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Yang, Y, Xie SP, Hafner J.  2008.  The thermal wake of Kauai Island: Satellite observations and numerical simulations. Journal of Climate. 21:4568-4586.   10.1175/2008jcli1895.1   Abstract
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Endoh, T, Mitsudera H, Xie SP, Qiu B.  2004.  Thermohaline structure in the subarctic North Pacific simulated in a general circulation model. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 34:360-371. Abstract
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Kobashi, F, Mitsudera H, Xie SP.  2006.  Three subtropical fronts in the North Pacific: Observational evidence for mode water-induced subsurface frontogenesis. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 111   10.1029/2006jc003479   Abstract
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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.

Liu, W, Xie SP, Lu J.  2016.  Tracking ocean heat uptake during the surface warming hiatus. Nature Communications. 7   10.1038/ncomms10926   AbstractWebsite

Ocean heat uptake is observed to penetrate deep into the Atlantic and Southern Oceans during the recent hiatus of global warming. Here we show that the deep heat penetration in these two basins is not unique to the hiatus but is characteristic of anthropogenic warming and merely reflects the depth of the mean meridional overturning circulation in the basin. We find, however, that heat redistribution in the upper 350m between the Pacific and Indian Oceans is closely tied to the surface warming hiatus. The Indian Ocean shows an anomalous warming below 50m during hiatus events due to an enhanced heat transport by the Indonesian throughflow in response to the intensified trade winds in the equatorial Pacific. Thus, the Pacific and Indian Oceans are the key regions to track ocean heat uptake during the surface warming hiatus.

Yang, JC, Lin XP, Xie SP.  2017.  A Transbasin Mode of Interannual Variability of the Central American Gap Winds: Seasonality and Large-Scale Forcing. Journal of Climate. 30:8223-8235.   10.1175/jcli-d-17-0021.1   AbstractWebsite

A transbasin mode (TBM) is identified as the leading mode of interannual surface wind variability over the Intra-Americas Seas across Central America based on empirical orthogonal function analysis. The TBM is associated with variability in Central American gap winds, most closely with the Papagayo jet but with considerable signals over the Gulfs of Tehuantepec and Panama. Although El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the main large-scale forcing, the TBM features a distinct seasonality due to sea level pressure (SLP) adjustments across the Pacific and Atlantic. During July-September, ENSO causes meridional SLP gradient anomalies across Central America, intensifying anomalous geostrophic winds funneling through Papagayo to form the TBM. During wintertime, ENSO peaks but imparts little anomalous SLP gradient across Central America with a weak projection on the TBM because of the competing effects of the Pacific-North American teleconnection and tropospheric Kelvin waves. Besides ENSO, tropical Atlantic sea surface temperature anomalies make a weak contribution to the TBM in boreal summer by strengthening the cross-basin gradient. ENSO and the Atlantic forcing constitute a cross-basin seesaw pattern in SLP, manifested as an anomalous Walker circulation across the tropical Americas. The TBM appears to be part of the low-level branch of the anomalous Walker circulation, which modulates Central American wind jets by orographic effect. This study highlights the seasonality of gap wind variability, and calls for further research into its influence on regional climate.

Okumura, Y, Xie SP, Numaguti A, Tanimoto Y.  2001.  Tropical Atlantic air-sea interaction and its influence on the NAO. Geophysical Research Letters. 28:1507-1510. Abstract
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Richter, I, Xie S-P, Wittenberg AT, Masumoto Y.  2012.  Tropical Atlantic biases and their relation to surface wind stress and terrestrial precipitation. Climate Dynamics. 38:985-1001.   10.1007/s00382-011-1038-9   Abstract
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Li, G, Xie SP.  2014.  Tropical Biases in CMIP5 Multimodel Ensemble: The Excessive Equatorial Pacific Cold Tongue and Double ITCZ Problems. Journal of Climate. 27:1765-1780.   10.1175/jcli-d-13-00337.1   AbstractWebsite

Errors of coupled general circulation models (CGCMs) limit their utility for climate prediction and projection. Origins of and feedback for tropical biases are investigated in the historical climate simulations of 18 CGCMs from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), together with the available Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP) simulations. Based on an intermodel empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis of tropical Pacific precipitation, the excessive equatorial Pacific cold tongue and double intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) stand out as the most prominent errors of the current generation of CGCMs. The comparison of CMIP-AMIP pairs enables us to identify whether a given type of errors originates from atmospheric models. The equatorial Pacific cold tongue bias is associated with deficient precipitation and surface easterly wind biases in the western half of the basin in CGCMs, but these errors are absent in atmosphere-only models, indicating that the errors arise from the interaction with the ocean via Bjerknes feedback. For the double ITCZ problem, excessive precipitation south of the equator correlates well with excessive downward solar radiation in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) midlatitudes, an error traced back to atmospheric model simulations of cloud during austral spring and summer. This extratropical forcing of the ITCZ displacements is mediated by tropical ocean-atmosphere interaction and is consistent with recent studies of ocean-atmospheric energy transport balance.

Mei, W, Lien CC, Lin II, Xie SP.  2015.  Tropical cyclone-induced ocean response: A comparative study of the South China Sea and tropical Northwest Pacific*(,+). Journal of Climate. 28:5952-5968.   10.1175/jcli-d-14-00651.1   AbstractWebsite

The thermocline shoals in the South China Sea (SCS) relative to the tropical northwest Pacific Ocean (NWP), as required by geostrophic balance with the Kuroshio. The present study examines the effect of this difference in ocean state on the response of sea surface temperature (SST) and chlorophyll concentration to tropical cyclones (TCs), using both satellite-derived measurements and three-dimensional numerical simulations. In both regions, TC-produced SST cooling strongly depends on TC characteristics (including intensity as measured by the maximum surface wind speed, translation speed, and size). When subject to identical TC forcing, the SST cooling in the SCS is more than 1.5 times that in the NWP, which may partially explain weaker TC intensity on average observed in the SCS. Both a shallower mixed layer and stronger subsurface thermal stratification in the SCS contribute to this regional difference in SST cooling. The mixed layer effect dominates when TCs are weak, fast-moving, and/or small; and for strong and slow-moving TCs or strong and large TCs, both factors are equally important. In both regions, TCs tend to elevate surface chlorophyll concentration. For identical TC forcing, the surface chlorophyll increase in the SCS is around 10 times that in the NWP, a difference much stronger than that in SST cooling. This large regional difference in the surface chlorophyll response is at least partially due to a shallower nutricline and stronger vertical nutrient gradient in the SCS. The effect of regional difference in upper-ocean density stratification on the surface nutrient response is negligible. The total annual primary production increase associated with the TC passage estimated using the vertically generalized production model in the SCS is nearly 3 times that in the NWP (i.e., 6.4 +/- 0.4 x 10(12) versus 2.2 +/- 0.2 x 10(12) g C), despite the weaker TC activity in the SCS.

Saji, NH, Xie SP, Yamagata T.  2006.  Tropical Indian Ocean variability in the IPCC twentieth-century climate simulations. Journal of Climate. 19:4397-4417. Abstract
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Siler, N, Kosaka Y, Xie SP, Li XC.  2017.  Tropical ocean contributions to California's surprisingly dry El Nino of 2015/16. Journal of Climate. 30:10067-10079.   10.1175/jcli-d-17-0177.1   AbstractWebsite

The major El Nino of 2015/16 brought significantly less precipitation to California than previous events of comparable strength, much to the disappointment of residents suffering through the state's fourth consecutive year of severe drought. Here, California's weak precipitation in 2015/16 relative to previous major El Nino events is investigated within a 40-member ensemble of atmosphere-only simulations run with historical sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and constant radiative forcing. The simulations reveal significant differences in both California precipitation and the large-scale atmospheric circulation between 2015/16 and previous strong El Nino events, which are similar to (albeit weaker than) the differences found in observations. Principal component analysis indicates that these ensemble-mean differences were likely related to a pattern of tropical SST variability with a strong signal in the Indian Ocean and western Pacific and a weaker signal in the eastern equatorial Pacific and subtropical North Atlantic. This SST pattern was missed by the majority of forecast models, which could partly explain their erroneous predictions of above-average precipitation in California in 2015/16.

Kosaka, Y, Xie S-P.  2016.  The tropical Pacific as a key pacemaker of the variable rates of global warming. Nature Geosci. advance online publication: Nature Publishing Group   10.1038/ngeo2770   Abstract

Global mean surface temperature change over the past 120 years resembles a rising staircase: the overall warming trend was interrupted by the mid-twentieth-century big hiatus and the warming slowdown since about 1998. The Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation has been implicated in modulations of global mean surface temperatures, but which part of the mode drives the variability in warming rates is unclear. Here we present a successful simulation of the global warming staircase since 1900 with a global ocean–atmosphere coupled model where tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures are forced to follow the observed evolution. Without prescribed tropical Pacific variability, the same model, on average, produces a continual warming trend that accelerates after the 1960s. We identify four events where the tropical Pacific decadal cooling markedly slowed down the warming trend. Matching the observed spatial and seasonal fingerprints we identify the tropical Pacific as a key pacemaker of the warming staircase, with radiative forcing driving the overall warming trend. Specifically, tropical Pacific variability amplifies the first warming epoch of the 1910s–1940s and determines the timing when the big hiatus starts and ends. Our method of removing internal variability from the observed record can be used for real-time monitoring of anthropogenic warming.

Takahashi, H, Su H, Jiang JH, Luo ZJ, Xie SP, Hafner J.  2013.  Tropical water vapor variations during the 2006-2007 and 2009-2010 El Ninos: Satellite observation and GFDL AM2.1 simulation. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 118:8910-8920. AbstractWebsite

Water vapor measurements from Aura Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS, above 300 hPa) and Aqua Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS, below 300 hPa) are analyzed to study the variations of moisture during the 2006-2007 and 2009-2010 El Ninos. The 2006-2007 El Nino is an East Pacific (EP) El Nino, while the 2009-2010 El Nino is a Central Pacific (CP) El Nino or El Nino Modoki. Results show that these two types of El Nino events produce different patterns of water vapor anomalies over the tropical ocean, approximately resembling the cloud anomalies shown in Su and Jiang (2013). Regression of water vapor anomalies onto the Nino-3.4 SST for the A-Train period shows a clear upper tropospheric amplification of the fractional water vapor change, i.e., the ratio of the change in specific humidity to the layer-averaged specific humidity. Furthermore, tropical water vapor anomalies in different circulation regimes are examined. It is shown that the variations of water vapor during the 2006-2007 El Nino are mainly controlled by the thermodynamic component, whereas both dynamic and thermodynamic components control the water vapor anomalies during the 2009-2010 El Nino. GFDL AM2.1 model simulations of water vapor and cloud anomalies for the two El Ninos are compared with the satellite observations. In general, the model approximately reproduces the water vapor anomalies on both zonal and meridional planes but it produces too strong a cloud response in the mid- and lower troposphere. The model fails to capture the dynamic component of water vapor anomalies, particularly over the Indian Ocean.

Liu, JW, Zhang SP, Xie SP.  2013.  Two types of surface wind response to the East China Sea Kuroshio Front. Journal of Climate. 26:8616-8627.   10.1175/jcli-d-12-00092.1   AbstractWebsite

Effects of the sea surface temperature (SST) front along the East China Sea Kuroshio on sea surface winds at different time scales are investigated. In winter and spring, the climatological vector wind is strongest on the SST front while the scalar wind speed reaches a maximum on the warm flank of the front and is collocated with the maximum difference between sea surface temperature and surface air temperature (SST - SAT). The distinction is due to the change in relative importance of two physical processes of SST-wind interaction at different time scales. The SST front-induced sea surface level pressure (SLP) adjustment (SF-SLP) contributes to a strong vector wind above the front on long time scales, consistent with the collocation of baroclinicity in the marine boundary layer and corroborated by the similarity between the thermal wind and observed wind shear between 1000 and 850 hPa. In contrast, the SST modulation of synoptic winds is more evident on the warm flank of the SST front. Large thermal instability of the near-surface layer strengthens temporal synoptic wind perturbations by intensifying vertical mixing, resulting in a scalar wind maximum. The vertical mixing and SF-SLP mechanisms are both at work but manifest more clearly at the synoptic time scale and in the long-term mean, respectively. The cross-frontal variations are 1.5 m s(-1) in both the scalar and vector wind speeds, representing the vertical mixing and SF-SLP effects, respectively. The results illustrate the utility of high-frequency sampling by satellite scatterometers.