Beltrami, H., G. S. Matharoo and J. E. Smerdon, 2015: Impact of borehole depths on reconstructed estimates of ground surface temperature histories and energy storage. Journal of Geophysical Research-Earth Surface, 120(5): 763-778.
Estimates of ground surface temperature changes and continental energy storage from geothermal data have become well-accepted indicators of climatic changes. These estimates are independent contributions to the ensemble of paleoclimatic reconstructions and have been used for the validation of general circulation models, and as a component of the energy budget accounting of the global climate system. Recent global and hemispheric analyses of geothermal data were based on data available in the borehole paleoclimatology database, which contains subsurface temperature profiles from a minimum depth of 200m to about 600m. Because of the nature of heat conduction, different depth ranges contain the record of past and persistent changes in the energy balance between the lower atmosphere and the ground for different time periods. Here we examine the dependency of estimated ground surface temperature histories and the magnitude of the subsurface heat content on the depth of borehole temperature profiles. Our results show that uncertainties in the estimates of the long-term surface temperature are in the range of 0.5K. We conclude that previous estimates of ground surface temperature change remain valid for the period since industrialization, but longer-term estimates are subject to considerable uncertainties. The subsurface heat content shows a larger range of variability arising from differences in depth of the borehole temperature profiles, as well as from differences in the time of data acquisition, spanning four decades. These results indicate that estimates of subsurface heat should be carried out with caution to decrease cumulative errors in any spatial analysis.
Biasutti, M. and R. Seager, 2015: Projected changes in US rainfall erosivity. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 19(6): 2945-2961.
Downscaled rainfall projections from 21 climate models from the CMIP5 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5) archive are used to estimate future changes in rainfall erosivity in the continental Unites States. To estimate erosivity from rainfall in the absence of sub-hourly data, we have used both daily rainfall values and the modified Fournier index - which is based on monthly rainfall accumulation - and derived the scaling relationship between rainfall and erosivity from observational estimates of both.
Chen, D.K., T. Lian, C. B. Fu, M.A. Cane, Y.M. Tang, R. Murtugudde, X.S. Song, Q.Y. Wu and L. Zhou, 2015: Strong influence of westerly wind bursts on El Nino diversity. Nature Geoscience, 8(5): 339-345, Doi 10.1038/Ngeo2399.
Despite the tremendous progress in the theory, observation and prediction of El Nino over the past three decades, the classification of El Nino diversity and the genesis of such diversity are still debated. This uncertainty renders El Nino prediction a continuously challenging task, as manifested by the absence of the large warm event in 2014 that was expected by many. We propose a unified perspective on El Nino diversity as well as its causes, and support our view with a fuzzy clustering analysis and model experiments. Specifically, the interannual variability of sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean can generally be classified into three warm patterns and one cold pattern, which together constitute a canonical cycle of El Nino/La Nina and its different flavours. Although the genesis of the canonical cycle can be readily explained by classic theories, we suggest that the asymmetry, irregularity and extremes of El Nino result from westerly wind bursts, a type of state-dependent atmospheric perturbation in the equatorial Pacific. Westerly wind bursts strongly affect El Nino but not La Nina because of their unidirectional nature. We conclude that properly accounting for the interplay between the canonical cycle and westerly wind bursts may improve El Nino prediction.
Clement, A., K. Bellomo, L. N. Murphy, M. A. Cane, T. Mauritsen, G. Radel and B. Stevens, 2015: The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation without a role for ocean circulation. Science, 350(6258): 320-+.
The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) is a major mode of climate variability with important societal impacts. Most previous explanations identify the driver of the AMO as the ocean circulation, specifically the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). Here we show that the main features of the observed AMO are reproduced in models where the ocean heat transport is prescribed and thus cannot be the driver. Allowing the ocean circulation to interact with the atmosphere does not significantly alter the characteristics of the AMO in the current generation of climate models. These results suggest that the AMO is the response to stochastic forcing from the mid-latitude atmospheric circulation, with thermal coupling playing a role in the tropics. In this view, the AMOC and other ocean circulation changes would be largely a response to, not a cause of, the AMO.
Dwyer, J. G., S. J. Camargo, A. H. Sobel, M. Biasutti, K. A. Emanuel, G. A. Vecchi, M. Zhao and M. K. Tippett, 2015: Projected Twenty-First-Century Changes in the Length of the Tropical Cyclone Season. Journal of Climate, 28(15): 6181-6192.
This study investigates projected changes in the length of the tropical cyclone season due to greenhouse gas increases. Two sets of simulations are analyzed, both of which capture the relevant features of the observed annual cycle of tropical cyclones in the recent historical record. Both sets use output from the general circulation models (GCMs) of either phase 3 or phase 5 of the CMIP suite (CMIP3 and CMIP5, respectively). In one set, downscaling is performed by randomly seeding incipient vortices into the large-scale atmospheric conditions simulated by each GCM and simulating the vortices' evolution in an axisymmetric dynamical tropical cyclone model; in the other set, the GCMs' sea surface temperature (SST) is used as the boundary condition for a high-resolution global atmospheric model (HiRAM). The downscaling model projects a longer season (in the late twenty-first century compared to the twentieth century) in most basins when using CMIP5 data but a slightly shorter season using CMIP3. HiRAM with either CMIP3 or CMIP5 SST anomalies projects a shorter tropical cyclone season in most basins. Season length is measured by the number of consecutive days that the mean cyclone count is greater than a fixed threshold, but other metrics give consistent results. The projected season length changes are also consistent with the large-scale changes, as measured by a genesis index of tropical cyclones. The season length changes are mostly explained by an idealized year-round multiplicative change in tropical cyclone frequency, but additional changes in the transition months also contribute.
Guan, K. Y., B. Sultan, M. Biasutti, C. Baron and D. B. Lobell, 2015: What aspects of future rainfall changes matter for crop yields in West Africa? Geophysical Research Letters, 42(19): 8001-8010.
How rainfall arrives, in terms of its frequency, intensity, the timing and duration of rainy season, may have a large influence on rainfed agriculture. However, a thorough assessment of these effects is largely missing. This study combines a new synthetic rainfall model and two independently validated crop models (APSIM and SARRA-H) to assess sorghum yield response to possible shifts in seasonal rainfall characteristics in West Africa. We find that shifts in total rainfall amount primarily drive the rainfall-related crop yield change, with less relevance to intraseasonal rainfall features. However, dry regions (total annual rainfall below 500mm/yr) have a high sensitivity to rainfall frequency and intensity, and more intense rainfall events have greater benefits for crop yield than more frequent rainfall. Delayed monsoon onset may negatively impact yields. Our study implies that future changes in seasonal rainfall characteristics should be considered in designing specific crop adaptations in West Africa.
Kavanaugh, M. T., F. N. Abdala, H. Ducklow, D. Glover, W. Fraser, D. Martinson, S. Stammerjohn, O. Schofield and S. C. Doney, 2015: Effect of continental shelf canyons on phytoplankton biomass and community composition along the western Antarctic Peninsula. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 524: 11 - 26, doi:10.3354/meps11189.
The western Antarctic Peninsula is experiencing dramatic climate change as warm, wet conditions expand poleward and interact with local physics and topography, causing differential regional effects on the marine ecosystem. At local scales, deep troughs (or canyons) bisect the continental shelf and act as conduits for warm Upper Circumpolar Deep Water, with reduced seasonal sea ice coverage, and provide a reservoir of macro- and micronutrients. Shoreward of many canyon heads are Adelie penguin breeding colonies; it is hypothesized that these locations reflect improved or more predictable access to higher biological productivity overlying the canyons. To synoptically assess the potential impacts of regional bathymetry on the marine ecosystem, 4 major canyons were identified along a latitudinal gradient west of the Antarctic Peninsula using a high-resolution bathymetric database. Biological-physical dynamics above and adjacent to canyons were compared using in situ pigments and satellite-derived sea surface temperature, sea ice and ocean color variables, including chlorophyll a (chl a) and fucoxanthin derived semi-empirically from remote sensing reflectance. Canyons exhibited higher sea surface temperature and reduced sea ice coverage relative to adjacent shelf areas. In situ and satellite-derived pigment patterns indicated increased total phytoplankton and diatom biomass over the canyons (by up to 22 and 35%, respectively), as well as increases in diatom relative abundance (fucoxanthin: chl a). While regional heterogeneity is apparent, canyons appear to support a phytoplankton community that is conducive to both grazing by krill and enhanced vertical export, although it cannot compensate for decreased biomass and diatom relative abundance during low sea ice conditions.
Li, X.Q. and M. Ting, 2015: Recent and future changes in the Asian monsoon-ENSO relationship: Natural or forced? Geophysical Research Letters, 42(9): 3502-3512, doi:10.1002/2015GL063557.
The Asian monsoon-ENSO (El Nino-Southern Oscillation) relationship in the 20th and 21st centuries is examined using observations and Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) model simulations. CMIP5 models can simulate the ENSO-monsoon spatial structure reasonably well when using the multimodel mean. Running correlations show prominent decadal variability of the ENSO-monsoon relationship in observations. The modeled ENSO-monsoon relation shows large intermodel spread, indicating large variations across the model ensemble. The anthropogenically forced component of ENSO-monsoon relationship is separated from the naturally varying component based on a signal-to-noise maximizing empirical orthogonal function analysis using global sea surface temperature (SST). Results show that natural variability plays a dominant role in the varied ENSO-monsoon relationship during the 20th century. In the 21st century, the forced component is dominated by enhanced monsoon rainfall associated with SST warming, which may contribute to a slightly weakened ENSO-monsoon relation in the future.
Li, X.Q., M. Ting, C.H. Li and N. Henderson, 2015: Mechanisms of Asian Summer Monsoon Changes in Response to Anthropogenic Forcing in CMIP5 Models. Journal of Climate, 28(10): 4107-4125.
Changes of the Asian summer monsoon in response to anthropogenic forcing are examined using observations and phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) multimodel, multirealization ensemble. In the twentieth century, CMIP5 models indicate a predominantly drying Asian monsoon, while in the twenty-first century under the representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) scenario, monsoon rainfall enhances across the entire Asian domain. The thermodynamic and dynamic mechanisms causing the changes are evaluated using specific humidity and winds, as well as the moisture budget. The drying trend in the CMIP5 historical simulations and the wetting trend in the RCP8.5 projections can be explained by the relative importance of dynamic and thermodynamic contributions to the total mean moisture convergence. While the thermodynamic mechanism dominates in the future, the historical rainfall changes are dominated by the changes in circulation. The relative contributions of aerosols and greenhouse gases (GHGs) on the historical monsoon change are further examined using CMIP5 single-forcing simulations. Rainfall reduces under aerosol forcing and increases under GHG forcing. Aerosol forcing dominates over the greenhouse effect during the historical period, leading to the general drying trend in the all-forcing simulations. While the thermodynamic change of mean moisture convergence in the all-forcing case is dominated by the GHG forcing, the dynamic change of mean moisture convergence in the all-forcing case is dominated by the aerosol forcing.
Pal, I., A. W. Robertson, U. Lall and M. A. Cane, 2015: Modeling winter rainfall in Northwest India using a hidden Markov model: understanding occurrence of different states and their dynamical connections. Climate Dynamics, 44(3-4): 1003-1015.
A multiscale-modeling framework for daily rainfall is considered and diagnostic results are presented for an application to the winter season in Northwest India. The daily rainfall process is considered to follow a hidden Markov model (HMM), with the hidden states assumed to be an unknown random function of slowly varying climatic modulation of the winter jet stream and moisture transport dynamics. The data used are from 14 stations over Satluj River basin in winter (December-January-February-March). The period considered is 1977/78-2005/06. The HMM identifies four discrete weather states, which are used to describe daily rainfall variability over study region. Each state was found to be associated with a distinct atmospheric circulation pattern, with the driest and drier states, State 1 and 2 respectively, characterized by a lack of synoptic wave activity. In contrast, the wetter and wettest states, States 3 and 4 respectively, are characterized by a zonally oriented wave train extending across Eurasia between 20N and 40N, identified with 'western disturbances' (WD). The occurrence of State 4 is strongly conditioned by the El Nino and Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) phenomena in winter, which is demonstrated using large-scale correlation maps based on mean sea level pressure and sea surface temperature. This suggests that there is a tendency of higher frequency of the wet days and intense WD activities in winter during El Nino and positive IOD years. These findings, derived from daily rainfall station records, help clarify the sequence of Northern Hemisphere mid-latitude storms bringing winter rainfall over Northwest India, and their association with potentially predictable low frequency modes on seasonal time scales and longer.
Rodriguez-Fonseca, B., E. Mohino, C. R. Mechoso, C. Caminade, M. Biasutti, M. Gaetani, J. Garcia-Serrano, E. K. Vizy, K. Cook, Y. K. Xue, I. Polo, T. Losada, L. Druyan, B. Fontaine, J. Bader, F. J. Doblas-Reyes, L. Goddard, S. Janicot, A. Arribas, W. Lau, A. Colman, M. Vellinga, D. P. Rowell, F. Kucharski and A. Voldoire, 2015: Variability and Predictability of West African Droughts: A Review on the Role of Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies. Journal of Climate, 28(10): 4034-4060.
The Sahel experienced a severe drought during the 1970s and 1980s after wet periods in the 1950s and 1960s. Although rainfall partially recovered since the 1990s, the drought had devastating impacts on society. Most studies agree that this dry period resulted primarily from remote effects of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies amplified by local land surface-atmosphere interactions. This paper reviews advances made during the last decade to better understand the impact of global SST variability on West African rainfall at interannual to decadal time scales. At interannual time scales, a warming of the equatorial Atlantic and Pacific/Indian Oceans results in rainfall reduction over the Sahel, and positive SST anomalies over the Mediterranean Sea tend to be associated with increased rainfall. At decadal time scales, warming over the tropics leads to drought over the Sahel, whereas warming over the North Atlantic promotes increased rainfall. Prediction systems have evolved from seasonal to decadal forecasting. The agreement among future projections has improved from CMIP3 to CMIP5, with a general tendency for slightly wetter conditions over the central part of the Sahel, drier conditions over the western part, and a delay in the monsoon onset. The role of the Indian Ocean, the stationarity of teleconnections, the determination of the leader ocean basin in driving decadal variability, the anthropogenic role, the reduction of the model rainfall spread, and the improvement of some model components are among the most important remaining questions that continue to be the focus of current international projects.
Seager, R., M. Hoerling, S. Schubert, H. L. Wang, B. Lyon, A. Kumar, J. Nakamura and N. Henderson, 2015: Causes of the 2011-14 California Drought. Journal of Climate, 28(18): 6997-7024, DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00860.1.
The causes of the California drought during November-April winters of 2011/12-2013/14 are analyzed using observations and ensemble simulations with seven atmosphere models forced by observed SSTs. Historically, dry California winters are most commonly associated with a ridge off the west coast but no obvious SST forcing. Wet winters are most commonly associated with a trough off the west coast and an El Nino event. These attributes of dry and wet winters are captured by many of the seven models. According to the models, SST forcing can explain up to a third of California winter precipitation variance. SST forcing was key to sustaining a high pressure ridge over the west coast and suppressing precipitation during the three winters. In 2011/12 this was a response to a La Nina event, whereas in 2012/13 and 2013/14 it appears related to a warm west-cool east tropical Pacific SST pattern. All models contain a mode of variability linking such tropical Pacific SST anomalies to a wave train with a ridge off the North American west coast. This mode explains less variance than ENSO and Pacific decadal variability, and its importance in 2012/13 and 2013/14 was unusual. The models from phase 5 of CMIP (CMIP5) project rising greenhouse gases to cause changes in California all-winter precipitation that are very small compared to recent drought anomalies. However, a long-term warming trend likely contributed to surface moisture deficits during the drought. As such, the precipitation deficit during the drought was dominated by natural variability, a conclusion framed by discussion of differences between observed and modeled tropical SST trends.
Smerdon, J. E., B. I. Cook, E. R. Cook and R. Seager, 2015: Bridging Past and Future Climate across Paleoclimatic Reconstructions, Observations, and Models: A Hydroclimate Case Study. Journal of Climate, 28(8): 3212-3231.
Potential biases in tree-ring reconstructed Palmer drought severity index (PDSI) are evaluated using Thornthwaite (TH), Penman-Monteith (PM), and self-calibrating Penman-Monteith (SC) PDSI in three diverse regions of the United States and tree-ring chronologies from the North American drought atlas (NADA). Minimal differences are found between the three PDSI reconstructions and all compare favorably to independently reconstructed Thornthwaite-based PDSI from the NADA. Reconstructions are bridged with model-derived PDSI_TH and PDSI_PM, which both closely track modeled soil moisture (near surface and full column) during the twentieth century. Differences between modeled moisture-balance metrics only emerge in twenty-first-century projections. These differences confirm the tendency of PDSI_TH to overestimate drying when temperatures exceed the range of the normalization interval; the more physical accounting of PDSI_PM compares well with modeled soil moisture in the projection interval. Remaining regional differences in the secular behavior of projected soil moisture and PDSI_PM are interpreted in terms of underlying physical processes and temporal sampling. Results demonstrate the continued utility of PDSI as a metric of surface moisture balance while additionally providing two recommendations for future work: 1) PDSI_PM (or similar moisture-balance metrics) compare well to modeled soil moisture and are an appropriate means of representing soil-moisture balance in model simulations and 2) although PDSI_PMis more physically appropriate than PDSI_TH, the latter metric does not bias tree-ring reconstructions of past hydroclimate variability and, as such, reconstructions targeting PDSI_TH can be used with confidence in data-model comparisons. These recommendations and the collective results of this study thus provide a framework for comparing hydroclimate variability within paleoclimatic, observational, and modeled data.
The database was updated today.