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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.

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.

Chikamoto, Y, Timmermann A, Luo JJ, Mochizuki T, Kimoto M, Watanabe M, Ishii M, Xie SP, Jin FF.  2015.  Skilful multi-year predictions of tropical trans-basin climate variability. Nature Communications. 6   10.1038/ncomms7869   AbstractWebsite

Tropical Pacific sea surface temperature anomalies influence the atmospheric circulation, impacting climate far beyond the tropics. The predictability of the corresponding atmospheric signals is typically limited to less than 1 year lead time. Here we present observational and modelling evidence for multi-year predictability of coherent trans-basin climate variations that are characterized by a zonal seesaw in tropical sea surface temperature and sea-level pressure between the Pacific and the other two ocean basins. State-of-the-art climate model forecasts initialized from a realistic ocean state show that the low-frequency trans-basin climate variability, which explains part of the El Nino Southern Oscillation flavours, can be predicted up to 3 years ahead, thus exceeding the predictive skill of current tropical climate forecasts for natural variability. This low-frequency variability emerges from the synchronization of ocean anomalies in all basins via global reorganizations of the atmospheric Walker Circulation.

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.

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Du, Y, Xie SP, Yang YL, Zheng XT, Liu L, Huang G.  2013.  Indian Ocean Variability in the CMIP5 Multimodel Ensemble: The Basin Mode. Journal of Climate. 26:7240-7266.   10.1175/jcli-d-12-00678.1   AbstractWebsite

This study evaluates the simulation of the Indian Ocean Basin (IOB) mode and relevant physical processes in models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Historical runs from 20 CMIP5 models are available for the analysis. They reproduce the IOB mode and its close relationship to El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Half of the models capture key IOB processes: a downwelling oceanic Rossby wave in the southern tropical Indian Ocean (TIO) precedes the IOB development in boreal fall and triggers an antisymmetric wind anomaly pattern across the equator in the following spring. The anomalous wind pattern induces a second warming in the north Indian Ocean (NIO) through summer and sustains anticyclonic wind anomalies in the northwest Pacific by radiating a warm tropospheric Kelvin wave. The second warming in the NIO is indicative of ocean-atmosphere interaction in the interior TIO. More than half of the models display a double peak in NIO warming, as observed following El Nino, while the rest show only one winter peak. The intermodel diversity in the characteristics of the IOB mode seems related to the thermocline adjustment in the south TIO to ENSO-induced wind variations. Almost all the models show multidecadal variations in IOB variance, possibly modulated by ENSO.

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Feng, M, McPhaden MJ, Xie SP, Hafner J.  2013.  La Nina forces unprecedented Leeuwin Current warming in 2011. Scientific Reports. 3   10.1038/srep01277   AbstractWebsite

Unprecedented warm sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies were observed off the west coast of Australia in February-March 2011. Peak SST during a 2-week period were 5 degrees C warmer than normal, causing widespread coral bleaching and fish kills. Understanding the climatic drivers of this extreme event, which we dub "Ningaloo Nino", is crucial for predicting similar events under the influence of global warming. Here we use observational data and numerical models to demonstrate that the extreme warming was mostly driven by an unseasonable surge of the poleward-flowing Leeuwin Current in austral summer, which transported anomalously warm water southward along the coast. The unusual intensification of the Leeuwin Current was forced remotely by oceanic and atmospheric teleconnections associated with the extraordinary 2010-2011 La Nina. The amplitude of the warming was boosted by both multi-decadal trends in the Pacific toward more La Nina-like conditions and intraseasonal variations in the Indian Ocean.

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Hu, KM, Huang G, Zheng XT, Xie SP, Qu X, Du Y, Liu L.  2014.  Interdecadal variations in ENSO influences on Northwest Pacific-East Asian early summertime climate simulated in CMIP5 models. Journal of Climate. 27:5982-5998.   10.1175/jcli-d-13-00268.1   AbstractWebsite

The present study investigates interdecadal modulations of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) influence on the climate of the northwest Pacific (NWP) and East Asia (EA) in early boreal summer following a winter ENSO event, based on 19 simulations from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). In the historical run, 8 out of 19 models capture a realistic relationship between ENSO and NWP early summer climate-an anomalous anticyclone develops over the NWP following a winter El Nino event- and the interdecadal modulations of this correlation. During periods when the association between ENSO and NWP early summer climate is strong, ENSO variance and ENSO-induced anomalies of summer sea surface temperature (SST) and tropospheric temperature over the tropical Indian Ocean (TIO) all strengthen relative to periods when the association is weak. In future projections with representative concentration pathways 4.5 and 8.5, the response of TIO SST, tropospheric temperature, and NWP anomalous anticyclone to ENSO all strengthen regardless of ENSO amplitude change. In a warmer climate, low-level specific humidity response to interannual SST variability strengthens following the Clausius-Clapeyron equation. The resultant intensification of tropospheric temperature response to interannual TIO warming is suggested as the mechanism for the strengthened ENSO effect on NWP-EA summer climate.

Huang, P, Xie SP, Hu KM, Huang G, Huang RH.  2013.  Patterns of the seasonal response of tropical rainfall to global warming. Nature Geoscience. 6:357-361.   10.1038/ngeo1792   AbstractWebsite

Tropical convection is an important factor in regional climate variability and change around the globe(1,2). The response of regional precipitation to global warming is spatially variable, and state-of-the-art model projections suffer large uncertainties in the geographic distribution of precipitation changes(3-5). Two views exist regarding tropical rainfall change: one predicts increased rainfall in presently rainy regions (wet-get-wetter)(6-8), and the other suggests increased rainfall where the rise in sea surface temperature exceeds the mean surface warming in the tropics (warmer-get-wetter)(9-12). Here we analyse simulations with 18 models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), and present a unifying view for seasonal rainfall change. We find that the pattern of ocean warming induces ascending atmospheric flow at the Equator and subsidence on the flanks, anchoring a band of annual mean rainfall increase near the Equator that reflects the warmer-get-wetter view. However, this climatological ascending motion marches back and forth across the Equator with the Sun, pumping moisture upwards from the boundary layer and causing seasonal rainfall anomalies to follow a wet-get-wetter pattern. The seasonal mean rainfall, which is the sum of the annual mean and seasonal anomalies, thus combines the wet-get-wetter and warmer-get-wetter trends. Given that precipitation climatology is well observed whereas the pattern of ocean surface warming is poorly constrained(13,14), our results suggest that projections of tropical seasonal mean rainfall are more reliable than the annual mean.

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Kamae, Y, Mei W, Xie SP, Naoi M, Ueda H.  2017.  Atmospheric Rivers over the Northwestern Pacific: Climatology and Interannual Variability. Journal of Climate. 30:5605-5619.   10.1175/jcli-d-16-0875.1   AbstractWebsite

Atmospheric rivers (ARs), conduits of intense water vapor transport in the midlatitudes, are critically important for water resources and heavy rainfall events over the west coast of North America, Europe, and Africa. ARs are also frequently observed over the northwestern Pacific (NWP) during boreal summer but have not been studied comprehensively. Here the climatology, seasonal variation, interannual variability, and predictability of NWPARs (NWPARs) are examined by using a large ensemble, high-resolution atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) simulation and a global atmospheric reanalysis. The AGCM captures general characteristics of climatology and variability compared to the reanalysis, suggesting a strong sea surface temperature (SST) effect on NWPARs. The summertime NWPAR occurrences are tightly related to El Ni (n) over tildeo-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the preceding winter through Indo-western Pacific Ocean capacitor (IPOC) effects. An enhanced East Asian summer monsoon and a low-level anticyclonic anomaly over the tropical western North Pacific in the post-El Ni (n) over tildeo summer reinforce low-level water vapor transport from the tropics with increased occurrence of NWPARs. The strong coupling with ENSO and IPOC indicates a high predictability of anomalous summertime NWPAR activity.

Kosaka, Y, Xie SP, Lau NC, Vecchi GA.  2013.  Origin of seasonal predictability for summer climate over the Northwestern Pacific. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 110:7574-7579.   10.1073/pnas.1215582110   AbstractWebsite

Summer climate in the Northwestern Pacific (NWP) displays large year-to-year variability, affecting densely populated Southeast and East Asia by impacting precipitation, temperature, and tropical cyclones. The Pacific-Japan (PJ) teleconnection pattern provides a crucial link of high predictability from the tropics to East Asia. Using coupled climate model experiments, we show that the PJ pattern is the atmospheric manifestation of an air-sea coupled mode spanning the Indo-NWP warm pool. The PJ pattern forces the Indian Ocean (IO) via a westward propagating atmospheric Rossby wave. In response, IO sea surface temperature feeds back and reinforces the PJ pattern via a tropospheric Kelvin wave. Ocean coupling increases both the amplitude and temporal persistence of the PJ pattern. Cross-correlation of ocean-atmospheric anomalies confirms the coupled nature of this PJIO mode. The ocean-atmosphere feedback explains why the last echoes of El Nino-Southern Oscillation are found in the IO-NWP in the form of the PJIO mode. We demonstrate that the PJIO mode is indeed highly predictable; a characteristic that can enable benefits to society.

Kubota, H, Kosaka Y, Xie SP.  2016.  A 117-year long index of the Pacific-Japan pattern with application to interdecadal variability. International Journal of Climatology. 36:1575-1589.   10.1002/joc.4441   AbstractWebsite

The Pacific-Japan (PJ) pattern affects interannual variability in the East Asian and western North Pacific (WNP) summer monsoons. This teleconnection pattern is characterized by a meridional dipole of anomalous circulation and precipitation between the tropical WNP and the midlatitudes. This study develops a long index of the PJ pattern using station-based atmospheric pressure data to track the PJ variability from 1897 to 2013. This index is correlated with a wide array of climate variables including air temperature, precipitation, Yangtze River flow, Japanese rice yield and the occurrence of tropical cyclones over the WNP (especially those that make landfall on the Chinese and Korean coast). For the recent three decades, the PJ index reproduces well-known correlations with El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the preceding boreal winter and Indian Ocean temperature in the concurrent summer. For the 117-year period, this ENSO-PJ relationship varies on interdecadal time scales, with low correlations in the 1920s and from the 1940s to 1970s, and recurrences of significant correlations at the beginning of the 20th century and the 1930s. In accordance with the modulation, the magnitude and regional climate effect of the PJ variability have changed. These results highlight the importance of interdecadal modulations of climate anomalies in the summer WNP and the need of long-term observations to study such modulations.

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Li, XC, Xie SP, Gille ST, Yoo C.  2016.  Atlantic-induced pan-tropical climate change over the past three decades. Nature Climate Change. 6:275-+.   10.1038/nclimate2840   AbstractWebsite

During the past three decades, tropical sea surface temperature (SST) has shown dipole-like trends, with warming over the tropical Atlantic and Indo-western Pacific but cooling over the eastern Pacific. Competing hypotheses relate this cooling, identified as a driver of the global warming hiatus(1,2), to the warming trends in either the Atlantic(3,4) or Indian Ocean(5). However, the mechanisms, the relative importance and the interactions between these teleconnections remain unclear. Using a state-of-the-art climate model, we show that the Atlantic plays a key role in initiating the tropical-wide teleconnection, and the Atlantic-induced anomalies contribute similar to 55-75% of the tropical SST and circulation changes during the satellite era. The Atlantic warming drives easterly wind anomalies over the Indo-western Pacific as Kelvin waves and westerly anomalies over the eastern Pacific as Rossby waves. The wind changes induce an Indo-western Pacific warming through the wind-evaporation-SST effect(6,7), and this warming intensifies the La Nina-type response in the tropical Pacific by enhancing the easterly trade winds and through the Bjerknes ocean dynamical processes(8). The teleconnection develops into a tropical-wide SST dipole pattern. This mechanism, supported by observations and a hierarchy of climate models, reveals that the tropical ocean basins are more tightly connected than previously thought.

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.

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.

Li, G, Xie SP, Du Y.  2015.  Climate model errors over the South Indian Ocean thermocline dome and their effect on the basin mode of interannual variability. Journal of Climate. 28:3093-3098.   10.1175/jcli-d-14-00810.1   AbstractWebsite

An open-ocean thermocline dome south of the equator is a striking feature of the Indian Ocean (IO) as a result of equatorial westerly winds. Over the thermocline dome, the El Nino-forced Rossby waves help sustain the IO basin (IOB) mode and offer climate predictability for the IO and surrounding countries. This study shows that a common equatorial easterly wind bias, by forcing a westward-propagating downwelling Rossby wave in the southern IO, induces too deep a thermocline dome over the southwestern IO (SWIO) in state-of-the-art climate models. Such a deep SWIO thermocline weakens the influence of subsurface variability on sea surface temperature (SST), reducing the IOB amplitude and possibly limiting the models' skill of regional climate prediction. To the extent that the equatorial easterly wind bias originates from errors of the South Asian summer monsoon, improving the monsoon simulation can lead to substantial improvements in simulating and predicting interannual variability in the IO.

Li, G, Xie SP, Du Y.  2016.  A robust but spurious pattern of climate change in model projections over the tropical Indian Ocean. Journal of Climate. 29:5589-5608.   10.1175/jcli-d-15-0565.1   AbstractWebsite

Climate models consistently project reduced surface warming over the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean (IO) under increased greenhouse gas (GHG) forcing. This IO dipole (IOD)-like warming pattern, regarded as robust based on consistency among models by the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, results in a large increase in the frequency of extreme positive IOD (pIOD) events, elevating the risk of climate and weather disasters in the future over IO rim countries. These projections, however, do not consider large model biases in both the mean state and interannual IOD variance. In particular, a "present-future relationship" is identified between the historical simulations and representative concentration pathway (RCP) 8.5 experiments from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) multimodel ensemble: models with an excessive IOD amplitude bias tend to project a strong IOD-like warming pattern in themean and a large increase in extreme pIOD occurrences under increased GHG forcing. This relationship links the present simulation errors to future climate projections, and is also consistent with our understanding of Bjerknes ocean-atmosphere feedback. This study calibrates regional climate projections by using this present-future relationship and observed IOD amplitude. The results show that the projected IOD-like pattern of mean changes and frequency increase of extreme pIOD events are largely artifacts of model errors and unlikely to emerge in the future. These results illustrate that a robust projection may still be biased and it is important to consider the model bias effect.

Li, G, Xie SP, Du Y.  2015.  Monsoon-induced biases of climate models over the tropical Indian Ocean. Journal of Climate. 28:3058-3072.   10.1175/jcli-d-14-00740.1   AbstractWebsite

Long-standing biases of climate models limit the skills of climate prediction and projection. Overlooked are tropical Indian Ocean (IO) errors. Based on the phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) multimodel ensemble, the present study identifies a common error pattern in climate models that resembles the IO dipole (IOD) mode of interannual variability in nature, with a strong equatorial easterly wind bias during boreal autumn accompanied by physically consistent biases in precipitation, sea surface temperature (SST), and subsurface ocean temperature. The analyses show that such IOD-like biases can be traced back to errors in the South Asian summer monsoon. A southwest summer monsoon that is too weak over the Arabian Sea generates a warm SST bias over the western equatorial IO. In boreal autumn, Bjerknes feedback helps amplify the error into an IOD-like bias pattern in wind, precipitation, SST, and subsurface ocean temperature. Such mean state biases result in an interannual IOD variability that is too strong. Most models project an IOD-like future change for the boreal autumn mean state in the global warming scenario, which would result in more frequent occurrences of extreme positive IOD events in the future with important consequences to Indonesia and East Africa. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) characterizes this future IOD-like projection in the mean state as robust based on consistency among models, but the authors' results cast doubts on this conclusion since models with larger IOD amplitude biases tend to produce stronger IOD-like projected changes in the future.

Liu, W, Lu J, Xie SP.  2015.  Understanding the Indian Ocean response to double CO2 forcing in a coupled model. Ocean Dynamics. 65:1037-1046.   10.1007/s10236-015-0854-6   AbstractWebsite

This study investigates the roles of multiple ocean-atmospheric feedbacks in the oceanic response to increased carbon dioxide by applying an overriding technique to a coupled climate model. The annual-mean sea surface temperature (SST) response in the Indian Ocean exhibits a zonal-dipolar warming pattern, with a reduced warming in the eastern and enhanced warming in the western tropical Indian Ocean (TIO), reminiscent of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) pattern. The development of the dipole pattern exhibits a pronounced seasonal evolution. The overriding experiments show that the wind-evaporation-sea surface temperature (WES) feedback accounts for most of the enhanced warming in the western and central TIO during May-July with reduced southerly monsoonal wind and contributes partially to the reduced warming in the eastern TIO during June-September. The Bjerknes feedback explains most of the reduced warming in the eastern TIO during August-October, accompanied by a reduction of precipitation, easterly wind anomalies, and a thermocline shoaling along the equator. Both feedbacks facilitate the formation of the dipolar warming pattern in the TIO. The residual from the Bjerknes and WES feedbacks is attributable to the "static" response to increasing CO2. While the static SST response also contributes to the seasonal SST variations, the static precipitation response is relatively uniform in the TIO, appearing as a general increase of precipitation along the equatorial Indian Ocean during June-September.

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Ma, J, Xie SP, Xu HM.  2017.  Contributions of the North Pacific Meridional Mode to Ensemble Spread of ENSO Prediction. Journal of Climate. 30:9167-9181.   10.1175/jcli-d-17-0182.1   AbstractWebsite

Seasonal prediction of El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) employs the ensemble method, which samples the uncertainty in initial conditions. While much attention has been given to the ensemble mean, the ensemble spread limits the reliability of the forecast. Spatiotemporal coevolution of intermember anomalies of sea surface temperature (SST) and low-level winds over the Pacific is examined in ensemble hindcasts. Two types of evolution of intermember SST anomalies in the equatorial Pacific are identified. The first features an apparent southwestward propagation of the SST spread from the subtropical northeastern Pacific southeast of Hawaii to the central equatorial Pacific in boreal winter-spring, indicative of the precursor effect of the North Pacific meridional mode (NPMM) on ENSO variability. Extratropical atmospheric variability generates ensemble spread in ENSO through wind-evaporation-SST (WES) in the subtropical northeastern Pacific and then Bjerknes feedback on the equator. In the second type, ensemble spread grows in the equatorial Pacific with a weak contribution from the subtropical southeastern Pacific in summer. Thus, the extratropical influence on ENSO evolution is much stronger in the Northern Hemisphere than in the Southern Hemisphere. The growth of Nino-4 SST ensemble spread shows a strong seasonality. In hindcasts initialized in September-March, the Nino-4 SST spread grows rapidly in January-April, stabilizes in May-June, and grows again in July-September. The rapid growth of the Nino-4 SST spread in January-April is due to the arrival of NPMM, while the slowdown in May-June and rapid growth in July-September are attributable primarily to the seasonality of equatorial ocean-atmosphere interaction. NPMM contributes to the ensemble spread in equatorial Pacific SST, limiting the reliability of ENSO prediction.

Ma, J, Xie SP, Xu HM.  2017.  Intermember variability of the summer northwest Pacific subtropical anticyclone in the ensemble forecast. Journal of Climate. 30:3927-3941.   10.1175/jcli-d-16-0638.1   AbstractWebsite

The accurate prediction of the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) remains a major challenge for the climate research community. The northwest Pacific (NWP) subtropical anticyclone (NWPSA) is the dominant feature of the EASM low-level circulation variability. This study identifies two coupled modes between intermember anomalies of the NWPSA and sea surface temperature (SST). The first mode features SST anomalies over the tropical Pacific. This tropical Pacific mode has little impact on East Asian climate. The second mode features a strong coupling between SST in the north Indian Ocean (NIO)-NWP and NWPSA, with large impacts on East Asia. This resembles the Indo-western Pacific Ocean capacitor (IPOC) mode of interannual variability. Major differences exist in temporal evolution of the intermember SST spread between the equatorial Pacific and NIO. In the equatorial Pacific, the intermember SST spread grows gradually with lead time, while the spread of SST and low-level zonal wind grow rapidly from May to June in the NIO. The rapid growth over the NIO is due to positive feedback arising from the coupling between intermember anomalies of SST and winds. In post-El Nino summer, the intermember spread in equatorial Pacific SST forecast represents the variations in the timing of the El Nino phase transition. The late decay of El Nino relates to SST cooling and an anomalous cyclonic circulation over the South China Sea (SCS) but with little impact on East Asian climate. Thus, a better representation of the IPOC mode of regional ocean-atmosphere interaction over the NIO-NWP holds the key to improving the reliability of seasonal forecast of East Asian climate.

Maloney, ED, Xie SP.  2013.  Sensitivity of tropical intraseasonal variability to the pattern of climate warming. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems. 5:32-47.   10.1029/2012ms000171   AbstractWebsite

An aquaplanet general circulation model is used to assess the sensitivity of intraseasonal variability to the pattern of sea surface temperature (SST) warming. Three warming patterns are used. Projected SST warming at the end of the 21st century from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Climate Model 2.1 is one pattern, and zonally symmetric and globally uniform versions of this warming perturbation that have the same global mean SST change are the other two. Changes in intraseasonal variability are sensitive to the pattern of SST warming, with significant decreases in Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO)-timescale precipitation and wind variability for a zonally symmetric warming, and significant increases in MJO precipitation amplitude for a globally uniform warming. The amplitude of the wind variability change does not scale directly with precipitation, but is instead mediated by increased tropical dry static stability associated with SST warming. The patterned SST simulations have a zonal mean SST warming that maximizes on the equator, which fosters increased equatorial boundary layer convergence and also increases equatorial SST relative to the rest of the tropics. Both factors support increased convection, reflected in reduced gross moist stability (GMS). Mean precipitation is decreased and GMS is increased in the off-equatorial Eastern Hemisphere near 10 degrees S in the patterned warming simulations, where the strongest MJO-related intraseasonal precipitation variability is preferred in both the model and observations. It is argued that future changes in MJO activity may be sensitive to the pattern of SST warming, although these results should not be interpreted as a prediction of how MJO activity will change in future climate.

Mei, W, Xie SP, Zhao M, Wang YQ.  2015.  Forced and internal vriability of tropical cyclone track density in the Western North Pacific. Journal of Climate. 28:143-167.   10.1175/jcli-d-14-00164.1   AbstractWebsite

Forced interannual-to-decadal variability of annual tropical cyclone (TC) track density in the western North Pacific between 1979 and 2008 is studied using TC tracks from observations and simulations by a 25-km-resolution version of the GFDL High-Resolution Atmospheric Model (HiRAM) that is forced by observed sea surface temperatures (SSTs). Two modes dominate the decadal variability: a nearly basinwide mode, and a dipole mode between the subtropics and lower latitudes. The former mode links to variations in TC number and is forced by SST variations over the off-equatorial tropical central North Pacific, whereas the latter might be associated with the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation. The interannual variability is also controlled by two modes: a basinwide mode driven by SST anomalies of opposite signs located in the tropical central Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean, and a southeast-northwest dipole mode connected to the conventional eastern Pacific ENSO. The seasonal evolution of the ENSO effect on TC activity is further explored via a joint empirical orthogonal function analysis using TC track density of consecutive seasons, and the analysis reveals that two types of ENSO are at work. Internal variability in TC track density is then examined using ensemble simulations from both HiRAM and a regional atmospheric model. It exhibits prominent spatial and seasonal patterns, and it is particularly strong in the South China Sea and along the coast of East Asia. This makes an accurate prediction and projection of TC landfall extremely challenging in these regions. In contrast, basin-integrated metrics (e.g., total TC counts and TC days) are more predictable.

Mei, W, Kamae Y, Xie SP, Yoshida K.  2019.  Variability and predictability of North Atlantic hurricane frequency in a large ensemble of high-resolution atmospheric simulations. Journal of Climate. 32:3153-3167.   10.1175/jcli-d-18-0554.1   AbstractWebsite

Variability of North Atlantic annual hurricane frequency during 1951-2010 is studied using a 100-member ensemble of climate simulations by a 60-km atmospheric general circulation model that is forced by observed sea surface temperatures (SSTs). The ensemble mean results well capture the interannual-to-decadal variability of hurricane frequency in best track data since 1970, and suggest that the current best track data might underestimate hurricane frequency prior to 1966 when satellite measurements were unavailable. A genesis potential index (GPI) averaged over the main development region (MDR) accounts for more than 80% of the SST-forced variations in hurricane frequency, with potential intensity and vertical wind shear being the dominant factors. In line with previous studies, the difference between MDR SST and tropical mean SST is a useful predictor; a 1 degrees C increase in this SST difference produces 7.05 +/- 1.39 more hurricanes. The hurricane frequency also exhibits strong internal variability that is systematically larger in the model than observations. The seasonal-mean environment is highly correlated among ensemble members and contributes to less than 10% of the ensemble spread in hurricane frequency. The strong internal variability is suggested to originate from weather to intraseasonal variability and nonlinearity. In practice, a 20-member ensemble is sufficient to capture the SST-forced variability.

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.

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Richter, I, Xie SP, Morioka Y, Doi T, Taguchi B, Behera S.  2017.  Phase locking of equatorial Atlantic variability through the seasonal migration of the ITCZ. Climate Dynamics. 48:3615-3629.   10.1007/s00382-016-3289-y   AbstractWebsite

The equatorial Atlantic is marked by significant interannual variability in sea-surface temperature (SST) that is phase-locked to late boreal spring and early summer. The role of the atmosphere in this phase locking is examined using observations, reanalysis data, and model output. The results show that equatorial zonal surface wind anomalies, which are a main driver of warm and cold events, typically start decreasing in June, despite SST and sea-level pressure gradient anomalies being at their peak during this month. This behavior is explained by the seasonal northward migration of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) in early summer. The north-equatorial position of the Atlantic ITCZ contributes to the decay of wind anomalies in three ways: (1) horizontal advection associated with the cross-equatorial winds transports air masses of comparatively low zonal momentum anomalies from the southeast toward the equator. (2) The absence of deep convection leads to changes in vertical momentum transport that reduce the equatorial wind anomalies at the surface, while anomalies aloft remain relatively strong. (3) The cross-equatorial flow is associated with increased total wind speed, which increases surface drag and deposit of momentum into the ocean. Previous studies have shown that convection enhances the surface wind response to SST anomalies. The present study indicates that convection also amplifies the surface zonal wind response to sea-level pressure gradients in the western equatorial Atlantic, where SST anomalies are small. This introduces a new element into coupled air-sea interaction of the tropical Atlantic.