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2018
Stuecker, MF, Bitz CM, Armour KC, Proistosescu C, Kang SM, Xie SP, Kim D, McGregor S, Zhang WJ, Zhao S, Cai WJ, Dong Y, Jin FF.  2018.  Polar amplification dominated by local forcing and feedbacks. Nature Climate Change. 8:1076-+.   10.1038/s41558-018-0339-y   AbstractWebsite

The surface temperature response to greenhouse gas forcing displays a characteristic pattern of polar-amplified warming(1-5), particularly in the Northern Hemisphere. However, the causes of this polar amplification are still debated. Some studies highlight the importance of surface-albedo feedback(6-8), while others find larger contributions from longwave feedbacks(4,9,10), with changes in atmospheric and oceanic heat transport also thought to play a role(11-16). Here, we determine the causes of polar amplification using climate model simulations in which CO2 forcing is prescribed in distinct geographical regions, with the linear sum of climate responses to regional forcings replicating the response to global forcing. The degree of polar amplification depends strongly on the location of CO2 forcing. In particular, polar amplification is found to be dominated by forcing in the polar regions, specifically through positive local lapse-rate feedback, with ice-albedo and Planck feedbacks playing subsidiary roles. Extra-polar forcing is further shown to be conducive to polar warming, but given that it induces a largely uniform warming pattern through enhanced poleward heat transport, it contributes little to polar amplification. Therefore, understanding polar amplification requires primarily a better insight into local forcing and feedbacks rather than extra-polar processes.

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

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

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.

2017
Tokinaga, H, Xie SP, Mukougawa H.  2017.  Early 20th-century Arctic warming intensified by Pacific and Atlantic multidecadal variability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 114:6227-6232.   10.1073/pnas.1615880114   AbstractWebsite

With amplified warming and record sea ice loss, the Arctic is the canary of global warming. The historical Arctic warming is poorly understood, limiting our confidence in model projections. Specifically, Arctic surface air temperature increased rapidly over the early 20th century, at rates comparable to those of recent decades despite much weaker greenhouse gas forcing. Here, we show that the concurrent phase shift of Pacific and Atlantic interdecadal variability modes is the major driver for the rapid early 20th-century Arctic warming. Atmospheric model simulations successfully reproduce the early Arctic warming when the interdecadal variability of sea surface temperature (SST) is properly prescribed. The early 20th-century Arctic warming is associated with positive SST anomalies over the tropical and North Atlantic and a Pacific SST pattern reminiscent of the positive phase of the Pacific decadal oscillation. Atmospheric circulation changes are important for the early 20th-century Arctic warming. The equatorial Pacific warming deepens the Aleutian low, advecting warm air into the North American Arctic. The extratropical North Atlantic and North Pacific SST warming strengthens surface westerly winds over northern Eurasia, intensifying the warming there. Coupled ocean-atmosphere simulations support the constructive intensification of Arctic warming by a concurrent, negative-to-positive phase shift of the Pacific and Atlantic interdecadal modes. Our results aid attributing the historical Arctic warming and thereby constrain the amplified warming projected for this important region.

2015
Liu, W, Lu J, Leung LR, Xie SP, Liu ZY, Zhu J.  2015.  The de-correlation of westerly winds and westerly-wind stress over the Southern Ocean during the Last Glacial Maximum. Climate Dynamics. 45:3157-3168.   10.1007/s00382-015-2530-4   AbstractWebsite

Motivated by indications from paleo-evidence, this paper investigates the changes of the Southern Westerly Winds (SWW) and westerly-wind stress between the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and pre-industrial in the PMIP3/CMIP5 simulations, highlighting the role of Antarctic sea ice in modulating the wind effect on ocean. Particularly, a de-correlation occurs between the changes in SWW and westerly-wind stress, caused primarily by an equatorward expansion of winter Antarctic sea ice that undermines the efficacy of wind in generating stress over the liquid ocean. Such de-correlation may reflect the LGM condition in reality, in view of the fact that the model which simulates this condition has most fidelity in simulating modern SWW and Antarctic sea ice. Therein two models stand out for their agreements with paleo-evidence regarding the change of SWW and the westerly-wind stress. They simulate strengthened and poleward-migrated LGM SWW in the atmosphere, consistent with the indications from dust records. Whilst in the ocean, they well capture an equatorward-shifted pattern of the observed oceanic front shift, with most pronounced equatorward-shifted westerly wind stress during the LGM.