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Kang, SM, Shin Y, Xie S-P.  2018.  Extratropical forcing and tropical rainfall distribution: energetics framework and ocean Ekman advection. npj Climate and Atmospheric Science. 1:2.   10.1038/s41612-017-0004-6   Abstract

Intense tropical rainfall occurs in a narrow belt near the equator, called the inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ). In the past decade, the atmospheric energy budget has been used to explain changes in the zonal-mean ITCZ position. The energetics framework provides a mechanism for extratropics-to-tropics teleconnections, which have been postulated from paleoclimate records. In atmosphere models coupled with a motionless slab ocean, the ITCZ shifts toward the warmed hemisphere in order for the Hadley circulation to transport energy toward the colder hemisphere. However, recent studies using fully coupled models show that tropical rainfall can be rather insensitive to extratropical forcing when ocean dynamics is included. Here, we explore the effect of meridional Ekman heat advection while neglecting the upwelling effect on the ITCZ response to prescribed extratropical thermal forcing. The tropical component of Ekman advection is a negative feedback that partially compensates the prescribed forcing, whereas the extratropical component is a positive feedback that amplifies the prescribed forcing. Overall, the tropical negative feedback dominates over the extratropical positive feedback. Thus, including Ekman advection reduces the need for atmospheric energy transport, dampening the ITCZ response. We propose to build a hierarchy of ocean models to systematically explore the full dynamical response of the coupled climate system.

Shi, JR, Xie SP, Talley LD.  2018.  Evolving relative importance of the Southern Ocean and North Atlantic in anthropogenic ocean heat uptake. Journal of Climate. 31:7459-7479.   10.1175/jcli-d-18-0170.1   AbstractWebsite

Ocean uptake of anthropogenic heat over the past 15 years has mostly occurred in the Southern Ocean, based on Argo float observations. This agrees with historical simulations from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), where the Southern Ocean (south of 30 degrees S) accounts for 72% +/- 28% of global heat uptake, while the contribution from the North Atlantic north of 30 degrees N is only 6%. Aerosols preferentially cool the Northern Hemisphere, and the effect on surface heat flux over the subpolar North Atlantic opposes the greenhouse gas (GHG) effect in nearly equal magnitude. This heat uptake compensation is associated with weakening (strengthening) of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) in response to GHG (aerosol) radiative forcing. Aerosols are projected to decline in the near future, reinforcing the greenhouse effect on the North Atlantic heat uptake. As a result, the Southern Ocean, which will continue to take up anthropogenic heat largely through the mean upwelling of water from depth, will be joined by increased relative contribution from the North Atlantic because of substantial AMOC slowdown in the twenty-first century. In the RCP8.5 scenario, the percentage contribution to global uptake is projected to decrease to 48% +/- 8% in the Southern Ocean and increase to 26% +/- 6% in the northern North Atlantic. Despite the large uncertainty in the magnitude of projected aerosol forcing, our results suggest that anthropogenic aerosols, given their geographic distributions and temporal trajectories, strongly influence the high-latitude ocean heat uptake and interhemispheric asymmetry through AMOC change.

Xu, LX, Xie SP, Liu QY, Liu C, Li PL, Lin XP.  2017.  Evolution of the North Pacific subtropical mode water in anticyclonic eddies. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 122:10118-10130.   10.1002/2017jc013450   AbstractWebsite

Anticyclonic eddies (AEs) trap and transport the North Pacific subtropical mode water (STMW), but the evolution of the STMW trapped in AEs has not been fully studied due to the lack of eddy-tracking subsurface observations. Here we analyze profiles from special-designed Argo floats that follow two STMW-trapping AEs for more than a year. The enhanced daily sampling by these Argo floats swirling around the eddies enables an unprecedented investigation into the structure and evolution of the trapped STMW. In the AEs, the upper (lower) thermocline domes up ( concaves downward), and this lens-shaped double thermocline encompasses the thick STMW within the eddy core. The lighter STMW (25.0 similar to 25.2 sigma(theta)) trapped in AEs dissipates quickly after the formation in winter because of the deepening seasonal thermocline, but the denser STMW (25.2 similar to 25.4 sigma(theta)) remains largely unchanged except when the AE passes across the Izu Ridge. The enhanced diapycnal mixing over the ridge weakens the denser STMW appreciably. While many AEs decay upon hitting the ridge, some pass through a bathymetric gap between the Hachijojima and Bonin Islands, forming a cross- ridge pathway for STMW transport. By contrast, the North Pacific Intermediate Water (NPIW) underneath is deeper than the eddy trapping depth (600 m), and hence left behind east of the Izu Ridge. In Argo climatology, the shallow STMW (< 400 m) intrudes through the gap westward because of the eddy transport, while the NPIW (800 m) is blocked by the Izu Ridge.

Xie, SP, Kubokawa A, Hanawa K.  1993.  EVAPORATION WIND FEEDBACK AND THE ORGANIZING OF TROPICAL CONVECTION ON THE PLANETARY SCALE .2. NONLINEAR EVOLUTION. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. 50:3884-3893. Abstract
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Xie, SP, Kubokawa A, Hanawa K.  1993.  EVAPORATION WIND FEEDBACK AND THE ORGANIZING OF TROPICAL CONVECTION ON THE PLANETARY SCALE .1. QUASI-LINEAR INSTABILITY. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. 50:3873-3883. Abstract
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Zhou, ZQ, Xie SP, Zhang GJ, Zhou WY.  2018.  Evaluating AMIP Skill in Simulating Interannual Variability over the Indo-Western Pacific. Journal of Climate. 31:2253-2265.   10.1175/jcli-d-17-0123.1   AbstractWebsite

Local correlation between sea surface temperature (SST) and rainfall is weak or even negative in summer over the Indo-western Pacific warm pool, a fact often taken as indicative of weak ocean feedback on the atmosphere. An Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP) simulation forced by monthly varying SSTs derived from a parallel coupled general circulation model (CGCM) run is used to evaluate AMIP skills in simulating interannual variability of rainfall. Local correlation of rainfall variability between AMIP and CGCMsimulations is used as a direct metric of AMIP skill. This "perfect model'' approach sidesteps the issue of model biases that complicates the traditional skill metric based on the correlation between AMIP and observations. Despite weak local SST-rainfall correlation, the AMIP-CGCM rainfall correlation exceeds a 95% significance level over most of the Indo-western Pacific warm pool, indicating the importance of remote (e.g., El Nino in the equatorial Pacific) rather than local SST forcing. Indeed, the AMIP successfully reproduces large-scale modes of rainfall variability over the Indo-western Pacific warm pool. Compared to the northwest Pacific east of the Philippines, the AMIP-CGCMrainfall correlation is low from the Bay of Bengal through the South China Sea, limited by internal variability of the atmosphere that is damped in CGCM by negative feedback from the ocean. Implications for evaluating AMIP skill in simulating observations are discussed.

Tomita, T, Xie SP, Nonaka M.  2002.  Estimates of surface and subsurface forcing for decadal sea surface temperature variability in the mid-latitude North Pacific. Journal of the Meteorological Society of Japan. 80:1289-1300. Abstract
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Qu, X, Huang G, Hu KM, Xie SP, Du Y, Zheng XT, Liu L.  2015.  Equatorward shift of the South Asian high in response to anthropogenic forcing. Theoretical and Applied Climatology. 119:113-122.   10.1007/s00704-014-1095-1   AbstractWebsite

The South Asian high (SAH) is a huge anticyclone in the upper troposphere. It influences the climate and the distribution of trace constituents and pollutants. The present study documents the change in the SAH and precipitation under global warming, as well as the possible link between the changes, based on 17 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) model simulations. The CMIP5 historical simulation reproduces reasonably the tropospheric circulation (including the SAH), precipitation, and moisture. Under global warming, more than 75 % of the CMIP5 models project a southward shift of the SAH. The southward shift is more significant in the models with stronger anticyclonic circulation in the south part of the climatological SAH. The precipitation response displays a contrasting feature: negative over the southeastern equatorial Indian Ocean (IO) and positive over the tropical northern IO, the Bay of Bengal, and the equatorial western Pacific. The results of a linear baroclinic model (LBM) show that the regional rainfall changes over the Bay of Bengal and the equatorial western Pacific have a main contribution to the southward shift of the SAH. In addition, the precipitation and the surface wind responses over the Indo-Pacific region are well coupled. On one hand, the surface wind anomaly affects the rainfall response through altering the SST and moisture. On the other hand, the condensational heating released by regional rainfall changes sustains the surface wind response.

Richter, I, Xie SP, Behera SK, Doi T, Masumoto Y.  2014.  Equatorial Atlantic variability and its relation to mean state biases in CMIP5. Climate Dynamics. 42:171-188.   10.1007/s00382-012-1624-5   AbstractWebsite

Coupled general circulation model (GCM) simulations participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) are analyzed with respect to their performance in the equatorial Atlantic. In terms of the mean state, 29 out of 33 models examined continue to suffer from serious biases including an annual mean zonal equatorial SST gradient whose sign is opposite to observations. Westerly surface wind biases in boreal spring play an important role in the reversed SST gradient by deepening the thermocline in the eastern equatorial Atlantic and thus reducing upwelling efficiency and SST cooling in the following months. Both magnitude and seasonal evolution of the biases are very similar to what was found previously for CMIP3 models, indicating that improvements have only been modest. The weaker than observed equatorial easterlies are also simulated by atmospheric GCMs forced with observed SST. They are related to both continental convection and the latitudinal position of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ). Particularly the latter has a strong influence on equatorial zonal winds in both the seasonal cycle and interannual variability. The dependence of equatorial easterlies on ITCZ latitude shows a marked asymmetry. From the equator to 15A degrees N, the equatorial easterlies intensify approximately linearly with ITCZ latitude. When the ITCZ is south of the equator, on the other hand, the equatorial easterlies are uniformly weak. Despite serious mean state biases, several models are able to capture some aspects of the equatorial mode of interannual SST variability, including amplitude, pattern, phase locking to boreal summer, and duration of events. The latitudinal position of the boreal spring ITCZ, through its influence on equatorial surface winds, appears to play an important role in initiating warm events.

Alexander, MA, Seo H, Xie SP, Scott JD.  2012.  ENSO's Impact on the Gap Wind Regions of the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean. Journal of Climate. 25:3549-3565.   10.1175/jcli-d-11-00320.1   Abstract

The recently released NCEP Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) is used to examine the response to ENSO in the northeast tropical Pacific Ocean (NETP) during 1979-2009. The normally cool Pacific sea surface temperatures (SSTs) associated with wind jets through the gaps in the Central American mountains at Tehuantepec, Papagayo, and Panama are substantially warmer (colder) than the surrounding ocean during El Nino (La Nina) events. Ocean dynamics generate the ENSO-related SST anomalies in the gap wind regions as the surface fluxes damp the SSTs anomalies, while the Ekman heat transport is generally in quadrature with the anomalies. The ENSO-driven warming is associated with large-scale deepening of the thermocline; with the cold thermocline water at greater depths during El Nino in the NETP, it is less likely to be vertically mixed to the surface, particularly in the gap wind regions where the thermocline is normally very close to the surface. The thermocline deepening is enhanced to the south of the Costa Rica Dome in the Papagayo region, which contributes to the local ENSO-driven SST anomalies. The NETP thermocline changes are due to coastal Kelvin waves that initiate westward-propagating Rossby waves, and possibly ocean eddies, rather than by local Ekman pumping. These findings were confirmed with regional ocean model experiments: only integrations that included interannually varying ocean boundary conditions were able to simulate the thermocline deepening and localized warming in the NETP during El Nino events; the simulation with variable surface fluxes, but boundary conditions that repeated the seasonal cycle, did not.

Sugimoto, S, Hanawa K, Watanabe T, Suga T, Xie SP.  2017.  Enhanced warming of the subtropical mode water in the North Pacific and North Atlantic. Nature Climate Change. 7:656-+.   10.1038/nclimate3371   AbstractWebsite
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Eddebbar, YA, Rodgers KB, Long MC, Subramanian AC, Xie SP, Keeling RF.  2019.  El Nino-like physical and biogeochemical ocean response to tropical eruptions. Journal of Climate. 32:2627-2649.   10.1175/jcli-d-18-0458.1   AbstractWebsite

The oceanic response to recent tropical eruptions is examined in Large Ensemble (LE) experiments from two fully coupled global climate models, the Community Earth System Model (CESM) and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Earth System Model (ESM2M), each forced by a distinct volcanic forcing dataset. Following the simulated eruptions of Agung, El Chichon, and Pinatubo, the ocean loses heat and gains oxygen and carbon, in general agreement with available observations. In both models, substantial global surface cooling is accompanied by El Nino-like equatorial Pacific surface warming a year after the volcanic forcing peaks. A mechanistic analysis of the CESM and ESM2M responses to Pinatubo identifies remote wind forcing from the western Pacific as a major driver of this El Nino-like response. Following eruption, faster cooling over the Maritime Continent than adjacent oceans suppresses convection and leads to persistent westerly wind anomalies over the western tropical Pacific. These wind anomalies excite equatorial downwelling Kelvin waves and the upwelling of warm subsurface anomalies in the eastern Pacific, promoting the development of El Nino conditions through Bjerknes feedbacks a year after eruption. This El Nino-like response drives further ocean heat loss through enhanced equatorial cloud albedo, and dominates global carbon uptake as upwelling of carbon-rich waters is suppressed in the tropical Pacific. Oxygen uptake occurs primarily at high latitudes, where surface cooling intensifies the ventilation of subtropical thermocline waters. These volcanically forced ocean responses are large enough to contribute to the observed decadal variability in oceanic heat, carbon, and oxygen.

Li, JB, Xie SP, Cook ER.  2014.  El Nino phases embedded in Asian and North American drought reconstructions. Quaternary Science Reviews. 85:20-34.   10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.11.014   AbstractWebsite

The amplitude of El Nil-ID-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) varies substantially at each phase of its evolution, affecting the timing and patterns of atmospheric teleconnections around the globe. Instrumental records are too short to capture the full behavior of ENSO variability. Here we use the well-validated Monsoon Asia Drought Atlas (MADA) and North America Drought Atlas (NADA) for the past 700 years, and show that tree-ring records from different regions represent tropical sea surface temperature (SST) conditions at various phases of ENSO. Three modes of tree-ring based summer drought variability are found to be correlated with ENSO: summer droughts over the Maritime Continent and Southwest North America (NA), and a dipole mode between Central and South Asia. A lagged correlation analysis is performed to determine the time when precipitation and temperature anomaly imprints on summer droughts as recorded in tree-rings. Drought anomalies in the Maritime Continent and Southwest NA represent ENSO at the developing and peak phases respectively, while those over Central/South Asia are associated with tropical-wide SST anomalies (including the Indian Ocean) at the decay phase of ENSO. Thus proxy records from different regions can provide valuable information on long-term behavior of ENSO at different phases. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Li, JB, Xie SP, Cook ER, Morales MS, Christie DA, Johnson NC, Chen FH, D'Arrigo R, Fowler AM, Gou XH, Fang KY.  2013.  El Nino modulations over the past seven centuries. Nature Climate Change. 3:822-826.   10.1038/nclimate1936   AbstractWebsite

Predicting how the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) will change with global warming is of enormous importance to society(1-4). ENSO exhibits considerable natural variability at interdecadal-centennial timescales(5). Instrumental records are too short to determine whether ENSO has changed(6) and existing reconstructions are often developed without adequate tropical records. Here we present a seven-century-long ENSO reconstruction based on 2,222 tree-ring chronologies from both the tropics and mid-latitudes in both hemispheres. The inclusion of tropical records enables us to achieve unprecedented accuracy, as attested by high correlations with equatorial Pacific corals(7,8) and coherent modulation of global teleconnections that are consistent with an independent Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstruction(9). Our data indicate that ENSO activity in the late twentieth century was anomalously high over the past seven centuries, suggestive of a response to continuing global warming. Climate models disagree on the ENSO response to global warming(3,4), suggesting that many models underestimate the sensitivity to radiative perturbations. Illustrating the radiative effect, our reconstruction reveals a robust ENSO response to large tropical eruptions, with anomalous cooling in the east-central tropical Pacific in the year of eruption, followed by anomalous warming one year after. Our observations provide crucial constraints for improving climate models and their future projections.

Liu, JW, Xie SP, Zhang SP.  2015.  Effects of the Hawaiian Islands on the vertical structure of low-level clouds from CALIPSO lidar. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 120:215-228.   10.1002/2014jd022410   AbstractWebsite

The steady northeast trade winds impinge on the Hawaiian Islands, producing prominent island wakes of multispatial scales from tens to thousands of kilometers. Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) reveal rich three-dimensional structures of low-level clouds that are induced by the islands, distinct from the background environment. The cloud frequency peaks between 1.5 and 2.0km in cloud top elevation over the windward slopes of the islands of Kauai and Oahu due to orographic lifting and daytime island heating. In the nighttime near-island wake of Kauai, CALIPSO captures a striking cloud hole below 1.6km as the cold advection from the island suppresses low-level clouds. The cyclonic eddy of the mechanical wake behind the island of Hawaii favors the formation of low-level clouds (below 2.5km), and the anticyclonic eddy suppresses the low-level cloud formation, indicative of the dynamical effect on the vertical structure of low-level clouds. In the long Hawaiian wake due to air-sea interaction, low-level clouds form over both the warmer and colder waters, but the cloud tops are 400-600m higher over the warm than the cold waters. In addition, the day-night differences and the sensitivity of low-level clouds to the background trade wind inversion height are also studied. Key Points

Xu, HM, Wang YQ, Xie SP.  2004.  Effects of the Andes on eastern Pacific climate: A regional atmospheric model study. Journal of Climate. 17:589-602. Abstract
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Xie, SP.  1996.  Effects of seasonal solar forcing on latitudinal asymmetry of the ITCZ. Journal of Climate. 9:2945-2950. Abstract
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Chow, CH, Liu QY, Xie SP.  2015.  Effects of Kuroshio Intrusions on the atmosphere northeast of Taiwan Island. Geophysical Research Letters. 42:1465-1470.   10.1002/2014gl062796   AbstractWebsite

The Kuroshio loses bathymetric support off northeast Taiwan Island, causing large variability in its path. The resultant covariability of sea surface temperature (SST) and the lower atmosphere is investigated using satellite observations. In winter and spring off northeast Taiwan Island, the intrusions of warm Kuroshio water onto the continental shelf cause a large increase in local SST, intensify the northeasterly monsoonal winds, and lead to the increases in water vapor and rainfall. Key to this air-sea interaction is the existence of anomalous heat advection by the Kuroshio intrusions. The Kuroshio intrusions are partly due to westward propagating ocean eddies east of Taiwan Island with a lead time of 3weeks, hinting at the possibility of improved weather prediction near northeast Taiwan Island by considering ocean variability east of Taiwan Island.

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.

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.

Xu, HM, Xie SP, Wang YQ, Small RJ.  2005.  Effects of Central American mountains on the eastern Pacific winter ITCZ and moisture transport. Journal of Climate. 18:3856-3873. Abstract
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de Szoeke, SP, Wang YQ, Xie SP, Miyama T.  2006.  Effect of shallow cumulus convection on the eastern Pacific climate in a coupled model. Geophysical Research Letters. 33   10.1029/2006gl026715   Abstract
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Timmermann, A, Lorenz SJ, An SI, Clement A, Xie SP.  2007.  The effect of orbital forcing on the mean climate and variability of the tropical Pacific. Journal of Climate. 20:4147-4159.   10.1175/jcli4240.1   Abstract
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Pahnke, K, Sachs JP, Keigwin L, Timmermann A, Xie SP.  2007.  Eastern tropical Pacific hydrologic changes during the past 27,000 years from D/H ratios in alkenones. Paleoceanography. 22   10.1029/2007pa001468   Abstract
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