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Hu, KM, Huang G, Xie SP.  2019.  Assessing the internal variability in multi-decadal trends of summer surface air temperature over East Asia with a large ensemble of GCM simulations. Climate Dynamics. 52:6229-6242.   10.1007/s00382-018-4503-x   AbstractWebsite

This study investigates the impact of internal variability on East Asian summer (June-July-August) surface air temperature (SAT) trends on the multidecadal time scale based on a 30-member ensemble of simulations that share the same external forcing from 1970 to 2005. The ensemble-mean SAT in East Asia shows a positive trend, but the patterns and the magnitudes in the individual members are remarkably diverse, highlighting the strong effect of internal variability. The first two leading empirical orthogonal function (EOF) modes of the SAT trends among ensemble members are used to represent the leading patterns of internally generated SAT change in East Asia. The first EOF mode displays a south-north dipole structure, associated with a zonally banded circulation pattern over East Asia and the North Pacific. The second mode represents coherent trend in North China, Korea and Japan, accompanied by the Northern Hemisphere annular mode (NAM)-like circulation changes. A dynamical adjustment method is applied to reduce circulation-induced internal variability in SAT, and the adjusted SAT trends are much less variable among ensemble members and more in line with the ensemble mean than the raw trends. Observed evidences show that the summertime SAT in most of East Asia, especially in northern East Asia, has experienced rapid warming in recent decades. After dynamical adjustment, the residual trends of SAT in observations are weaker than the raw trends, especially at high and middle latitudes, suggesting the enhanced warming in northern East Asia over the recent decades was not entirely anthropogenic but partly caused by internal variability.

Shi, JR, Xie SP, Talley LD.  2018.  Evolving relative importance of the Southern Ocean and North Atlantic in anthropogenic ocean heat uptake. Journal of Climate. 31:7459-7479.   10.1175/jcli-d-18-0170.1   AbstractWebsite

Ocean uptake of anthropogenic heat over the past 15 years has mostly occurred in the Southern Ocean, based on Argo float observations. This agrees with historical simulations from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), where the Southern Ocean (south of 30 degrees S) accounts for 72% +/- 28% of global heat uptake, while the contribution from the North Atlantic north of 30 degrees N is only 6%. Aerosols preferentially cool the Northern Hemisphere, and the effect on surface heat flux over the subpolar North Atlantic opposes the greenhouse gas (GHG) effect in nearly equal magnitude. This heat uptake compensation is associated with weakening (strengthening) of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) in response to GHG (aerosol) radiative forcing. Aerosols are projected to decline in the near future, reinforcing the greenhouse effect on the North Atlantic heat uptake. As a result, the Southern Ocean, which will continue to take up anthropogenic heat largely through the mean upwelling of water from depth, will be joined by increased relative contribution from the North Atlantic because of substantial AMOC slowdown in the twenty-first century. In the RCP8.5 scenario, the percentage contribution to global uptake is projected to decrease to 48% +/- 8% in the Southern Ocean and increase to 26% +/- 6% in the northern North Atlantic. Despite the large uncertainty in the magnitude of projected aerosol forcing, our results suggest that anthropogenic aerosols, given their geographic distributions and temporal trajectories, strongly influence the high-latitude ocean heat uptake and interhemispheric asymmetry through AMOC change.

Merrifield, AL, Xie SP.  2016.  Summer US surface air temperature variability: controlling factors and AMIP simulation biases. Journal of Climate. 29:5123-5139.   10.1175/jcli-d-15-0705.1   AbstractWebsite

This study documents and investigates biases in simulating summer surface air temperature (SAT) variability over the continental United States in the Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP) experiment from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Empirical orthogonal function (EOF) and multivariate regression analyses are used to assess the relative importance of circulation and the land surface feedback at setting summer SAT over a 30-yr period (1979-2008). Regions of high SAT variability are closely associated with midtropospheric highs, subsidence, and radiative heating accompanying clear-sky conditions. The land surface exerts a spatially variable influence on SAT through the sensible heat flux and is a second-order effect in the high-variability centers of action (COAs) in observational estimates. The majority of the AMIP models feature high SAT variability over the central United States, displaced south and/or west of observed COAs. SAT COAs in models tend to be concomitant and strongly coupled with regions of high sensible heat flux variability, suggesting that excessive land-atmosphere interaction in these models modulates U.S. summer SAT. In the central United States, models with climatological warm biases also feature less evapotranspiration than ERA-Interim but reasonably reproduce observed SAT variability in the region. Models that overestimate SAT variability tend to reproduce ERA-Interim SAT and evapotranspiration climatology. In light of potential model biases, this analysis calls for careful evaluation of the land-atmosphere interaction hot spot region identified in the central United States. Additionally, tropical sea surface temperatures play a role in forcing the leading EOF mode for summer SAT in models. This relationship is not apparent in observations.

Amaya, DJ, Xie SP, Miller AJ, McPhaden MJ.  2015.  Seasonality of tropical Pacific decadal trends associated with the 21st century global warming hiatus. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 120:6782-6798.   10.1002/2015jc010906   AbstractWebsite

Equatorial Pacific changes during the transition from a nonhiatus period (pre-1999) to the present global warming hiatus period (post-1999) are identified using a combination of reanalysis and observed data sets. Results show increased surface wind forcing has excited significant changes in wind-driven circulation. Over the last two decades, the core of the Equatorial Undercurrent intensified at a rate of 6.9 cm s(-1) decade(-1). Similarly, equatorial upwelling associated with the shallow meridional overturning circulation increased at a rate of 2.0 x 10(-4) cm s(-1) decade(-1) in the central Pacific. Further, a seasonal dependence is identified in the sea surface temperature trends and in subsurface dynamics. Seasonal variations are evident in reversals of equatorial surface flow trends, changes in subsurface circulation, and seasonal deepening/shoaling of the thermocline. Anomalous westward surface flow drives cold-water zonal advection from November to February, leading to surface cooling from December through May. Conversely, eastward surface current anomalies in June-July drive warm-water zonal advection producing surface warming from July to November. An improved dynamical understanding of how the tropical Pacific Ocean responds during transitions into hiatus events, including its seasonal structure, may help to improve future predictability of decadal climate variations.