Publications

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2018
Wang, CY, Xie SP, Kosaka Y.  2018.  Indo-Western Pacific Climate Variability: ENSO Forcing and Internal Dynamics in a Tropical Pacific Pacemaker Simulation. Journal of Climate. 31:10123-10139.   10.1175/jcli-d-18-0203.1   AbstractWebsite

El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) peaks in boreal winter but its impact on Indo-western Pacific climate persists for another two seasons. Key ocean-atmosphere interaction processes for the ENSO effect are investigated using the Pacific Ocean-Global Atmosphere (POGA) experiment with a coupled general circulation model, where tropical Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies are restored to follow observations while the atmosphere and oceans are fully coupled elsewhere. The POGA shows skills in simulating the ENSO-forced warming of the tropical Indian Ocean and an anomalous anticyclonic circulation pattern over the northwestern tropical Pacific in the post-El Nino spring and summer. The 10-member POGA ensemble allows decomposing Indo-western Pacific variability into the ENSO forced and ENSO-unrelated (internal) components. Internal variability is comparable to the ENSO forcing in magnitude and independent of ENSO amplitude and phase. Random internal variability causes apparent decadal modulations of ENSO correlations over the Indo-western Pacific, which are high during epochs of high ENSO variance. This is broadly consistent with instrumental observations over the past 130 years as documented in recent studies. Internal variability features a sea level pressure pattern that extends into the north Indian Ocean and is associated with coherent SST anomalies from the Arabian Sea to the western Pacific, suggestive of ocean-atmosphere coupling.

Zhang, Y, Xie SP, Kosaka Y, Yang JC.  2018.  Pacific decadal oscillation: Tropical Pacific forcing versus internal variability. Journal of Climate. 31:8265-8279.   10.1175/jcli-d-18-0164.1   AbstractWebsite

The Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) is the leading mode of sea surface temperature (SST) variability over the North Pacific (north of 20 degrees N). Its South Pacific counterpart (south of 20 degrees S) is the South Pacific decadal oscillation (SPDO). The effects of tropical eastern Pacific (TEP) SST forcing and internal atmospheric variability are investigated for both the PDO and SPDO using a 10-member ensemble tropical Pacific pacemaker experiment. Each member is forced by the historical radiative forcing and observed SST anomalies in the TEP region. Outside the TEP region, the ocean and atmosphere are fully coupled and freely evolve. The TEP-forced PDO (54% variance) and SPDO (46% variance) are correlated in time and exhibit a symmetric structure about the equator, driven by the Pacific-North American (PNA) and Pacific-South American teleconnections, respectively. The internal PDO resembles the TEP-forced component but is related to internal Aleutian low (AL) variability associated with the Northern Hemisphere annular mode and PNA pattern. The internal variability is locally enhanced by barotropic energy conversion in the westerly jet exit region around the Aleutians. By contrast, barotropic energy conversion is weak associated with the internal SPDO, resulting in weak geographical preference of sea level pressure variability. Therefore, the internal SPDO differs from the TEP-forced component, featuring SST anomalies along similar to 60 degrees S in association with the Southern Hemisphere annular mode. The limitations on isolating the internal component from observations are discussed. Specifically, internal PDO variability appears to contribute significantly to the North Pacific regime shift in the 1940s.

2016
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.

2015
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.

2013
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.

Zheng, XT, Xie SP, Du Y, Liu L, Huang G, Liu QY.  2013.  Indian Ocean dipole response to global warming in the CMIP5 multimodel ensemble. Journal of Climate. 26:6067-6080.   10.1175/jcli-d-12-00638.1   AbstractWebsite

The response of the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) mode to global warming is investigated based on simulations from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). In response to increased greenhouse gases, an IOD-like warming pattern appears in the equatorial Indian Ocean, with reduced (enhanced) warming in the east (west), an easterly wind trend, and thermocline shoaling in the east. Despite a shoaling thermocline and strengthened thermocline feedback in the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean, the interannual variance of the IOD mode remains largely unchanged in sea surface temperature (SST) as atmospheric feedback and zonal wind variance weaken under global warming. The negative skewness in eastern Indian Ocean SST is reduced as a result of the shoaling thermocline. The change in interannual IOD variance exhibits some variability among models, and this intermodel variability is correlated with the change in thermocline feedback. The results herein illustrate that mean state changes modulate interannual modes, and suggest that recent changes in the IOD mode are likely due to natural variations.

Fuckar, NS, Xie SP, Farneti R, Maroon EA, Frierson DMW.  2013.  Influence of the extratropical ocean circulation on the intertropical convergence zone in an idealized coupled general circulation model. Journal of Climate. 26:4612-4629.   10.1175/jcli-d-12-00294.1   AbstractWebsite

The authors present coupled model simulations in which the ocean's meridional overturning circulation (MOC) sets the zonal mean location of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) in the hemisphere with deep-water production. They use a coarse-resolution single-basin sector coupled general circulation model (CGCM) with simplified atmospheric physics and two idealized land-sea distributions.In an equatorially symmetric closed-basin setting, unforced climate asymmetry develops because of the advective circulation-salinity feedback that amplifies the asymmetry of the deep-MOC cell and the upper-ocean meridional salinity transport. It confines the deep-water production and the dominant extratropical ocean heat release to a randomly selected hemisphere. The resultant ocean heat transport (OHT) toward the hemisphere with the deep-water source is partially compensated by the atmospheric heat transport (AHT) across the equator via an asymmetric Hadley circulation, setting the ITCZ in the hemisphere warmed by the ocean.When a circumpolar channel is open at subpolar latitudes, the circumpolar current disrupts the poleward transport of the upper-ocean saline water and suppresses deep-water formation poleward of the channel. The MOC adjusts by lowering the main pycnocline and shifting the deep-water production into the opposite hemisphere from the channel, and the ITCZ location follows the deep-water source again because of the Hadley circulation adjustment to cross-equatorial OHT. The climate response is sensitive to the sill depth of the channel but becomes saturated when the sill is deeper than the main pycnocline depth in subtropics. In simulations with a circumpolar channel, the ITCZ is in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) because of the Southern Hemisphere (SH) circumpolar flow that forces northward OHT.