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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.

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

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

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.

Xu, Y, Xie SP.  2015.  Ocean mediation of tropospheric response to reflecting and absorbing aerosols. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 15:5827-5833.   10.5194/acp-15-5827-2015   AbstractWebsite

Radiative forcing by reflecting (e.g., sulfate, SO4) and absorbing (e.g., black carbon, BC) aerosols is distinct: the former cools the planet by reducing solar radiation at the top of the atmosphere and the surface, without largely affecting the atmospheric column, while the latter heats the atmosphere directly. Despite the fundamental difference in forcing, here we show that the structure of the tropospheric response is remarkably similar between the two types of aerosols, featuring a deep vertical structure of temperature change (of opposite sign) at the Northern Hemisphere (NH) mid-latitudes. The deep temperature structure is anchored by the slow response of the ocean, as a large meridional sea surface temperature (SST) gradient drives an anomalous interhemispheric Hadley circulation in the tropics and induces atmospheric eddy adjustments at the NH mid-latitudes. The tropospheric warming in response to projected future decline in reflecting aerosols poses additional threats to the stability of mountain glaciers in the NH. Additionally, robust tropospheric response is unique to aerosol forcing and absent in the CO2 response, which can be exploited for climate change attribution.

Kang, SM, Xie SP.  2014.  Dependence of climate response on meridional structure of external thermal forcing. Journal of Climate. 27:5593-5600.   10.1175/jcli-d-13-00622.1   AbstractWebsite

This study shows that the magnitude of global surface warming greatly depends on the meridional distribution of surface thermal forcing. An atmospheric model coupled to an aquaplanet slab mixed layer ocean is perturbed by prescribing heating to the ocean mixed layer. The heating is distributed uniformly globally or confined to narrow tropical or polar bands, and the amplitude is adjusted to ensure that the global mean remains the same for all cases. Since the tropical temperature is close to a moist adiabat, the prescribed heating leads to a maximized warming near the tropopause, whereas the polar warming is trapped near the surface because of strong atmospheric stability. Hence, the surface warming is more effectively damped by radiation in the tropics than in the polar region. As a result, the global surface temperature increase is weak (strong) when the given amount of heating is confined to the tropical (polar) band. The degree of this contrast is shown to depend on water vapor- and cloud-radiative feedbacks that alter the effective strength of prescribed thermal forcing.

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.

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.