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Decadal Variability in the North Pacific and North Atlantic under Global Warming: The Weakening Response and Its Mechanism

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  • 1 LACOAS, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China
  • 2 Atmospheric Science Program, Department of Geography, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
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Abstract

We investigate the response of decadal variability in the North Pacific and North Atlantic under global warming and its mechanism in this study. To do so, we use four models (BCC-CSM1–1, CCSM4, IPSL-CM5A-LR, and MPI-ESM-LR) that participated in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), focusing on three global warming scenarios (RCP2.6, RCP4.5, and RCP8.5). Our analysis shows that the intensified global warming leads to a decrease in amplitude of both the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) and Atlantic multidecadal variability (AMV), resulting in reduced decadal variability of sea surface temperature (SST) in both the North Pacific and North Atlantic. In comparison, interannual variability is less impacted by global warming and has a tendency to increase, which leads to a shift of spectral power from decadal toward interannual variability. We then show the weakening decadal variability is caused partly by the weakened forcing of atmospheric heat flux variability, and partly by the increased SST damping rate. In addition, an enhanced upper-ocean stratification under global warming also contributes to the acceleration of Rossby waves, and a shift of decadal variability spectral power toward a shorter period.

Denotes content that is immediately available upon publication as open access.

Corresponding author: Zhengyu Liu, liu.7022@osu.edu; Sheng Wu, wishwishwish@pku.edu.cn

Abstract

We investigate the response of decadal variability in the North Pacific and North Atlantic under global warming and its mechanism in this study. To do so, we use four models (BCC-CSM1–1, CCSM4, IPSL-CM5A-LR, and MPI-ESM-LR) that participated in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), focusing on three global warming scenarios (RCP2.6, RCP4.5, and RCP8.5). Our analysis shows that the intensified global warming leads to a decrease in amplitude of both the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) and Atlantic multidecadal variability (AMV), resulting in reduced decadal variability of sea surface temperature (SST) in both the North Pacific and North Atlantic. In comparison, interannual variability is less impacted by global warming and has a tendency to increase, which leads to a shift of spectral power from decadal toward interannual variability. We then show the weakening decadal variability is caused partly by the weakened forcing of atmospheric heat flux variability, and partly by the increased SST damping rate. In addition, an enhanced upper-ocean stratification under global warming also contributes to the acceleration of Rossby waves, and a shift of decadal variability spectral power toward a shorter period.

Denotes content that is immediately available upon publication as open access.

Corresponding author: Zhengyu Liu, liu.7022@osu.edu; Sheng Wu, wishwishwish@pku.edu.cn
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