Publications

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Journal Article
Cronin, MF, Xie SP, Hashizume H.  2003.  Barometric pressure variations associated with Eastern Pacific tropical instability waves. Journal of Climate. 16:3050-3057. Abstract
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Collins, M, Minobe S, Barreiro M, Bordoni S, Kaspi Y, Kuwano-Yoshida A, Keenlyside N, Manzini E, O'Reilly CH, Sutton R, Xie SP, Zolina O.  2018.  Challenges and opportunities for improved understanding of regional climate dynamics. Nature Climate Change. 8:101-108.   10.1038/s41558-017-0059-8   AbstractWebsite

Dynamical processes in the atmosphere and ocean are central to determining the large-scale drivers of regional climate change, yet their predictive understanding is poor. Here, we identify three frontline challenges in climate dynamics where significant progress can be made to inform adaptation: response of storms, blocks and jet streams to external forcing; basin-to-basin and tropical-extratropical teleconnections; and the development of non-linear predictive theory. We highlight opportunities and techniques for making immediate progress in these areas, which critically involve the development of high-resolution coupled model simulations, partial coupling or pacemaker experiments, as well as the development and use of dynamical metrics and exploitation of hierarchies of models.

Chelton, DB, Xie S-P.  2010.  COUPLED OCEAN-ATMOSPHERE INTERACTION AT OCEANIC MESOSCALES. Oceanography. 23:52-69. Abstract
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Feng, M, Hendon HH, Xie SP, Marshall AG, Schiller A, Kosaka Y, Caputi N, Pearce A.  2015.  Decadal increase in Ningaloo Nino since the late 1990s. Geophysical Research Letters. 42:104-112.   10.1002/2014gl062509   AbstractWebsite

Ningaloo Nino refers to the episodic occurrence of anomalously warm ocean conditions along the subtropical coast of Western Australia (WA). Ningaloo Nino typically develops in austral spring, peaks in summer, and decays in autumn, and it often occurs in conjunction with La Nina conditions in the Pacific which promote poleward transport of warm tropical waters by the Leeuwin Current. Since the late 1990s, there has been a marked increase in the occurrence of Ningaloo Nino, which is likely related to the recent swing to the negative phase of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) and enhanced El Nino-Southern Oscillation variance since 1970s. The swing to the negative IPO sustains positive heat content anomalies and initiates more frequent cyclonic wind anomalies off the WA coast so favoring enhanced poleward heat transport by the Leeuwin Current. The anthropogenically forced global warming has made it easier for natural variability to drive extreme ocean temperatures in the region.

Li, JB, Xie SP, Cook ER, Chen FH, Shi JF, Zhang DD, Fang KY, Gou XH, Li T, Peng JF, Shi SY, Zhao YS.  2019.  Deciphering human contributions to Yellow River flow reductions and downstream drying using centuries-long tree ring records. Geophysical Research Letters. 46:898-905.   10.1029/2018gl081090   AbstractWebsite

The Yellow River flow has decreased substantially in recent decades, and the river often dried up in the lower reach and failed to reach the sea. Climate change and human disruption have been suggested as major causes of the flow reduction, but quantification of their relative contribution is challenging due to limited instrumental records and disturbance by dams. Here we use a basin-wide tree ring network to reconstruct the Yellow River flow for the past 1,200 years and show that the flow exhibits marked amplitude variations that are closely coupled to the hydrological mean state swings at multidecadal to centennial timescales. Recent flow should have increased to the highest level of the past 1,200 years if there were no human disruption. However, human activities have caused a loss of nearly half of natural flow since the late 1960s and are the main culprit for recent downstream flow reduction. Plain Language Summary Recent Yellow River flow reductions have had major impacts on China's economy and water policy. The short and heavily human-modified gauge records are unable to reveal natural flow variability now and in the past. Here we use tree rings to reconstruct long-term Yellow River flow, which enables an assessment of natural flow variability and the detection of human contributions to recent flow reductions. Our 1,200-year reconstruction reveals that under natural conditions the Yellow River flow should have increased markedly since the early twentieth century. However, the observed flow decreased since the late 1960s and such a decrease must be predominately caused by human interventions instead of climate change.

Chang, CH, Xie SP, Schneider N, Qiu B, Small J, Zhuang W, Taguchi B, Sasaki H, Lin XP.  2012.  East Pacific ocean eddies and their relationship to subseasonal variability in Central American wind jets. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 117   10.1029/2011jc007315   Abstract

Subseasonal variability in sea surface height (SSH) over the East Pacific warm pool off Central America is investigated using satellite observations and an eddy-resolving ocean general circulation model. SSH variability is organized into two southwest-tilted bands on the northwest flank of the Tehuantepec and Papagayo wind jets and collocated with the thermocline troughs. Eddy-like features of wavelength similar to 600 km propagate southwestward along the high-variance bands at a speed of 9-13 cm/s. Wind fluctuations are important for eddy formation in the Gulf of Tehuantepec, with a recurring interval of 40-90 days. When forced by satellite wind observations, the model reproduces the two high-variance bands and the phase propagation of the Tehuantepec eddies. Our observational analysis and model simulation suggest the following evolution of the Tehuantepec eddies. On the subseasonal timescale, in response to the gap wind intensification, a coastal anticyclonic eddy forms on the northwest flank of the wind jet and strengthens as it propagates offshore in the following two to three weeks. An energetics analysis based on the model simulation indicates that besides wind work, barotropic and baroclinic instabilities of the mean flow are important for the eddy growth. Both observational and model results suggest a re-intensification of the anticyclonic eddy in response to the subsequent wind jet event. Off Papagayo, ocean eddy formation is not well correlated with local wind jet variability. In both the Gulfs of Tehuantepec and Papagayo, subseasonal SSH variability is preferentially excited on the northwest flank of the wind jet. Factors for this asymmetry about the wind jet axis as well as the origins of wind jet variability are discussed.

Timmermann, A, Lorenz SJ, An SI, Clement A, Xie SP.  2007.  The effect of orbital forcing on the mean climate and variability of the tropical Pacific. Journal of Climate. 20:4147-4159.   10.1175/jcli4240.1   Abstract
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Chow, CH, Liu QY, Xie SP.  2015.  Effects of Kuroshio Intrusions on the atmosphere northeast of Taiwan Island. Geophysical Research Letters. 42:1465-1470.   10.1002/2014gl062796   AbstractWebsite

The Kuroshio loses bathymetric support off northeast Taiwan Island, causing large variability in its path. The resultant covariability of sea surface temperature (SST) and the lower atmosphere is investigated using satellite observations. In winter and spring off northeast Taiwan Island, the intrusions of warm Kuroshio water onto the continental shelf cause a large increase in local SST, intensify the northeasterly monsoonal winds, and lead to the increases in water vapor and rainfall. Key to this air-sea interaction is the existence of anomalous heat advection by the Kuroshio intrusions. The Kuroshio intrusions are partly due to westward propagating ocean eddies east of Taiwan Island with a lead time of 3weeks, hinting at the possibility of improved weather prediction near northeast Taiwan Island by considering ocean variability east of Taiwan Island.

Li, JB, Xie SP, Cook ER, Morales MS, Christie DA, Johnson NC, Chen FH, D'Arrigo R, Fowler AM, Gou XH, Fang KY.  2013.  El Nino modulations over the past seven centuries. Nature Climate Change. 3:822-826.   10.1038/nclimate1936   AbstractWebsite

Predicting how the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) will change with global warming is of enormous importance to society(1-4). ENSO exhibits considerable natural variability at interdecadal-centennial timescales(5). Instrumental records are too short to determine whether ENSO has changed(6) and existing reconstructions are often developed without adequate tropical records. Here we present a seven-century-long ENSO reconstruction based on 2,222 tree-ring chronologies from both the tropics and mid-latitudes in both hemispheres. The inclusion of tropical records enables us to achieve unprecedented accuracy, as attested by high correlations with equatorial Pacific corals(7,8) and coherent modulation of global teleconnections that are consistent with an independent Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstruction(9). Our data indicate that ENSO activity in the late twentieth century was anomalously high over the past seven centuries, suggestive of a response to continuing global warming. Climate models disagree on the ENSO response to global warming(3,4), suggesting that many models underestimate the sensitivity to radiative perturbations. Illustrating the radiative effect, our reconstruction reveals a robust ENSO response to large tropical eruptions, with anomalous cooling in the east-central tropical Pacific in the year of eruption, followed by anomalous warming one year after. Our observations provide crucial constraints for improving climate models and their future projections.

Li, JB, Xie SP, Cook ER.  2014.  El Nino phases embedded in Asian and North American drought reconstructions. Quaternary Science Reviews. 85:20-34.   10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.11.014   AbstractWebsite

The amplitude of El Nil-ID-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) varies substantially at each phase of its evolution, affecting the timing and patterns of atmospheric teleconnections around the globe. Instrumental records are too short to capture the full behavior of ENSO variability. Here we use the well-validated Monsoon Asia Drought Atlas (MADA) and North America Drought Atlas (NADA) for the past 700 years, and show that tree-ring records from different regions represent tropical sea surface temperature (SST) conditions at various phases of ENSO. Three modes of tree-ring based summer drought variability are found to be correlated with ENSO: summer droughts over the Maritime Continent and Southwest North America (NA), and a dipole mode between Central and South Asia. A lagged correlation analysis is performed to determine the time when precipitation and temperature anomaly imprints on summer droughts as recorded in tree-rings. Drought anomalies in the Maritime Continent and Southwest NA represent ENSO at the developing and peak phases respectively, while those over Central/South Asia are associated with tropical-wide SST anomalies (including the Indian Ocean) at the decay phase of ENSO. Thus proxy records from different regions can provide valuable information on long-term behavior of ENSO at different phases. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Xie, SP, Kosaka Y, Du Y, Hu KM, Chowdary J, Huang G.  2016.  Indo-western Pacific ocean capacitor and coherent climate anomalies in post-ENSO summer: A review. Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. 33:411-432.   10.1007/s00376-015-5192-6   AbstractWebsite

ENSO induces coherent climate anomalies over the Indo-western Pacific, but these anomalies outlast SST anomalies of the equatorial Pacific by a season, with major effects on the Asian summer monsoon. This review provides historical accounts of major milestones and synthesizes recent advances in the endeavor to understand summer variability over the Indo-Northwest Pacific region. Specifically, a large-scale anomalous anticyclone (AAC) is a recurrent pattern in post-El NiEeno summers, spanning the tropical Northwest Pacific and North Indian oceans. Regarding the ocean memory that anchors the summer AAC, competing hypotheses emphasize either SST cooling in the easterly trade wind regime of the Northwest Pacific or SST warming in the westerly monsoon regime of the North Indian Ocean. Our synthesis reveals a coupled ocean-atmosphere mode that builds on both mechanisms in a two-stage evolution. In spring, when the northeast trades prevail, the AAC and Northwest Pacific cooling are coupled via wind-evaporation-SST feedback. The Northwest Pacific cooling persists to trigger a summer feedback that arises from the interaction of the AAC and North Indian Ocean warming, enabled by the westerly monsoon wind regime. This Indo-western Pacific ocean capacitor (IPOC) effect explains why El Nino stages its last act over the monsoonal Indo-Northwest Pacific and casts the Indian Ocean warming and AAC in leading roles. The IPOC displays interdecadal modulations by the ENSO variance cycle, significantly correlated with ENSO at the turn of the 20th century and after the 1970s, but not in between. Outstanding issues, including future climate projections, are also discussed.

Timmermann, A, Okumura Y, An SI, Clement A, Dong B, Guilyardi E, Hu A, Jungclaus JH, Renold M, Stocker TF, Stouffer RJ, Sutton R, Xie SP, Yin J.  2007.  The influence of a weakening of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation on ENSO. Journal of Climate. 20:4899-4919.   10.1175/jcli4283.1   Abstract
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Zheng, XT, Hui C, Xie SP, Cai WJ, Long SM.  2019.  Intensification of El Nino Rainfall Variability Over the Tropical Pacific in the Slow Oceanic Response to Global Warming. Geophysical Research Letters. 46:2253-2260.   10.1029/2018gl081414   AbstractWebsite

Changes in rainfall variability of El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are investigated under scenarios where the greenhouse gases increase and then stabilize. During the period of increasing greenhouse forcing, the ocean mixed layer warms rapidly. After the forcing stabilizes, the deeper ocean continues to warm the surface (the slow response). We show that ENSO rainfall variability over the tropical Pacific intensifies in both periods but the rate of increase per degree global mean surface temperature (GMST) warming is larger for the slow response because of greater relative warming in the base state as the mean upwelling changes from a damping to a driver of the surface warming. Our results have important implications for climate extremes under GMST stabilization that the Paris Agreement calls for. To stabilize GMST, the fast surface cooling offsets the slow warming from the prior greenhouse gas increase, while ENSO rainfall variability would continue to increase. Plain Language Summary The Paris Agreement calls for limiting global mean surface temperature increase to well below 2 degrees at the end of the 21st century. This requires the greenhouse gas (GHG) concentration to peak and subsequently decline in the next few decades. After the GHG concentration peak, the heat accumulated in the ocean surface layer continues to penetrate to the deeper ocean. This deeper ocean warming leads to a slow response of surface warming, further influencing the climate system. This study examines scenarios where GHGs increase and then stabilize to isolate the fast and slow responses of El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) rainfall variability. We find intensification of ENSO rainfall variability both during the increase and after stabilization of GHG concentrations due to a persistent El Nino-like mean warming pattern in the tropical Pacific. Furthermore, for unit global mean surface temperature increase, the changes in the mean state temperature and ENSO rainfall variability in the eastern equatorial Pacific is larger during the slow response. These results imply that there is a need for GHG emission reduction in the near future to avoid more extreme tropical rainfall during El Nino.

Cheng, X, Xie S-P, Tokinaga H, Du Y.  2011.  Interannual Variability of High-Wind Occurrence over the North Atlantic. Journal of Climate. 24:6515-6527.   10.1175/2011jcli4147.1   Abstract
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Weller, E, Feng M, Hendon H, Ma J, Xie SP, Caputi N.  2012.  Interannual Variations of Wind Regimes off the Subtropical Western Australia Coast during Austral Winter and Spring. Journal of Climate. 25:5587-5599.   10.1175/jcli-d-11-00324.1   Abstract

Off the Western Australia coast, interannual variations of wind regime during the austral winter and spring are significantly correlated with the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) and the southern annular mode (SAM) variability. Atmospheric general circulation model experiments forced by an idealized IOD sea surface temperature anomaly field suggest that the IOD-generated deep atmospheric convection anomalies trigger a Rossby wave train in the upper troposphere that propagates into the southern extratropics and induces positive geopotential height anomalies over southern Australia, independent of the SAM. The positive geopotential height anomalies extended from the upper troposphere to the surface, south of the Australian continent, resulting in easterly wind anomalies off the Western Australia coast and a reduction of the high-frequency synoptic storm events that deliver the majority of southwest Australia rainfall during austral winter and spring. In the marine environment, the wind anomalies and reduction of storm events may hamper the western rock lobster recruitment process.

Cheng, XH, Xie SP, Du Y, Wang J, Chen X, Wang J.  2016.  Interannual-to-decadal variability and trends of sea level in the South China Sea. Climate Dynamics. 46:3113-3126.   10.1007/s00382-015-2756-1   AbstractWebsite

Interannual-to-decadal variability and trends of sea level in the South China Sea (SCS) are studied using altimetric data during 1993-2012 and reconstructed sea level data from 1950-2009. The interannual variability shows a strong seasonality. Surface wind anomalies associated with El Nio-Southern Oscillation explain the sea-level anomaly pattern in the interior SCS, while Rossby waves radiated from the eastern boundary dominate the sea-level variability in the eastern SCS. Decadal variability of sea level in the SCS follows that in the western tropical Pacific, with large variance found west of Luzon Island. Local atmospheric forcing makes a negative contribution to decadal variability in the central SCS, and Rossby waves radiated from the eastern boundary appear to be important. During 1993-2012, decadal sea level averaged in the SCS is significantly correlated with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) (r = -0.96). The decadal variability associated with the PDO accounts for most part of sea-level trends in the SCS in the last two decades.

Li, J, Xie S-P, Cook ER, Huang G, D'Arrigo R, Liu F, Ma J, Zheng X-T.  2011.  Interdecadal modulation of El Nino amplitude during the past millennium. Nature Climate Change. 1:114-118.   10.1038/nclimate1086   Abstract
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Chowdary, JS, Xie S-P, Tokinaga H, Okumura YM, Kubota H, Johnson N, Zheng X-T.  2012.  Interdecadal Variations in ENSO Teleconnection to the Indo-Western Pacific for 1870-2007. Journal of Climate. 25:1722-1744.   10.1175/jcli-d-11-00070.1   Abstract
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Kosaka, Y, Chowdary JS, Xie SP, Min YM, Lee JY.  2012.  Limitations of Seasonal Predictability for Summer Climate over East Asia and the Northwestern Pacific. Journal of Climate. 25:7574-7589.   10.1175/jcli-d-12-00009.-1   Abstract

Predictability of summer climate anomalies over East Asia and the northwestern Pacific is investigated using observations and a multimodel hindcast ensemble initialized on 1 May for the recent 20-30 yr. Summertime East Asia is under the influence of the northwestern Pacific subtropical high (PASH). The Pacific-Japan (PJ) teleconnection pattern, a meridional dipole of sea level pressure variability, affects the northwestern PASH. The forecast models generally capture the association of the PJ pattern with the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).|The Silk Road pattern, a wave train along the summer Asian jet, is another dominant teleconnection that influences the northwestern PASH and East Asia. In contrast to the PJ pattern, observational analysis reveals a lack of correlations between the Silk Road pattern and ENSO. Coupled models cannot predict the temporal phase of the Silk Road pattern, despite their ability to reproduce its spatial structure as the leading mode of atmospheric internal variability. Thus, the pattern is rather unpredictable at monthly to seasonal lead, limiting the seasonal predictability for summer in East Asia.|The anomalous summer of 2010 in East Asia is a case in point, illustrating the interference by the Silk Road pattern. Canonical anomalies associated with a decayed El Nino and developing La Nina would have the PJ pattern bring a cold summer to East Asia in 2010. In reality, the Silk Road pattern overwhelmed this tendency, bringing a record-breaking hot summer instead. A dynamical model experiment indicates that European blocking was instrumental in triggering the Silk Road pattern in the 2010 summer.

Kwon, EY, Deutsch C, Xie SP, Schmidtko S, Cho YK.  2016.  The North Pacific Oxygen uptake rates over the past half century. Journal of Climate. 29:61-76.   10.1175/jcli-d-14-00157.1   AbstractWebsite

The transport of dissolved oxygen (O-2) from the surface ocean into the interior is a critical process sustaining aerobic life in mesopelagic ecosystems, but its rates and sensitivity to climate variations are poorly understood. Using a circulation model constrained to historical variability by assimilation of observations, the study shows that the North Pacific thermocline effectively takes up O-2 primarily by expanding the area through which O-2-rich mixed layer water is detrained into the thermocline. The outcrop area during the critical winter season varies in concert with the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO). When the central North Pacific Ocean is in a cold phase, the winter outcrop window for the central mode water class (CMW; a neutral density range of = 25.6-26.6) expands southward, allowing more O-2-rich surface water to enter the ocean's interior. An increase in volume flux of water to the CMW density class is partly compensated by a reduced supply to the shallower densities of subtropical mode water ( = 24.0-25.5). The thermocline has become better oxygenated since the 1980s partly because of strong O-2 uptake. Positive O-2 anomalies appear first near the outcrop and subsequently downstream in the subtropical gyre. In contrast to the O-2 variations within the ventilated thermocline, observed O-2 in intermediate water (density range of = 26.7-27.2) shows a declining trend over the past half century, a trend not explained by the open ocean water mass formation rate.

Cai, WJ, Wu LX, Lengaigne M, Li T, McGregor S, Kug JS, Yu JY, Stuecker MF, Santoso A, Li XC, Ham YG, Chikamoto Y, Ng B, McPhaden MJ, Du Y, Dommenget D, Jia F, Kajtar JB, Keenlyside N, Lin XP, Luo JJ, Martin-Rey M, Ruprich-Robert Y, Wang GJ, Xie SP, Yang Y, Kang SM, Choi JY, Gan BL, Kim GI, Kim CE, Kim S, Kim JH, Chang P.  2019.  Pantropical climate interactions. Science. 363:944-+.   10.1126/science.aav4236   AbstractWebsite

The El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which originates in the Pacific, is the strongest and most well-known mode of tropical climate variability. Its reach is global, and it can force climate variations of the tropical Atlantic and Indian Oceans by perturbing the global atmospheric circulation. Less appreciated is how the tropical Atlantic and Indian Oceans affect the Pacific. Especially noteworthy is the multidecadal Atlantic warming that began in the late 1990s, because recent research suggests that it has influenced Indo-Pacific climate, the character of the ENSO cycle, and the hiatus in global surface warming. Discovery of these pantropical interactions provides a pathway forward for improving predictions of climate variability in the current climate and for refining projections of future climate under different anthropogenic forcing scenarios.

Stuecker, MF, Bitz CM, Armour KC, Proistosescu C, Kang SM, Xie SP, Kim D, McGregor S, Zhang WJ, Zhao S, Cai WJ, Dong Y, Jin FF.  2018.  Polar amplification dominated by local forcing and feedbacks. Nature Climate Change. 8:1076-+.   10.1038/s41558-018-0339-y   AbstractWebsite

The surface temperature response to greenhouse gas forcing displays a characteristic pattern of polar-amplified warming(1-5), particularly in the Northern Hemisphere. However, the causes of this polar amplification are still debated. Some studies highlight the importance of surface-albedo feedback(6-8), while others find larger contributions from longwave feedbacks(4,9,10), with changes in atmospheric and oceanic heat transport also thought to play a role(11-16). Here, we determine the causes of polar amplification using climate model simulations in which CO2 forcing is prescribed in distinct geographical regions, with the linear sum of climate responses to regional forcings replicating the response to global forcing. The degree of polar amplification depends strongly on the location of CO2 forcing. In particular, polar amplification is found to be dominated by forcing in the polar regions, specifically through positive local lapse-rate feedback, with ice-albedo and Planck feedbacks playing subsidiary roles. Extra-polar forcing is further shown to be conducive to polar warming, but given that it induces a largely uniform warming pattern through enhanced poleward heat transport, it contributes little to polar amplification. Therefore, understanding polar amplification requires primarily a better insight into local forcing and feedbacks rather than extra-polar processes.

Chowdary, JS, Xie S-P, Luo J-J, Hafner J, Behera S, Masumoto Y, Yamagata T.  2011.  Predictability of Northwest Pacific climate during summer and the role of the tropical Indian Ocean. Climate Dynamics. 36:607-621.   10.1007/s00382-009-0686-5   Abstract
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Chowdary, JS, Xie S-P, Lee J-Y, Kosaka Y, Wang B.  2010.  Predictability of summer northwest Pacific climate in 11 coupled model hindcasts: Local and remote forcing. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 115   10.1029/2010jd014595   Abstract
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Wang, GH, Xie SP, Huang RX, Chen CL.  2015.  Robust warming pattern of global subtropical oceans and its mechanism. Journal of Climate. 28:8574-8584.   10.1175/jcli-d-14-00809.1   AbstractWebsite

The subsurface ocean response to anthropogenic climate forcing remains poorly characterized. From the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP), a robust response of the lower thermocline is identified, where the warming is considerably weaker in the subtropics than in the tropics and high latitudes. The lower thermocline change is inversely proportional to the thermocline depth in the present climatology. Ocean general circulation model (OGCM) experiments show that sea surface warming is the dominant forcing for the subtropical gyre change in contrast to natural variability for which wind dominates, and the ocean response is insensitive to the spatial pattern of surface warming. An analysis based on a ventilated thermocline model shows that the pattern of the lower thermocline change can be interpreted in terms of the dynamic response to the strengthened stratification and downward heat mixing. Consequently, the subtropical gyres become intensified at the surface but weakened in the lower thermcline, consistent with results from CMIP experiments.