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The Fingerprint of Global Warming in the Tropical Pacific

doi: 10.1007/s00376-016-6014-1

  • Bayr T., D. Dommenget, T. Martin, and S. Power, 2014: The eastward shift of the Walker Circulation in response to global warming and its relationship to ENSO variability. Climate Dyn., 43, 2747- 2763.10.1007/ study investigates the global warming response of the Walker Circulation and the other zonal circulation cells (represented by the zonal stream function), in CMIP3 and CMIP5 climate models. The changes in the mean state are presented as well as the changes in the modes of variability. The mean zonal circulation weakens in the multi model ensembles nearly everywhere along the equator under both the RCP4.5 and SRES A1B scenarios. Over the Pacific the Walker Circulation also shows a significant eastward shift. These changes in the mean circulation are very similar to the leading mode of interannual variability in the tropical zonal circulation cells, which is dominated by El Ni09o Southern Oscillation variability. During an El Ni09o event the circulation weakens and the rising branch over the Maritime Continent shifts to the east in comparison to neutral conditions (vice versa for a La Ni09a event). Two-thirds of the global warming forced trend of the Walker Circulation can be explained by a long-term trend in this interannual variability pattern, i.e. a shift towards more El Ni09o-like conditions in the multi-model mean under global warming. Further, interannual variability in the zonal circulation exhibits an asymmetry between El Ni09o and La Ni09a events. El Ni09o anomalies are located more to the east compared with La Ni09a anomalies. Consistent with this asymmetry we find a shift to the east of the dominant mode of variability of zonal stream function under global warming. All these results vary among the individual models, but the multi model ensembles of CMIP3 and CMIP5 show in nearly all aspects very similar results, which underline the robustness of these results. The observed data (ERA Interim reanalysis) from 1979 to 2012 shows a westward shift and strengthening of the Walker Circulation . This is opposite to what the results in the CMIP models reveal. However, 7502% of the trend of the Walker Circulation can again be explained by a shift of the dominant mode of variability, but here towards more La Ni09a-like conditions. Thus in both climate change projections and observations the long-term trends of the Walker Circulation seem to follow to a large part the pre-existing dominant mode of internal variability.
    Chadwick R., I. Boutle, and G. Martin, 2013: Spatial patterns of precipitation change in CMIP5: Why the rich do not get richer in the tropics. J. Climate, 26, 3803- 3822.10.1175/ Changes in the patterns of tropical precipitation ( P ) and circulation are analyzed in Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) GCMs under the representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) scenario. A robust weakening of the tropical circulation is seen across models, associated with a divergence feedback that acts to reduce convection most in areas of largest climatological ascent. This is in contrast to the convergence feedback seen in interannual variability of tropical precipitation patterns. The residual pattern of convective mass-flux change is associated with shifts in convergence zones due to mechanisms such as SST gradient change, and this is often locally larger than the weakening due to the divergence feedback. A simple framework is constructed to separate precipitation change into components based on different mechanisms and to relate it directly to circulation change. While the tropical mean increase in precipitation is due to the residual between the positive thermodynamic change due to increased specific humidity and the decreased convective mass flux due to the weakening of the circulation, the spatial patterns of these two components largely cancel each other out. The rich-get-richer mechanism of greatest precipitation increases in ascent regions is almost negated by this cancellation, explaining why the spatial correlation between climatological P and the climate change anomaly 螖 P is only 0.2 over the tropics for the CMIP5 multimodel mean. This leaves the spatial pattern of precipitation change to be dominated by the component associated with shifts in convergence zones, both in the multimodel mean and intermodel uncertainty, with the component due to relative humidity change also becoming important over land.
    Clement A. C., R. Seager, M. A. Cane, and S. E. Zebiak, 1996: An ocean dynamical thermostat. J. Climate, 9, 2190- 2196.10.1175/1520-0442(1996)0092.0.CO; The role of ocean dynamics in the regulation of tropical sea surface temperatures (SSTs) is investigated using the Zebiak-Cane coupled occan-atmosphere model. The model is forced with a uniform heating, or cooling, varying between 卤40 W m2 into the ocean surface. A new climatological SST pattern is established for which the area-averaged temperature change is smaller in magnitude than the imposed forcing. The forcing is balanced almost equally by a change in the heat flux out of the ocean and by vertical advection of heat in the ocean through anomalous equatorial ocean upwelling. The generation of anomalous upwelling is identified here as a possible mechanism capable of regulating tropical SSTS. This ocean dynamical thermostat mechanism has, a seasonally varying efficiency that causes amplification (weakening) of the seasonal cycle for the heating (cooling). The interannual variability also changes under the imposed forcing. These results suggest that the role of ocean dynamic should he included in any discussion of the regulation of the tropical climate.
    Held I. M., B. J. Soden, 2006: Robust responses of the hydrological cycle to global warming. J. Climate, 19, 5686- 5699.10.1175/ Using the climate change experiments generated for the Fourth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, this study examines some aspects of the changes in the hydrological cycle that are robust across the models. These responses include the decrease in convective mass fluxes, the increase in horizontal moisture transport, the associated enhancement of the pattern of evaporation minus precipitation and its temporal variance, and the decrease in the horizontal sensible heat transport in the extratropics. A surprising finding is that a robust decrease in extratropical sensible heat transport is found only in the equilibrium climate response, as estimated in slab ocean responses to the doubling of CO 2 , and not in transient climate change scenarios. All of these robust responses are consequences of the increase in lower-tropospheric water vapor.
    Liu Z., S. Vavrus, F. He, N. Wen, and Y. Zhong, 2005: Rethinking tropical ocean response to global warming: The enhanced equatorial warming. J. Climate, 18, 4684-
    Xie S. P., C. Deser, G. A. Vecchi, J. Ma, H. Teng, and A. T. Wittenberg, 2010: Global warming pattern formation: Sea surface temperature and rainfall. J. Climate, 23, 966- 986.10.1175/ Spatial variations in sea surface temperature (SST) and rainfall changes over the tropics are investigated based on ensemble simulations for the first half of the twenty-first century under the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission scenario A1B with coupled ocean-tmosphere general circulation models of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) and National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Despite a GHG increase that is nearly uniform in space, pronounced patterns emerge in both SST and precipitation. Regional differences in SST warming can be as large as the tropical-mean warming. Specifically, the tropical Pacific warming features a conspicuous maximum along the equator and a minimum in the southeast subtropics. The former is associated with westerly wind anomalies whereas the latter is linked to intensified southeast trade winds, suggestive of wind vaporation ST feedback. There is a tendency for a greater warming in the northern subtropics than in the southern subtropics in accordance with asymmetries in trade wind changes. Over the equatorial Indian Ocean, surface wind anomalies are easterly, the thermocline shoals, and the warming is reduced in the east, indicative of Bjerknes feedback. In the midlatitudes, ocean circulation changes generate narrow banded structures in SST warming. The warming is negatively correlated with wind speed change over the tropics and positively correlated with ocean heat transport change in the northern extratropics. A diagnostic method based on the ocean mixed layer heat budget is developed to investigate mechanisms for SST pattern formation. Tropical precipitation changes are positively correlated with spatial deviations of SST warming from the tropical mean. In particular, the equatorial maximum in SST warming over the Pacific anchors a band of pronounced rainfall increase. The gross moist instability follows closely relative SST change as equatorial wave adjustments flatten upper-tropospheric warming. The comparison with atmospheric simulations in response to a spatially uniform SST warming illustrates the importance of SST patterns for rainfall change, an effect overlooked in current discussion of precipitation response to global warming. Implications for the global and regional response of tropical cyclones are discussed.
    Ying J., P. Huang, and R. H. Huang, 2016: Evaluating the formation mechanisms of the equatorial Pacific SST warming pattern in CMIP5 models. Adv. Atmos. Sci.,33(4), doi: 10.1007/
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The Fingerprint of Global Warming in the Tropical Pacific

  • 1. Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen/Bjerknes Center for Climate Research, Bergen 5007, Norway
  • 2. Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center/Bjerknes Center for Climate Research, Bergen 5006, Norway
  • 3. ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment, Monash University, Clayton, VIC, Australia





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