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Eddebbar, YA, Rodgers KB, Long MC, Subramanian AC, Xie SP, Keeling RF.  2019.  El Nino-like physical and biogeochemical ocean response to tropical eruptions. Journal of Climate. 32:2627-2649.   10.1175/jcli-d-18-0458.1   AbstractWebsite

The oceanic response to recent tropical eruptions is examined in Large Ensemble (LE) experiments from two fully coupled global climate models, the Community Earth System Model (CESM) and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Earth System Model (ESM2M), each forced by a distinct volcanic forcing dataset. Following the simulated eruptions of Agung, El Chichon, and Pinatubo, the ocean loses heat and gains oxygen and carbon, in general agreement with available observations. In both models, substantial global surface cooling is accompanied by El Nino-like equatorial Pacific surface warming a year after the volcanic forcing peaks. A mechanistic analysis of the CESM and ESM2M responses to Pinatubo identifies remote wind forcing from the western Pacific as a major driver of this El Nino-like response. Following eruption, faster cooling over the Maritime Continent than adjacent oceans suppresses convection and leads to persistent westerly wind anomalies over the western tropical Pacific. These wind anomalies excite equatorial downwelling Kelvin waves and the upwelling of warm subsurface anomalies in the eastern Pacific, promoting the development of El Nino conditions through Bjerknes feedbacks a year after eruption. This El Nino-like response drives further ocean heat loss through enhanced equatorial cloud albedo, and dominates global carbon uptake as upwelling of carbon-rich waters is suppressed in the tropical Pacific. Oxygen uptake occurs primarily at high latitudes, where surface cooling intensifies the ventilation of subtropical thermocline waters. These volcanically forced ocean responses are large enough to contribute to the observed decadal variability in oceanic heat, carbon, and oxygen.

Li, G, Xie SP, He C, Chen ZS.  2017.  Western Pacific emergent constraint lowers projected increase in Indian summer monsoon rainfall. Nature Climate Change. 7:708-+.   10.1038/nclimate3387   AbstractWebsite

The agrarian-based socioeconomic livelihood of densely populated South Asian countries is vulnerable to modest changes in Indian summer monsoon (ISM) rainfall(1-3). How the ISM rainfall will evolve is a question of broad scientific and socioeconomic importance(3-9). In response to increased greenhouse gas (GHG) forcing, climate models commonly project an increase in ISM rainfall(4-9). This wetter ISM projection, however, does not consider large model errors in both the mean state and ocean warming pattern(9-11). Here we identify a relationship between biases in simulated present climate and future ISM projections in a multi-model ensemble: models with excessive present-day precipitation over the tropical western Pacific tend to project a larger increase in ISM rainfall under GHG forcing because of too strong a negative cloud-radiation feedback on sea surface temperature. The excessive negative feedback suppresses the local ocean surface warming, strengthening ISM rainfall projections via atmospheric circulation. We calibrate the ISM rainfall projections using this 'present-future relationship' and observed western Pacific precipitation. The correction reduces by about 50% of the projected rainfall increase over the broad ISM region. Our study identifies an improved simulation of western Pacific convection as a priority for reliable ISM projections.

Liu, C, Xie SP, Li PL, Xu LX, Gao WD.  2017.  Climatology and decadal variations in multicore structure of the North Pacific subtropical mode water. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 122:7506-7520.   10.1002/2017jc013071   AbstractWebsite

The pycnostad of the North Pacific subtropical mode water (STMW) often displays multiple vertical minima in the potential vorticity profile. Argo profile data from 2004 to 2015 are used to investigate interannual to decadal variations of the multicore structure. Climatologically, about 24% pycostads of STMW have multicore structure, and most of them distribute in the region west of 150 degrees E. STMW cores are classified into three submodes-the cold, middle, and warm ones with potential temperatures of 16.0-17 degrees C, 17-18 degrees C, and 18-19.5 degrees C, respectively. The Kuroshio Extension (KE) varies between stable and unstable states. The unstable KE with large meanders increases the subsurface stratification and shoals the winter mixed layer east of 150 degrees E with warmer temperatures. There, the dominant STMW type varies from the cold single type in stable KE years (making up 72% of the profiles with STMW) to the middle single one (53%) in unstable years. The variation of the dominant STMW type in the region east of 150 degrees E subsequently affects the multicore structure of STMW west of 150 degrees E. In a broad region between 130 degrees E and 180 degrees E, profiles with STMW are fewer in unstable years but the proportion of multicore profiles increases among STMW profiles. This might be due to the split recirculation gyre with a chaotic KE.

Yang, Y, Xie SP, Wu LX, Kosaka Y, Li JP.  2017.  Causes of enhanced sst variability over the equatorial atlantic and its relationship to the Atlantic Zonal Mode in CMIP5. Journal of Climate. 30:6171-6182.   10.1175/jcli-d-16-0866.1   AbstractWebsite

A spurious band of enhanced sea surface temperature (SST) variance (SBEV) is identified over the northern equatorial Atlantic in the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) Climate Model, version 2.1. The SBEV is especially pronounced in boreal spring owing to the combined effect of both anomalous atmospheric thermal forcing and oceanic vertical upwelling. The SBEV is a common bias in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), found in 14 out of 23 models. The SBEV in CMIP5 is associated with the atmospheric thermal forcing and the oceanic vertical upwelling, similar to GFDL CM2.1. While the tropical North Atlantic variability is only weakly correlated with the Atlantic zonal mode (AZM) in observations, the SBEV in CMIP5 produces conditions that drive and intensify the AZM variability via triggering the Bjerknes feedback. This partially explains why AZM is strong in some CMIP5 models even though the equatorial cold tongue and easterly trades are biased low.

Zhou, WY, Xie SP.  2017.  Intermodel spread around the Kuroshio-Oyashio Extension region in coupled GCMs caused by meridional variation of the westerly jet from atmospheric GCMs. Journal of Climate. 30:4589-4599.   10.1175/jcli-d-16-0831.1   AbstractWebsite

The Kuroshio-Oyashio Extension (KOE) is a region of energetic oceanic mesoscale eddies and vigorous air-sea interaction that can influence climate variability over the northwest Pacific and East Asia. General circulation models (GCMs) exhibit considerable differences in their simulated climatology around the KOE region. Specifically, there are substantial intermodel spreads in both sea surface temperature (SST) and the upper-level westerly jet. In this study, the cause for such large spreads is studied by analyzing 21 pairs of coupled and atmospheric GCMs from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). It is found that the intermodel spread of the climatological westerly jet among coupled GCMs is largely inherited from their atmospheric models rather than being due to their SST difference as previously thought. An anomalous equatorward shift in the simulated westerly jet can give rise to a cold SST bias around the KOE region as follows. The equatorward jet shift induces cyclonic surface wind anomalies over the North Pacific, which not only enhance the turbulent heat fluxes out of the ocean south of the KOE but also drive an anomalous cyclonic ocean circulation that brings colder (warmer) water into the north (south) of the KOE. The KOE region is consequently cooled due to both the atmospheric and oceanic effects. Such processes are demonstrated through idealized perturbation experiments using an ocean model. The results herein point to reducing atmospheric model errors in the westerly jet as the way forward to improve the coupled simulations around the KOE region.

Li, G, Xie SP, Du Y, Luo YY.  2016.  Effects of excessive equatorial cold tongue bias on the projections of tropical Pacific climate change. Part I: the warming pattern in CMIP5 multi-model ensemble. Climate Dynamics. 47:3817-3831.   10.1007/s00382-016-3043-5   AbstractWebsite

The excessive cold tongue error in the equatorial Pacific has persisted in several generations of climate models. Based on the historical simulations and Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 experiments in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) multi-model ensemble (MME), this study finds that models with an excessive westward extension of cold tongue and insufficient equatorial western Pacific precipitation tend to project a weaker east-minus-west gradient of sea surface temperature (SST) warming along the equatorial Pacific under increased greenhouse gas (GHG) forcing. This La Nia-like error of tropical Pacific SST warming is consistent with our understanding of negative SST-convective feedback over the western Pacific warm pool. Based on this relationship between the present simulations and future projections, the present study applies an "observational constraint" of equatorial western Pacific precipitation to calibrate the projections of tropical Pacific climate change. After the corrections, CMIP5 models robustly project an El Nio-like warming pattern, with a MME mean increase by a factor of 2.3 in east-minus-west gradient of equatorial Pacific SST warming and reduced inter-model uncertainty. Corrections in projected changes in tropical precipitation and atmospheric circulation are physically consistent. This study suggests that a realistic cold tongue simulation would lead to a more reliable tropical Pacific climate projection.

Lintner, BR, Langenbrunner B, Neelin JD, Anderson BT, Niznik MJ, Li G, Xie SP.  2016.  Characterizing CMIP5 model spread in simulated rainfall in the Pacific Intertropical Convergence and South Pacific Convergence Zones. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 121:11590-11607.   10.1002/2016jd025284   AbstractWebsite

Current-generation climate models exhibit various errors or biases in both the spatial distribution and intensity of precipitation relative to observations. In this study, empirical orthogonal function analysis is applied to the space-model index domain of precipitation over the Pacific from Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) simulations to explore systematic spread of simulated precipitation characteristics across the ensemble. Two significant modes of spread, generically termed principal uncertainty patterns (PUPs), are identified in the December-January-February precipitation climatology: the leading PUP is associated with the meridional width of deep convection, while the second is associated with tradeoffs in precipitation intensity along the South Pacific Convergence Zone, the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), and the spurious Southern Hemisphere ITCZ. An important factor distinguishing PUPs from the analogy to time series analysis is that the modes can reflect either true systematic intermodel variance patterns or internal variability. In order to establish that the PUPS reflect the former, three complementary tests are performed by using preindustrial control simulations: a bootstrap significance test for reproducibility of the intermodel spatial patterns, a check for robustness over very long climatological averages, and a test on the loadings of these patterns relative to interdecadal sampling. Composite analysis based on these PUPs demonstrates physically plausible relationships to CMIP5 ensemble spread in simulated sea surface temperatures (SSTs), circulation, and moisture. Further analysis of atmosphere-only, prescribed SST simulations demonstrates decreased spread in the spatial distribution of precipitation, while substantial spread in intensity remains. Key Points Systematic spread in CMIP5 simulation of Pacific region rainfall is investigated by using empirical mode reduction techniques Two significant modes of model spread are identified for the DJF rainfall climatology These modes are interpreted in terms of spread in simulated patterns of SST and circulation

Wang, H, Xie SP, Liu QY.  2016.  Comparison of climate response to anthropogenic aerosol versus greenhouse gas forcing: Distinct patterns. Journal of Climate. 29:5175-5188.   10.1175/jcli-d-16-0106.1   AbstractWebsite

Spatial patterns of climate response to changes in anthropogenic aerosols and well-mixed greenhouse gases ( GHGs) are investigated using climate model simulations for the twentieth century. The climate response shows both similarities and differences in spatial pattern between aerosol and GHG runs. Common climate response between aerosol and GHG runs tends to be symmetric about the equator. This work focuses on the distinctive patterns that are unique to the anthropogenic aerosol forcing. The tropospheric cooling induced by anthropogenic aerosols is locally enhanced in the midlatitude Northern Hemisphere with a deep vertical structure around 40 degrees N, anchoring a westerly acceleration in thermal wind balance. The aerosol-induced negative radiative forcing in the Northern Hemisphere requires a cross-equatorial Hadley circulation to compensate interhemispheric energy imbalance in the atmosphere. Associated with a southward shift of the intertropical convergence zone, this interhemispheric asymmetric mode is unique to aerosol forcing and absent in GHG runs. Comparison of key climate response pattern indices indicates that the aerosol forcing dominates the interhemispheric asymmetric climate response in historical all-forcing simulations, as well as regional precipitation change such as the drying trend over the East Asian monsoon region. While GHG forcing dominates global mean surface temperature change, its effect is on par with and often opposes the aerosol effect on precipitation, making it difficult to detect anthropogenic change in rainfall from historical observations.

Liu, JW, Xie SP, Yang S, Zhang SP.  2016.  Low-cloud transitions across the Kuroshio Front in the East China Sea. Journal of Climate. 29:4429-4443.   10.1175/jcli-d-15-0589.1   AbstractWebsite

The East China Sea Kuroshio (ECSK) flows in the East Asian monsoon region where the background atmospheric circulation varies significantly with season. A sea surface temperature (SST) front associated with the ECSK becomes narrower and sharper from winter to spring. The present study investigates how low clouds respond to the ECSK front in different seasons by synthesizing spaceborne lidar and surface visual observations. The results reveal prominent cross-frontal transitions in low clouds, which exhibit distinct behavior between winter and spring. In winter, cloud responses are generally confined below 4 km by the strong background descending motion and feature a gradual cloud-top elevation from the cold to the warm flank of the front. The ice clouds on the cold flank of the ECSK front transform into liquid water clouds and rain on the warm flank. The springtime clouds, by contrast, are characterized by a sharp cross-frontal transition with deep clouds reaching up to 7 km over the ECSK. In both winter and spring, the low-cloud morphology exhibits a large transformation from the cold to the warm flank of the ECSK front, including increases in cloud-top height, a decline in smoothness of cloud top, and the transition from stratiform to convective clouds. All this along with the atmospheric soundings indicates that the decoupling of the marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL) is more prevalent on the warm flank of the front. Thus, long-term observations reveal prominent cross-frontal low-cloud transitions in morphology associated with MABL decoupling that resemble a large-scale cloud-regime transition over the eastern subtropical Pacific.

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.

Gao, WD, Li PL, Xie SP, Xu LX, Liu C.  2016.  Multicore structure of the North Pacific subtropical mode water from enhanced Argo observations. Geophysical Research Letters. 43:1249-1255.   10.1002/2015gl067495   AbstractWebsite

Seventeen Argo profiling floats with enhanced vertical and temporal sampling were deployed in the Kuroshio recirculation gyre in the western North Pacific in late March 2014. The Subtropical Mode Water (STMW) observed in many profiles displays a multicore structure with more than one minima in potential vorticity (PV), corroborated by vertical covariations in apparent oxygen utilization (AOU). These cores are classified into four submodes according to density and AOU. The submode waters are typically 100m thick, in which PV varies by 1x10(-10)m(-1)s(-1) and AOU by 10 mu mole/kg. The STMW multicore structure is most frequently observed in spring, gradually taken over by single-core profiles into summer. The seasonal evolution is suggestive of vertical mixing, especially in STMW of lower density.

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.

Long, SM, Xie SP.  2015.  Intermodel variations in projected precipitation change over the North Atlantic: Sea surface temperature effect. Geophysical Research Letters. 42:4158-4165.   10.1002/2015gl063852   AbstractWebsite

Intermodel variations in future precipitation projection in the North Atlantic are studied using 23 state-of-art models from Phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. Model uncertainty in annual mean rainfall change is locally enhanced along the Gulf Stream. The moisture budget analysis reveals that much of the model uncertainty in rainfall change can be traced back to the discrepancies in surface evaporation change and transient eddy effect among models. Results of the intermodel Singular Value Decomposition (SVD) analysis show that intermodel variations in local sea surface temperature (SST) pattern exert a strong control over the spread of rainfall projection among models through the modulation of evaporation change. The first three SVD modes explain more than 60% of the intermodel variance of rainfall projection and show distinct SST patterns with mode water-induced banded structures, reduced subpolar warming due to ocean dynamical cooling, and the Gulf Stream shift, respectively.

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.

Liu, JW, Xie SP, Zhang SP.  2015.  Effects of the Hawaiian Islands on the vertical structure of low-level clouds from CALIPSO lidar. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 120:215-228.   10.1002/2014jd022410   AbstractWebsite

The steady northeast trade winds impinge on the Hawaiian Islands, producing prominent island wakes of multispatial scales from tens to thousands of kilometers. Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) reveal rich three-dimensional structures of low-level clouds that are induced by the islands, distinct from the background environment. The cloud frequency peaks between 1.5 and 2.0km in cloud top elevation over the windward slopes of the islands of Kauai and Oahu due to orographic lifting and daytime island heating. In the nighttime near-island wake of Kauai, CALIPSO captures a striking cloud hole below 1.6km as the cold advection from the island suppresses low-level clouds. The cyclonic eddy of the mechanical wake behind the island of Hawaii favors the formation of low-level clouds (below 2.5km), and the anticyclonic eddy suppresses the low-level cloud formation, indicative of the dynamical effect on the vertical structure of low-level clouds. In the long Hawaiian wake due to air-sea interaction, low-level clouds form over both the warmer and colder waters, but the cloud tops are 400-600m higher over the warm than the cold waters. In addition, the day-night differences and the sensitivity of low-level clouds to the background trade wind inversion height are also studied. Key Points

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.

Mei, W, Xie SP, Zhao M.  2014.  Variability of tropical cyclone track density in the North Atlantic: Observations and high-resolution simulations. Journal of Climate. 27:4797-4814.   10.1175/jcli-d-13-00587.1   AbstractWebsite

Interannual-decadal variability of tropical cyclone (TC) track density over the North Atlantic (NA) between 1979 and 2008 is studied using observations and simulations with a 25-km-resolution version of the High Resolution Atmospheric Model (HiRAM) forced by observed sea surface temperatures (SSTs). The variability on decadal and interannual time scales is examined separately. On both time scales, a basinwide mode dominates, with the time series being related to variations in seasonal TC counts. On decadal time scales, this mode relates to SST contrasts between the tropical NA and the tropical northeast Pacific as well as the tropical South Atlantic, whereas on interannual time scales it is controlled by SSTs over the central eastern equatorial Pacific and those over the tropical NA. The temporal evolution of the spatial distribution of track density is further investigated by normalizing the track density with seasonal TC counts. On decadal time scales, two modes emerge: one is an oscillation between track density over the U.S. East Coast and midlatitude ocean and that over the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea and the other oscillates between low and middle latitudes. They might be driven by the preceding winter North Atlantic Oscillation and concurrent Atlantic meridional mode, respectively. On interannual time scales, two similar modes are present in observations but are not well separated in HiRAM simulations. Finally, the internal variability and predictability of TC track density are explored and discussed using HiRAM ensemble simulations. The results suggest that basinwide total TC counts/days are much more predictable than local TC occurrence, posing a serious challenge to the prediction and projection of regional TC threats, especially the U.S. landfall hurricanes.

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.

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.

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.

Wang, LY, Liu QY, Xu LX, Xie SP.  2013.  Response of mode water and Subtropical Countercurrent to greenhouse gas and aerosol forcing in the North Pacific. Journal of Ocean University of China. 12:222-229.   10.1007/s11802-013-2193-x   AbstractWebsite

The response of the North Pacific Subtropical Mode Water and Subtropical Countercurrent (STCC) to changes in greenhouse gas (GHG) and aerosol is investigated based on the 20th-century historical and single-forcing simulations with the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Climate Model version 3 (GFDL CM3). The aerosol effect causes sea surface temperature (SST) to decrease in the mid-latitude North Pacific, especially in the Kuroshio Extension region, during the past five decades (1950-2005), and this cooling effect exceeds the warming effect by the GHG increase. The STCC response to the GHG and aerosol forcing are opposite. In the GHG (aerosol) forcing run, the STCC decelerates (accelerates) due to the decreased (increased) mode waters in the North Pacific, resulting from a weaker (stronger) front in the mixed layer depth and decreased (increased) subduction in the mode water formation region. The aerosol effect on the SST, mode waters and STCC more than offsets the GHG effect. The response of SST in a zonal band around 40A degrees N and the STCC to the combined forcing in the historical simulation is similar to the response to the aerosol forcing.

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.