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Wang, H, Xie SP, Tokinaga H, Liu Q, Kosaka Y.  2016.  Detecting cross-equatorial wind change as a fingerprint of climate response to anthropogenic aerosol forcing. Geophysical Research Letters. 43:3444-3450.   10.1002/2016gl068521   AbstractWebsite

Anthropogenic aerosols are amajor driver of the twetieth century climate change. In climate models, the aerosol forcing, larger in the Northern than Southern Hemispheres, induces an interhemispheric Hadley circulation. In support of the model result, we detected a robust change in the zonal mean cross-equatorial wind over the past 60 years from ship observations and reanalyses, accompanied by physically consistent changes in atmospheric pressure and marine cloud cover. Single-forcing experiments indicate that the observed change in cross-equatorial wind is a fingerprint of aerosol forcing. This zonal mean mode follows the evolution of global aerosol forcing that is distinct from regional changes in the Atlantic sector. Atmospheric simulations successfully reproduce this interhemispheric mode, indicating the importance of sea surface temperature mediation in response to anthropogenic aerosol forcing. As societies awaken to reduce aerosol emissions, a phase reversal of this interhemispheric mode is expected in the 21st century.

Richter, I, Behera SK, Doi T, Taguchi B, Masumoto Y, Xie SP.  2014.  What controls equatorial Atlantic winds in boreal spring? Climate Dynamics. 43:3091-3104.   10.1007/s00382-014-2170-0   AbstractWebsite

The factors controlling equatorial Atlantic winds in boreal spring are examined using both observations and general circulation model (GCM) simulations from the coupled model intercomparison phase 5. The results show that the prevailing surface easterlies flow against the attendant pressure gradient and must therefore be maintained by other terms in the momentum budget. An important contribution comes from meridional advection of zonal momentum but the dominant contribution is the vertical transport of zonal momentum from the free troposphere to the surface. This implies that surface winds are strongly influenced by conditions in the free troposphere, chiefly pressure gradients and, to a lesser extent, meridional advection. Both factors are linked to the patterns of deep convection. Applying these findings to GCM errors indicates, that, consistent with the results of previous studies, the persistent westerly surface wind bias found in most GCMs is due mostly to precipitation errors, in particular excessive precipitation south of the equator over the ocean and deficient precipitation over equatorial South America. Free tropospheric influences also dominate the interannual variability of surface winds in boreal spring. GCM experiments with prescribed climatological sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) indicate that the free tropospheric influences are mostly associated with internal atmospheric variability. Since the surface wind anomalies in boreal spring are crucial to the development of warm SST events (Atlantic Ninos), the results imply that interannual variability in the region may rely far less on coupled air-sea feedbacks than is the case in the tropical Pacific.

Liu, JW, Xie SP, Norris JR, Zhang SP.  2014.  Low-level cloud response to the Gulf Stream front in winter using CALIPSO. Journal of Climate. 27:4421-4432.   10.1175/jcli-d-13-00469.1   AbstractWebsite

A sharp sea surface temperature front develops between the warm water of the Gulf Stream and cold continental shelf water in boreal winter. This front has a substantial impact on the marine boundary layer. The present study analyzes and synthesizes satellite observations and reanalysis data to examine how the sea surface temperature front influences the three-dimensional structure of low-level clouds. The Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) satellite captures a sharp low-level cloud transition across the Gulf Stream front, a structure frequently observed under the northerly condition. Low-level cloud top (<4 km) increases by about 500 m from the cold to the warm flank of the front. The sea surface temperature front induces a secondary low-level circulation through sea level pressure adjustment with ascending motion over the warm water and descending motion over cold water. The secondary circulation further contributes to the cross-frontal transition of low-level clouds. Composite analysis shows that surface meridional advection over the front plays an important role in the development of the marine atmospheric boundary layer and low-level clouds. Under cold northerly advection over the Gulf Stream front, strong near-surface instability leads to a well-mixed boundary layer over the Gulf Stream, causing southward deepening of low-level clouds across the sea surface temperature front. Moreover, the front affects the freezing level by transferring heat to the atmosphere and therefore influences the cross-frontal variation of the cloud phase.

Xie, SP, Lu B, Xiang BQ.  2013.  Similar spatial patterns of climate responses to aerosol and greenhouse gas changes. Nature Geoscience. 6:828-832.   10.1038/ngeo1931   AbstractWebsite

Spatial variations in ocean warming have been linked to regional changes in tropical cyclones(1), precipitation(2,3) and monsoons(4). But development of reliable regional climate projections for climate change mitigation and adaptation remains challenging(5). The presence of anthropogenic aerosols, which are highly variable in space and time, is thought to induce spatial patterns of climate response that are distinct from those of well-mixed greenhouse gases(4,6-9) Using CMIP5 climate simulations that consider aerosols and greenhouse gases separately, we show that regional responses to changes in greenhouse gases and aerosols are similar over the ocean, as reflected in similar spatial patterns of ocean temperature and precipitation. This similarity suggests that the climate response to radiative changes is relatively insensitive to the spatial distribution of these changes. Although anthropogenic aerosols are largely confined to the Northern Hemisphere, simulations that include aerosol forcing predict decreases in temperature and westerly wind speed that reach the pristine Southern Hemisphere oceans. Over land, the climate response to aerosol forcing is more localized, but larger scale spatial patterns are also evident. We suggest that the climate responses induced by greenhouse gases and aerosols share key ocean-atmosphere feedbacks, leading to a qualitative resemblance in spatial distribution.