Publications

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2018
Lin, L, Xu YY, Wang ZL, Diao CR, Dong WJ, Xie SP.  2018.  Changes in extreme rainfall over India and China attributed to regional aerosol-cloud interaction during the late 20th century rapid industrialization. Geophysical Research Letters. 45:7857-7865.   10.1029/2018gl078308   AbstractWebsite

Both mean and extreme rainfall decreased over India and Northern China during 1979-2005 at a rate of 0.2%/decade. The aerosol dampening effects on rainfall has also been suggested as a main driver of mean rainfall shift in India and China. Conflicting views, however, exist on whether aerosols enhance or suppress hazardous extreme heavy rainfall. Using Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) multimodel ensemble, here we show that only a subset of models realistically reproduces the late-20th-century trend of extreme rainfall for the three major regions in Asia: drying in India and Northern China and wetting in Southern China, all consistent with mean rainfall change. As a common feature, this subset of models includes an explicit treatment of the complex physical processes of aerosol-cloud interaction (i.e., both cloud-albedo and cloud-lifetime effects), while simulation performance deteriorates in models that include only aerosol direct effect or cloud-albedo effect. The enhanced aerosol pollution during this rapid industrialization era is the leading cause of the spatially heterogeneous extreme rainfall change by dimming surface solar radiation, cooling adjacent ocean water, and weakening moisture transport into the continental region, while GHG warming or natural variability alone cannot explain the observed changes. Our results indicate that the projected intensification of regional extreme rainfall during the early-to-mid 21st-century, in response to the anticipated aerosol reduction, may be underestimated in global climate models without detailed treatment of complex aerosol-cloud interaction. Plain Language Summary Over Asia, a robust pattern of drying-wetting-drying trend over three most populated regions (India, South China, and North China, respectively) have been observed in the past few decades. Yet the cause of the 30-year trend is rather unclear, with conflicting arguments on the importance of natural variability, the greenhouse gas, land cover, and aerosols. Most of the previous studies, however, fail to provide a holistic explanation for all three major regions simultaneously. The aerosol-cloud interaction-induced oceanic cooling, as we show here, provides a critical piece in reproducing the past trend. Only a fraction of climate models with complex treatment of aerosol-cloud interaction capture the observed pattern; thus, unconstrained model data set provides biased outlook of extreme rainfall in this region.

Liu, W, Lu J, Xie SP, Fedorov A.  2018.  Southern Ocean heat uptake, redistribution, and storage in a warming climate: The role of meridional overturning circulation. Journal of Climate. 31:4727-4743.   10.1175/jcli-d-17-0761.1   AbstractWebsite

Climate models show that most of the anthropogenic heat resulting from increased atmospheric CO2 enters the Southern Ocean near 60 degrees S and is stored around 45 degrees S. This heat is transported to the ocean interior by the meridional overturning circulation (MOC) with wind changes playing an important role in the process. To isolate and quantify the latter effect, we apply an overriding technique to a climate model and decompose the total ocean response to CO2 increase into two major components: one due to wind changes and the other due to direct CO2 effect. We find that the poleward-intensified zonal surface winds tend to shift and strengthen the ocean Deacon cell and hence the residual MOC, leading to anomalous divergence of ocean meridional heat transport around 60 degrees S coupled to a surface heat flux increase. In contrast, at 45 degrees S we see anomalous convergence of ocean heat transport and heat loss at the surface. As a result, the wind-induced ocean heat storage (OHS) peaks at 46 degrees S at a rate of 0.07 ZJ yr(-1) (degrees lat)(-1) (1 ZJ = 10(21) J), contributing 20% to the total OHS maximum. The direct CO2 effect, on the other hand, very slightly alters the residual MOC but primarily warms the ocean. It induces a small but nonnegligible change in eddy heat transport and causes OHS to peak at 42 degrees S at a rate of 0.30 ZJ yr(-1) (degrees lat)(-1), accounting for 80% of the OHS maximum. We also find that the eddy-induced MOC weakens, primarily caused by a buoyancy flux change as a result of the direct CO2 effect, and does not compensate the intensified Deacon cell.

Yang, L, Liu JW, Ren ZP, Xie SP, Zhang SP, Gao SH.  2018.  Atmospheric conditions for advection-radiation fog over the western Yellow Sea. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 123:5455-5468.   10.1029/2017jd028088   AbstractWebsite

Advection fog occurs usually when warm and moist air flows over cold sea surface. It is occasionally reported that the fog air temperature falls below sea surface temperature (called here the sea fog with sea surface heating [ssH]) due to longwave radiation cooling at fog top. Using 8-year buoy observations, this study reveals that about 33% of the time, the advection fog is with ssH in the western Yellow Sea. By synthesizing long-term observations from meteorological stations, atmospheric soundings, and offshore buoys, this study further investigates the marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL) structure and atmospheric circulation associated with the ssH sea fog. Composite analysis shows that a local anomalous high pressure favors widespread formation of the ssH sea fog. The subsidence in the high pressure intensifies the thermal and moist stratification between the MABL and free atmosphere through adiabatic warming. The dry air above helps cool the fog layer by enhancing the longwave radiative cooling at the fog top and the vertical mixing beneath, causing air temperature to drop below sea surface temperature. The ratio of sea fog with ssH to total sea fog decreases from spring to summer as the descending motion and MABL stratification both weaken. This study highlights the importance of longwave radiative cooling at the advection fog top and suggests a way to improve sea fog forecast in the Yellow Sea.

2016
Long, SM, Xie SP.  2016.  Uncertainty in tropical rainfall projections: Atmospheric circulation effect and the ocean coupling. Journal of Climate. 29:2671-2687.   10.1175/jcli-d-15-0601.1   AbstractWebsite

Uncertainty in tropical rainfall projections under increasing radiative forcing is studied by using 26 models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. Intermodel spread in projected rainfall change generally increases with interactive sea surface temperature (SST) warming in coupled models compared to atmospheric models with a common pattern of prescribed SST increase. Moisture budget analyses reveal that much of the model uncertainty in tropical rainfall projections originates from intermodel discrepancies in the dynamical contribution due to atmospheric circulation change. Intermodel singular value decomposition (SVD) analyses further show a tight coupling between the intermodel variations in SST warming pattern and circulation change in the tropics. In the zonal mean, the first SVD mode features an anomalous interhemispheric Hadley circulation, while the second mode displays an SST peak near the equator. The asymmetric mode is accompanied by a coupled pattern of wind-evaporation-SST feedback in the tropics and is further tied to interhemispheric asymmetric change in extratropical shortwave radiative flux at the top of the atmosphere. Intermodel variability in the tropical circulation change exerts a strong control on the spread in tropical cloud cover change and cloud radiative effects among models. The results indicate that understanding the coupling between the anthropogenic changes in SST pattern and atmospheric circulation holds the key to reducing uncertainties in projections of future changes in tropical rainfall and clouds.

Kamae, Y, Ogura T, Watanabe M, Xie SP, Ueda H.  2016.  Robust cloud feedback over tropical land in a warming climate. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 121:2593-2609.   10.1002/2015jd024525   AbstractWebsite

Cloud-related radiative perturbations over land in a warming climate are of importance for human health, ecosystem, agriculture, and industry via solar radiation availability and local warming amplification. However, robustness and physical mechanisms responsible for the land cloud feedback were not examined sufficiently because of the limited contribution to uncertainty in global climate sensitivity. Here we show that cloud feedback in general circulation models over tropical land is robust, positive, and is relevant to atmospheric circulation change and thermodynamic constraint associated with water vapor availability. In a warming climate, spatial variations in tropospheric warming associated with climatological circulation pattern result in a general weakening of tropical circulation and a dynamic reduction of land cloud during summer monsoon season. Limited increase in availability of water vapor also reduces the land cloud. The reduction of land cloud depends on global-scale oceanic warming and is not sensitive to regional warming patterns. The robust positive feedback can contribute to the warming amplification and drying over tropical land in the future.