of monthly mean temperature in a future climate is quantified based on the Community Climate System Model, version 4. According to this model, the North Atlantic overtakes the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) as the dominant area of seasonal predictability by 2095. This change arises partly because ENSO becomes less variable and partly because the ENSO teleconnection pattern expands into the Atlantic. Over land, the largest change in temperature predictability occurs in the tropics and is predominantly due to a decrease in ENSO variability. The southern peninsula of Africa and northeast South America are predicted to experience significant drying in a future climate, which decreases the effective heat capacity and memory, and hence increases variance independently of ENSO changes. Extratropical land areas experience enhanced precipitation in a future climate, which decreases temperature variance by the same mechanism. Finally, the model predicts that surface temperatures near the poles will become more predictable and less variable in a future climate, primarily because melting sea ice exposes the underlying sea surface temperature, which is more predictable owing to its longer time scale. Some of these results, especially the change in ENSO variance, are known to be model dependent. This paper also advances the use of information theory to quantify predictability, including 1) deriving a quantitative relation between predictability of the first and second kinds; 2) showing how differences in predictability can be decomposed in two dramatically different ways, facilitating physical interpretation; and 3) proposing a sample estimate of mutual information whose significance can be tested using standard techniques.

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Xiaoqin Jing, Lulin Xue, Yan Yin, Jing Yang, Daniel F. Steinhoff, Andrew Monaghan, David Yates, Changhai Liu, Roy Rasmussen, Sourav Taraphdar, and Olivier Pauluis

Abstract

The regional climate of the Arabian Gulf region is modeled using a set of simulations based on the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model, including a 30-yr benchmark simulation driven by reanalysis data, and two bias-corrected Community Earth System Model (CESM)-driven (BCD) WRF simulations for retrospective and future periods that both include 10-yr convection-permitting nested simulations. The modeled precipitation is cross-validated using Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission data, rain gauge data, and the baseline dataset from the benchmark simulation. The changes in near-surface temperature, precipitation, and ambient conditions are investigated using the BCD WRF simulations. The results show that the BCD WRF simulation well captures the precipitation distribution, the precipitation variability, and the thermodynamic properties. In a warmer climate under the RCP8.5 scenario around the year 2070, the near-surface temperature warms by ~3°C. Precipitation increases over the Arabian Gulf, and decreases over most of the continental area, particularly over the Zagros Mountains. The wet index decreases while the maximum dry spell increases in most areas of the model domain. The future changes in precipitation are determined by both the thermodynamics and dynamics. The thermodynamic impact, which is controlled by the warming and moistening, results in more precipitation over the ocean but not over the land. The dynamic impact, which is controlled by changes in the large-scale circulation, results in decrease in precipitation over mountains. The simulations presented in this study provide a unique dataset to study the regional climate in the Arabian Gulf region for both retrospective and future climates.

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