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2013
Xie, SP.  2013.  Advancing climate dynamics toward reliable regional climate projections. Journal of Ocean University of China. 12:191-200.   10.1007/s11802-013-2277-7   AbstractWebsite

With a scientific consensus reached regarding the anthropogenic effect on global mean temperature, developing reliable regional climate projections has emerged as a new challenge for climate science. A national project was launched in China in 2012 to study ocean's role in regional climate change. This paper starts with a review of recent advances in the study of regional climate response to global warming, followed by a description of the Chinese project including the rationale, objectives, and plan for field observations. The 15 research articles that follow in the special issue are highlighted, representing some of the initial results from the project.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

2014
Zinke, J, Rountrey A, Feng M, Xie SP, Dissard D, Rankenburg K, Lough JM, McCulloch MT.  2014.  Corals record long-term Leeuwin current variability including Ningaloo Nino/Nina since 1795. Nature Communications. 5   10.1038/ncomms4607   AbstractWebsite

Variability of the Leeuwin current (LC) off Western Australia is a footprint of interannual and decadal climate variations in the tropical Indo-Pacific. La Nina events often result in a strengthened LC, high coastal sea levels and unusually warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs), termed Ningaloo Nino. The rarity of such extreme events and the response of the southeastern Indian Ocean to regional and remote climate forcing are poorly understood owing to the lack of long-term records. Here we use well-replicated coral SST records from within the path of the LC, together with a reconstruction of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation to hindcast historical SST and LC strength from 1795 to 2010. We show that interannual and decadal variations in SST and LC strength characterized the past 215 years and that the most extreme sea level and SST anomalies occurred post 1980. These recent events were unprecedented in severity and are likely aided by accelerated global ocean warming and sea-level rise.

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.

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.

2015
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.

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.  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.

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.

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.

Yang, Y, Xie SP, Wu LX, Kosaka Y, Lau NC, Vecchi GA.  2015.  Seasonality and predictability of the Indian Ocean Dipole Mode: ENSO forcing and internal variability. Journal of Climate. 28:8021-8036.   10.1175/jcli-d-15-0078.1   AbstractWebsite

This study evaluates the relative contributions to the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) mode of interannual variability from the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) forcing and ocean-atmosphere feedbacks internal to the Indian Ocean. The ENSO forcing and internal variability is extracted by conducting a 10-member coupled simulation for 1950-2012 where sea surface temperature (SST) is restored to the observed anomalies over the tropical Pacific but interactive with the atmosphere over the rest of the World Ocean. In these experiments, the ensemble mean is due to ENSO forcing and the intermember difference arises from internal variability of the climate system independent of ENSO. These elements contribute one-third and two-thirds of the total IOD variance, respectively. Both types of IOD variability develop into an east-west dipole pattern because of Bjerknes feedback and peak in September-November. The ENSO forced and internal IOD modes differ in several important ways. The forced IOD mode develops in August with a broad meridional pattern and eventually evolves into the Indian Ocean basin mode, while the internal IOD mode grows earlier in June, is more confined to the equator, and decays rapidly after October. The internal IOD mode is more skewed than the ENSO forced response. The destructive interference of ENSO forcing and internal variability can explain early terminating IOD events, referred to as IOD-like perturbations that fail to grow during boreal summer. The results have implications for predictability. Internal variability, as represented by preseason sea surface height anomalies off Sumatra, contributes to predictability considerably. Including this indicator of internal variability, together with ENSO, improves the predictability of IOD.

Xie, SP, Deser C, Vecchi GA, Collins M, Delworth TL, Hall A, Hawkins E, Johnson NC, Cassou C, Giannini A, Watanabe M.  2015.  Towards predictive understanding of regional climate change. Nature Climate Change. 5:921-930.   10.1038/nclimate2689   AbstractWebsite

Regional information on climate change is urgently needed but often deemed unreliable. To achieve credible regional climate projections, it is essential to understand underlying physical processes, reduce model biases and evaluate their impact on projections, and adequately account for internal variability. In the tropics, where atmospheric internal variability is small compared with the forced change, advancing our understanding of the coupling between long-term changes in upper-ocean temperature and the atmospheric circulation will help most to narrow the uncertainty. In the extratropics, relatively large internal variability introduces substantial uncertainty, while exacerbating risks associated with extreme events. Large ensemble simulations are essential to estimate the probabilistic distribution of climate change on regional scales. Regional models inherit atmospheric circulation uncertainty from global models and do not automatically solve the problem of regional climate change. We conclude that the current priority is to understand and reduce uncertainties on scales greater than 100 km to aid assessments at finer scales.

Zhou, ZQ, Xie SP.  2015.  Effects of climatological model biases on the projection of tropical climate change. Journal of Climate. 28:9909-9917.   10.1175/jcli-d-15-0243.1   AbstractWebsite

Climate models suffer from long-standing biases, including the double intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) problem and the excessive westward extension of the equatorial Pacific cold tongue. An atmospheric general circulation model is used to investigate how model biases in the mean state affect the projection of tropical climate change. The model is forced with a pattern of sea surface temperature (SST) increase derived from a coupled simulation of global warming but uses an SST climatology derived from either observations or a coupled historical simulation. The comparison of the experiments reveals that the climatological biases have important impacts on projected changes in the tropics. Specifically, during February-April when the climatological ITCZ displaces spuriously into the Southern Hemisphere, the model overestimates (underestimates) the projected rainfall increase in the warmer climate south (north) of the equator over the eastern Pacific. Furthermore, the global warming-induced Walker circulation slowdown is biased weak in the projection using coupled model climatology, suggesting that the projection of the reduced equatorial Pacific trade winds may also be underestimated. This is related to the bias that the climatological Walker circulation is too weak in the model, which is in turn due to a too-weak mean SST gradient in the zonal direction. The results highlight the importance of improving the climatological simulation for more reliable projections of regional climate change.

2016
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.

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.

Xie, SP, Kosaka Y, Du Y, Hu KM, Chowdary J, Huang G.  2016.  Indo-western Pacific ocean capacitor and coherent climate anomalies in post-ENSO summer: A review. Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. 33:411-432.   10.1007/s00376-015-5192-6   AbstractWebsite

ENSO induces coherent climate anomalies over the Indo-western Pacific, but these anomalies outlast SST anomalies of the equatorial Pacific by a season, with major effects on the Asian summer monsoon. This review provides historical accounts of major milestones and synthesizes recent advances in the endeavor to understand summer variability over the Indo-Northwest Pacific region. Specifically, a large-scale anomalous anticyclone (AAC) is a recurrent pattern in post-El NiEeno summers, spanning the tropical Northwest Pacific and North Indian oceans. Regarding the ocean memory that anchors the summer AAC, competing hypotheses emphasize either SST cooling in the easterly trade wind regime of the Northwest Pacific or SST warming in the westerly monsoon regime of the North Indian Ocean. Our synthesis reveals a coupled ocean-atmosphere mode that builds on both mechanisms in a two-stage evolution. In spring, when the northeast trades prevail, the AAC and Northwest Pacific cooling are coupled via wind-evaporation-SST feedback. The Northwest Pacific cooling persists to trigger a summer feedback that arises from the interaction of the AAC and North Indian Ocean warming, enabled by the westerly monsoon wind regime. This Indo-western Pacific ocean capacitor (IPOC) effect explains why El Nino stages its last act over the monsoonal Indo-Northwest Pacific and casts the Indian Ocean warming and AAC in leading roles. The IPOC displays interdecadal modulations by the ENSO variance cycle, significantly correlated with ENSO at the turn of the 20th century and after the 1970s, but not in between. Outstanding issues, including future climate projections, are also discussed.

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.

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.

Zheng, XT, Xie SP, Lv LH, Zhou ZQ.  2016.  Intermodel uncertainty in ENSO amplitude change tied to Pacific Ocean warming pattern. Journal of Climate. 29:7265-7279.   10.1175/jcli-d-16-0039.1   AbstractWebsite

How El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) will change under global warming affects changes in extreme events around the world. The change of ENSO amplitude is investigated based on the historical simulations and representative concentration pathway (RCP) 8.5 experiments in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). The projected change in ENSO amplitude is highly uncertain with large intermodel uncertainty. By using the relative sea surface temperature (SST) as a measure of convective instability, this study finds that the spatial pattern of tropical Pacific surface warming is the major source of intermodel uncertainty in ENSO amplitude change. In models with an enhanced mean warming in the eastern equatorial Pacific, the barrier to deep convection is reduced, and the intensified rainfall anomalies of ENSO amplify the wind response and hence SST variability. In models with a reduced eastern Pacific warming, conversely, ENSO amplitude decreases. Corroborating the mean SST pattern effect, intermodel uncertainty in changes of ENSO-induced rainfall variability decreases substantially in atmospheric simulations forced by a common ocean warming pattern. Thus, reducing the uncertainty in the Pacific surface warming pattern helps improve the reliability of ENSO projections. To the extent that correcting model biases favors an El Nino-like mean warming pattern, this study suggests an increase in ENSO-related SST variance likely under global warming.

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.

2017
Wang, CY, Xie SP, Kosaka Y, Liu QY, Zheng XT.  2017.  Global influence of tropical Pacific variability with implications for global warming slowdown. Journal of Climate. 30:2679-2695.   10.1175/jcli-d-15-0496.1   AbstractWebsite

The impact of internal tropical Pacific variability on global mean surface temperature (GMST) is quantified using a multimodel ensemble. A tropical Pacific index (TPI) is defined to track tropical Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) variability. The simulated GMST is highly correlated with TPI on the interannual time scale but this correlation weakens on the decadal time scale. The time-scale dependency is such that the GMST regression equation derived from the observations, which are dominated by interannual variability, would underestimate the magnitude of decadal GMST response to tropical Pacific variability. The surface air temperature response to tropical Pacific variability is strong in the tropics but weakens in the extratropics. The regression coefficient of GMST against TPI shows considerable intermodel variations, primarily because of differences in high latitudes. The results have important implications for the planned intercomparison of pacemaker experiments that force Pacific variability to follow the observed evolution. The model dependency of the GMST regression suggests that in pacemaker experiments-model performance in simulating the recent "slowdown'' in global warming-will vary substantially among models. It also highlights the need to develop observational constraints and to quantify the TPI effect on the decadal variability of GMST. Compared to GMST, the correlation between global mean tropospheric temperature and TPI is high on both interannual and decadal time scales because of a common structure in the tropical tropospheric temperature response that is upward amplified and meridionally broad.