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Qiong Zhang

About me

Aceademic employment
2013 - today  Asso. professor, Department of Physical Geography, SU
2007 - 2012   Research scientist, Department of Meteorology, SU
2004 - 2007   Asso. professor, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, CAS, Beijing
2001 - 2003   Postdoc, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
1999 - 2000   Postdoc, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, CAS, Beijing
Community service
Since 2021, Deputy head of the Department of Physical Geography, SU
Since 2019, Climate coordinator in Bolin Centre for Climate Research
2013-2019, Co-leader of the Bolin centre research area 5
Since 2014, Lead the WG on millennium climate model studies in EC-Earth 
Since 2015, Subject editor of Tellus B
Since 2021, Asspciate editor of Advance in Atmospheric Sciences



Climate model simulations, GE7077, 7.5 HP

Course description 
The course will teach the knowledge of the climate models, model experiment design, as well as tools and skills on model output analysis. The students will learn to analyse the model data in different climate scenarios from the past to future, focus on understanding mechanisms behind the climate change and climate variability. The learning activities include lectures, research seminars, group exercise and results presentations. Several invited scientists give lectures on topics such as ENSO and NAO variability, glacial-interglacial transition and abrupt change, future climate change etc. 
Course plan 
Week1: Basic knowledge on model and data
Week2: CMIP6 model simulations and future climate changes
Week3: Past changes in atmospheric circulation, extropical precipitation patterns and monsoon
Week4: Abrupt climate change during deglaciation and extreme events
Week5: Run a climate model
Course schedule
2021, 23 March - 30 April, master course at SU.
2020, 4 May-5 June, master course, in distance due to Coronavirus pandemic. 
2019, 6 May-7 June, master course at SU.
2018, 18-30 June, summer course at ITP/CAS, Beijing, China. 
2017, 17-29 June, summer course at Lanzhou Univeristy, China. 


My research group is using the earth system model EC-Earth to understand the climate change and climate varaibility from the past to future. In past years we enjoy working with multidisciplinary scientists within Bolin Cetnre and internationally, and have established close collabrations with the paleo-proxy data experts, climatologists, statisticians, historians and archeologists.

Climate model simulations with EC-Earth

EC-Earth is a fully coupled high-resolution (~125 km)  earth system model. Avaiblable simulations: Pre-industrial (1850AD), Last millennium (850 -1850 AD) , mid-Holocene (6000 years BP), Last Glacial Maximum (21,000 years BP), Last Inter-Glacial (127,000 years BP),  mid-Pliocene (3.2 million years BP) as well as a set of  ‘Green Sahara’ sensitivity experiments under pre-industrial and mid-Holocene climate conditions. We are now running the CMIP6/PMIP4 experiments with EC-Earth 3.3. Anyone is interested to explore your questions by using these simulation data, please contact me.

Stable water isotope measurements and modelling

Most of the past climate information are obtained from stable water isotopes signals recorded in natural archives such as Greenland and Antarctic ice cores, or speleothem in caves. Now we attempt to combine the modern stable water isotopes measurements from space to ground, together with atmospheric modelling, to further understand the physical processes of hydrological cycle in climate system. This will help us to explain what happened in past as shown in paleo-proxy isotope data. We are implementing the stable water isotope into our atmsophric component OpenIFS, to facilitate our understanding on hydrological cycle.

Ongoing research project

  • Simulating green Sahara with an earth system model, 2018-2021, VR
  • Past-present-future monsoon variability revealed by stable water isotopes, 2018-2021, VR

Current group members (funding source) and research topics

  • Sonia Meherzi, intership, French Meteorology University, July-August 2021. Climate variability in EC-Earth last millennium simulations.
  • Katherine Power, Master stduent, 2020-2021. Regional and local impacts of the ENSO and IOD events on the Indian summer monsoon. 
  • Josefine Axelsson, PhD student (VR) 2019-2023. Monsoon variability revealed by stable water isotopes.
  • Ellen Berntell, PhD student (VR) 2018-2022. African monsoon varaibilty.
  • Lu Liu, visiting PhD student (CSC) 2020-2022. Extreme climate during Holocene.

Previous members

  • Jie Chen, visiting PhD student (CSC), 2019-2021. Variability of Asian monsoon northern boundary.
  • Qiang Li, scientific programmer (Bolin Centre). 2013-2020. EC-Earth simulations for CMIP6/PMIP4. Now work in the EuroCC National Competence Center Sweden (ENCCS).
  • Qiang (Jenson) Zhang, scientific programmer (VR), 2016-2020. Stable water isotope in OpenIFS, EC-Earth simulations.
  • Wesley de Nooijer, master student, 2019-2020. Arctic amplification in past warm periods.
  • Amet Jeng Sey, master student, 2019-2020. Sahalian rainfall variability and effects on agriculture.
  • Kaiqi Chen, visiting PhD student, 2019.12-2020.02. Beijing Normal Univeristy, South Asian monsoon during two interglacials. 
  • Yan Zhang, visiting scientist (CSC) 2019-2020. Arctic amplification and extreme weather. Research scientist in National Satellite Meteorological Center, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, China.
  • Xueyuan Kuang, visiting scientist (CSC) 2019-2020. Asian monsoon variability. Associate professor in Nanjing University, Nanjing, China.
  • Charlotta Högberg, PhD student (SNSB) 2013-2020. Stable water isotopes measured from Satellite.
  • Zixuan Han, visting PhD student (CSC) 2018-2020. Global hydrological cycle. Now lecturer in Hohai Univeristy, Nanjing, China.
  • Maartje Sanne Kuilman, PhD student (SU faculty fund) 2015-2019. Climate variability and feedbacks in middle atmosphere. Now scientist in ECMWF, Reading, UK.
  • Tongmei Wang, Researcher (50% SNSB and 50% SU faculty fund) 2015-2019. Stratospheric water vapor and related atmospheric dynamics and physics.
  • Jingling Piao, visiting scientist (STINT), Sep-Nov 2018. Central Asia climate variability. Now research scientist in Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing.
  • Jianqiu Zheng, visiting scientist (CSC) 2016-2017. Arctic amplification in Pliocene. Now assistant professor in University of Science and Technology of China.
  • Abubakr Salih Babiker, PhD (SU faculty fund) 2010-2015. Sahelian rainfall variability. Now research scientist at IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC) in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Maxime Ballarotta, postdoc (Bolin Centre) 2013-2015. Now research Engineer in Spatial Altimetry & Oceanography, Toulouse, France.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Reconstructing past vegetation with Random Forest Machine Learning, sacrificing the dynamic response for robust results

    Amelie Lindgren (et al.).

    Vegetation is an important feature in the Earth system, providing a direct link between the biosphere and atmosphere. As such, a representative vegetation pattern is needed to accurately simulate climate. We attempt to reconstruct past and present vegetation with a data driven approach, to test if this allows us to create robust global and regional vegetation patterns. The motivation for this stems from the possibility of avoiding circular arguments when studying past time periods where vegetation is used to reconstruct climate, and climate is used to construct vegetation. By using the Random Forest machine learning tool, we train the vegetation reconstruction with available biomized pollen data of present and past conditions and are able to produce reasonable broad-scale vegetation patterns for the Pre-Industrial and the Mid-Holocene together with a few modeled climate variables. We test the methods robustness by introducing a systematic temperature bias based on existing climate model spread and compare the result with that of LPJ-GUESS, a process-based dynamic global vegetation model. Results prove that the Random Forest approach is able to produce robust patterns for periods and regions well constrained by evidence, but fails when evidence is scarce. The robustness is achieved by sacrificing a dynamic vegetation response to a changing climate.

    Read more about Reconstructing past vegetation with Random Forest Machine Learning, sacrificing the dynamic response for robust results
  • Response of stratospheric water vapour to CO2 doubling in WACCM

    2020. Tongmei Wang (et al.). Climate Dynamics 54, 4877-4889


    Stratospheric water vapour (SWV), as a greenhouse gas, modulates the radiative energy budget of the climate system. It is sensitive to, and plays a significant role in the climate change. In this study, we investigate the SWV response to CO2 increase with the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM). In addition, we study its possible feedback on stratospheric temperature and relevant mechanisms. In our model experiments, the CO2 concentration and sea surface temperature (SSTs) are changed at the same time, as well as separately, to enable separating the radiative-photochemical and dynamical response to CO2 doubling scenarios. The model results show that the response of SWV to CO2 doubling is dominated by the changes in the SSTs, with an increase of the SWV concentration by similar to 6 to 10% in most of the stratosphere and more than 10% in the lower stratosphere, except for winter pole in the lower stratosphere, where the CO2 doubling decreases water vapour. The increase of SWV is mostly due to a dynamical response to the warm SSTs. Doubled CO2 induces warm SSTs globally and further leads to moist troposphere and a warmer tropical and subtropical tropopause, resulting in more water vapour entering stratosphere from below. As a greenhouse gas, large increase of SWV in the lower stratosphere, in turn, affects the stratospheric temperature, resulting in a warming of the tropical and subtropical lower stratosphere, offsetting the cooling caused by CO2 doubling.

    Read more about Response of stratospheric water vapour to CO2 doubling in WACCM
  • Tropical water vapour in the lower stratosphere and its relationship to tropical/extratropical dynamical processes in ERA5

    2020. Tongmei Wang (et al.). Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society


    Stratospheric water vapour (SWV), in spite of its low concentration in the stratosphere as compared to the troposphere, contributes significantly to the surface energy budget and can have an influence on the surface climate. This study investigates the dynamical processes that determine SWV on interannual to decadal time-scales. First, we evaluate two SWV reanalysis products and show that SWV is better represented in a new-generation reanalysis product, ERA5, than in its predecessor, ERA-Interim. In particular, it is shown that SWV in ERA5 is highly consistent with observational data obtained from the SPARC Data Initiative Multi-Instrument Mean (SDI MIM). Second, we investigate the variability of tropical SWV and its relationship to dynamical stratospheric variables. The analyses show that the interannual variability in the tropical lower-stratospheric water vapour is closely linked to the tropical Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO). When westerlies occupy the middle stratosphere and easterlies the lower stratosphere, a decrease is observed in lower-stratospheric water vapour due to a colder tropical tropopause and a QBO-induced enhanced residual circulation. On decadal time-scales, the composite analysis of the boreal winter in two typical periods shows that less SWV is related to a warm anomaly in the North Atlantic sea-surface temperature, which leads to stronger upward propagation of planetary wave activity at high latitudes, a weaker polar vortex and an enhanced residual circulation. The opposite occurs during periods with higher concentrations of SWV.

    Read more about Tropical water vapour in the lower stratosphere and its relationship to tropical/extratropical dynamical processes in ERA5
  • Northward extension of the East Asian summer monsoon during the mid-Holocene

    2020. Jinling Piao (et al.). Global and Planetary Change 184


    Previous studies based on multiple paleoclimate archives suggested that during the mid-Holocene (MH, similar to 6000 years before present day), the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) had a prominent intensification and northward extension. However, current climate model simulations with orbital forcing alone present an underestimation of the magnitude of changes in the EASM. In the current work, we show that considering a vegetated and dust-reduced Sahara in the MH can significantly strengthen the EASM intensity and expand its northernmost boundary northward compared to the results with orbital forcing alone. The vegetation change over the Sahara is the dominant factor for the variation in the EASM, while the dust reduction plays a smaller role. The vegetated Sahara causes a westward shift of the Walker circulation, accompanied with enhancement of the western Pacific subtropical high (WPSH), which then results in a strengthened EASM. On one hand, the change in the Walker circulation induces decreased rainfall over the western equatorial Pacific, intensifying the WPSH through the Gill-Matsuno response. On the other hand, the shift in the Walker circulation is associated with a stronger local Hadley circulation, reinforcing the WPSH. Finally, our results show that the westward expansion of the WPSH is mainly caused by the local strengthening of the Hadley circulation.

    Read more about Northward extension of the East Asian summer monsoon during the mid-Holocene
  • The changes in ENSO-induced tropical Pacific precipitation variability in the past warm and cold climates from the EC-Earth simulations

    2020. Zixuan Han (et al.). Climate Dynamics


    The El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is one of the most significant climate variability signals. Studying the changes in ENSO-induced precipitation variability (ENSO precipitation) in the past climate offers a possibility to a better understanding of how they may change under future climate conditions. This study uses simulations performed with the European community Earth-System Model (EC-Earth) to investigate the relative contributions of dynamic effect (the circulation anomalies together with the climatological specific humidity) and thermodynamic effect (the specific humidity anomalies together with the climatological circulation) on the changes in ENSO precipitation in the past warm and cold climates, represented by the Pliocene and the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), respectively. The results show that the changes in ENSO precipitation are intensified (weakened) over the tropical western Pacific but weakened (intensified) over the tropical central Pacific in Pliocene (LGM) compared with the pre-industrial (PI) simulation. Based on the decomposed moisture budget equation, these changes in ENSO precipitation patterns are highly related to the dynamic effect. The mechanism can be understood as follows: the zonal gradient of the mean sea surface temperature (SST) over the tropical Indo-Pacific is increased (reduced) during the Pliocene (LGM), leading to the strengthening (weakening) of Pacific Walker Circulation as well as a westward (eastward) shift. In the Pliocene, the westward shift of Walker Circulation results in an increased (decreased) ENSO-induced low-level vertical velocity variability in the tropical western Pacific (central Pacific), and, in turn, favoring convergent (divergent) moisture transport through a dynamic process, and then causing intensified (weakened) ENSO precipitation there. The opposite mechanism exists in LGM. These results suggest that changes in the zonal SST gradient over tropical Indo-Pacific under different climate conditions determine the changes in ENSO precipitation through a dynamic process.

    Read more about The changes in ENSO-induced tropical Pacific precipitation variability in the past warm and cold climates from the EC-Earth simulations
  • Origin of the spatial consistency of summer precipitation variability between the Mongolian Plateau and the mid-latitude East Asian summer monsoon region

    2020. Jie Chen (et al.). Science China. Earth Sciences 63 (8), 1199-1208


    The Mongolian Plateau (MP) is located in the eastern part of arid Central Asia (ACA). Climatically, much of the MP is dominated by the westerly circulation and has an arid and semi-arid climate; however, the eastern part of the MP is also influenced by the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) and has a humid and semi-humid climate. Several studies have shown that precipitation variability in the MP differs from that in western ACA but is consistent with that in the EASM region. Here we use monthly precipitation data for 1979-2016 to characterize and determine the origin of the summer precipitation variability of the MP and the EASM region. The results show that the MP and the mid-latitude EASM region exhibit a consistent pattern of precipitation variability on interannual and decadal timescales; specifically, the consistent regions are the MP and North and Northeast China. We further investigated the physical mechanisms responsible for the consistent interdecadal precipitation variability between the MP and the mid-latitude EASM region, and found that the mid-latitude wave train over Eurasia, with positive (negative) geopotential height anomalies over the North Atlantic and ACA and negative (positive) geopotential height anomalies over Europe and the MP, is the key factor responsible for the consistency of precipitation variability in the MP and the mid-latitude EASM region. The positive anomalies over the North Atlantic and ACA and negative anomalies over Europe and the MP would enhance the transport of westerly and monsoon moisture to the MP and North and Northeast China. They could also strengthen the Northeast Asian low, enhance the EASM, and trigger the anomalous ascending motion over the MP which promotes precipitation in the MP and in the mid-latitude EASM region. Overall, our results help explain the spatial variations of paleo-precipitation/humidity reconstructions in East Asia and clarify the reasons for the consistency of the regional climate.

    Read more about Origin of the spatial consistency of summer precipitation variability between the Mongolian Plateau and the mid-latitude East Asian summer monsoon region
  • Structure of Cyclonic Precipitation in the Northern Pacific Storm Track Measured by GPM DPR

    2020. Aoqi Zhang (et al.). Journal of Hydrometeorology 21 (2), 227-240


    Despite the long existence of theoretical studies, few statistical studies of precipitation characteristics on the northern Pacific storm track have been reported due to lack of observation. Using data from GPM DPR and ERA-Interim, we examined the precipitation features of extratropical cyclones in the northern Pacific storm-track region. Extratropical cyclones were classified into four categories including developing, mature, dissipating, and short-term based on their life stages. Our results show that extratropical cyclones of all categories had a comma rainband and precipitation mostly occurred to the east of the cyclonic center. The extratropical cyclones promote precipitation to the east of their centers, but suppress precipitation to the west. Precipitation to the east of the extratropical cyclones had larger and more condensed droplets, a stronger intensity, and a higher rain top than the local seasonal average, while the opposite characteristics were seen to the west. Our results suggest that the different types of vertical air motion and moisture content in these two regions induced by the frontal structure of extratropical cyclones play important roles in the different impact of extratropical cyclones. Furthermore, the different life stages of extratropical cyclones had different degrees of impact on precipitation: the highest impact in the developing stage, followed by the mature stage, and the weakest impact in the dissipating stage.

    Read more about Structure of Cyclonic Precipitation in the Northern Pacific Storm Track Measured by GPM DPR
  • West Asian climate during the last millennium according to the EC-Earth model

    2020. M. P. Karami (et al.). Canadian journal of earth sciences (Print) 57 (1), 102-113


    West Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions to ongoing climate change but has been poorly investigated. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the impact of anthropogenic greenhouse gas, natural forcing, and internal climate variability on temperature and rainfall in this region. In this study, we focus on the climate of West Asia during the last millennium by using a transient simulation of the global earth system model EC-Earth (v3.1). The model performs well in terms of present-day temperature and precipitation patterns and their regional averages. Time series of yearly-mean precipitation and temperature of West Asia show that precipitation increases until the start of the Little Ice Age (1450-1850 CE) and subsequently decreases, whereas temperature shows a cooling trend during the entire last millennium. We first discuss the model output data for climate trends during two periods, 850-1450 CE and 1450-1850 CE. In 850-1450 CE, the largest wetting trend occurred in the eastern regions to the north of the Persian Gulf because of a westward shift of the Indian precipitation core and more moisture transport from the Arabian Sea. The precipitation trend in 1450-1850 CE had a different pattern with a drying trend in the west of the Caspian Sea and overall getting less wet compared with the first period. Temperature showed cooling trends for both periods with the largest values happening in the northern regions. The North Atlantic sea surface temperature cooling and the subsequent change in atmospheric circulation played a role in the wetting and cooling of West Asia. In the second part of the study, we remove the trends and discuss the multi-clecadal variability of West Asian climate. It was found that Atlantic multi-decadal and Pacific decadal oscillations strongly contributed to West Asian temperature variability. For West Asian precipitation variability, we found remote connections with the Nordic seas and tropical Pacific Ocean.

    Read more about West Asian climate during the last millennium according to the EC-Earth model
  • Hydroclimate in the Pamirs Was Driven by Changes in Precipitation-Evaporation Seasonality Since the Last Glacial Period

    2019. Bernhard Aichner (et al.). Geophysical Research Letters 46 (23), 13972-13983


    The Central Asian Pamir Mountains (Pamirs) are a high-altitude region sensitive to climatic change, with only few paleoclimatic records available. To examine the glacial-interglacial hydrological changes in the region, we analyzed the geochemical parameters of a 31-kyr record from Lake Karakul and performed a set of experiments with climate models to interpret the results. delta D values of terrestrial biomarkers showed insolation-driven trends reflecting major shifts of water vapor sources. For aquatic biomarkers, positive delta D shifts driven by changes in precipitation seasonality were observed at ca. 31-30, 28-26, and 17-14 kyr BP. Multiproxy paleoecological data and modelling results suggest that increased water availability, induced by decreased summer evaporation, triggered higher lake levels during those episodes, possibly synchronous to northern hemispheric rapid climate events. We conclude that seasonal changes in precipitation-evaporation balance significantly influenced the hydrological state of a large waterbody such as Lake Karakul, while annual precipitation amount and inflows remained fairly constant.

    Read more about Hydroclimate in the Pamirs Was Driven by Changes in Precipitation-Evaporation Seasonality Since the Last Glacial Period
  • Agreement between reconstructed and modeled boreal precipitation of the Last Interglacial

    2019. Paolo Scussolini (et al.). Science Advances 5 (11)


    The last extended time period when climate may have been warmer than today was during the Last Interglacial (LIG; ca. 129 to 120 thousand years ago). However, a global view of LIG precipitation is lacking. Here, seven new LIG climate models are compared to the first global database of proxies for LIG precipitation. In this way, models are assessed in their ability to capture important hydroclimatic processes during a different climate. The models can reproduce the proxy-based positive precipitation anomalies from the preindustrial period over much of the boreal continents. Over the Southern Hemisphere, proxy-model agreement is partial. In models, LIG boreal monsoons have 42% wider area than in the preindustrial and produce 55% more precipitation and 50% more extreme precipitation. Austral monsoons are weaker. The mechanisms behind these changes are consistent with stronger summer radiative forcing over boreal high latitudes and with the associated higher temperatures during the LIG.

    Read more about Agreement between reconstructed and modeled boreal precipitation of the Last Interglacial
  • Thermodynamic and dynamic effects of increased moisture sources over the Tropical Indian Ocean in recent decades

    2019. Zixuan Han (et al.). Climate Dynamics 53 (11), 7081-7096


    In the present work, the mechanisms for the changes in moisture sources (evaporation minus precipitation; EmP) during boreal summer (May-September) are explored over the tropical Indian Ocean during 1979-2016. We apply a moisture budget analysis to quantify the thermodynamic and dynamic effects. Our results show that the EmP in the tropical central-eastern and southwestern Indian Oceans experienced significant increasing trends during boreal summer. The increased EmP in the tropical central-eastern Indian Ocean is due to the enhanced dynamic divergence (account for approximately 51%), while a stronger dynamic advection contributes more moisture supply to the southwestern Indian Ocean (account for approximately 34%). We find that during recent decades, the enhanced east-west thermal gradient in the Pacific strengthens the Walker Circulation, which leads to a westward shift in convection over the Indian Ocean warm pool, resulting in weakened convection and ascent over the tropical central-eastern Indian Ocean. The weakened convection leads to an anomalous low-level atmospheric divergent circulation, which intensifies the dynamic divergence contributing to the enhanced EmP over the tropical central-eastern Indian Ocean. Additionally, the warming climate during recent decades also increases the land-sea thermal contrast in the vicinity of the Indian Ocean, which enhances the southeastern wind in the low-level troposphere and leads to an enhanced EmP over the southwestern Indian Ocean.

    Read more about Thermodynamic and dynamic effects of increased moisture sources over the Tropical Indian Ocean in recent decades
  • Century-scale temperature variability and onset of industrial-era warming in the Eastern Tibetan Plateau

    2019. Guobao Xu (et al.). Climate Dynamics 53 (7-8), 4569-4590


    To improve our understanding of climate variability in the Tibetan Plateau (TP) and its sensitivity to external forcings, recent temperature changes need to be placed in a long-term historical context. Here, we present two tree-ring based temperature reconstructions: a 1003-year (1000-2002 CE) annual temperature reconstruction for the northeastern TP (NETP) based on seven series and a 522-year (1489-2010 CE) summer (June-July-August) temperature reconstruction for the southeastern TP (SETP) based on 11 series. Our reconstructions show six centuries of generally warm NETP temperatures (1000-1586 CE), followed by a transition to cooler temperatures (1587-1887 CE for NETP and 1588-1930 CE for SETP). The transition from the Medieval Climate Anomaly to the Little Ice Age thus happened in the 1580s in NETP and SETP, which is about 150 years later than in larger-scale (e.g. Asia and the Northern Hemisphere) temperature reconstructions. We found that TP temperature variability, especially in SETP, was influenced by the Atlantic multi-decadal oscillation and that the twentieth century was the warmest on record in NETP and SETP. Our reconstructions and climate model simulations both show industrial-era warming trends, the onset of which happened earlier in NETP (1812 CE) compared to SETP (1887 CE) and other temperature reconstructions for Western China, East Asia, Asia, and the Northern Hemisphere. The early NETP onset of industrial-era warming can likely be explained by NETP's faster warming rate and by local feedback factors (i.e., ice-snow cover-albedo). Comparisons between climate model simulations and our reconstructions reveal that cooler TP temperatures from 1600 to 1800 CE might be related to land-use and land-cover change.

    Read more about Century-scale temperature variability and onset of industrial-era warming in the Eastern Tibetan Plateau
  • On the dynamics of the spring seasonal transition in the two hemispheric high-latitude stratosphere

    2019. Tongmei Wang (et al.). Tellus. Series A, Dynamic meteorology and oceanography 71 (1)


    The seasonal transition is one of the main features of the atmospheric general circulation and is particularly manifest in the high-latitude stratosphere. To explore the dynamics of stratospheric seasonal transition in both hemispheres, the observational features of the annual cycle and seasonal transition in high-latitude stratosphere are investigated using the 38-year ERA-interim reanalysis. Climatological analysis shows that tropospheric planetary waves propagate to the stratosphere and affect significantly the winter-to-summer stratospheric seasonal transition over both hemispheres, but with a much stronger wave activity in austral spring than its boreal counterpart. The austral spring seasonal transition occurs first at the stratopause then propagates down to the lower stratosphere due to enhanced planetary wave breaking, weakening the westerlies. In boreal spring, the seasonal transition occurs simultaneously across the depth of the stratosphere, mainly due to the solar radiation and weaker planetary wave activity. Interannual variability analysis shows that the timing of stratospheric seasonal transition is closely linked to the intensity of upward propagation of planetary wave activity, i.e. the stronger the upward propagation of planetary wave activity in high-latitudes in spring the earlier the stratospheric seasonal transition. Transition indexes are defined and the probability distributions of the indexes show that there are two types of transition in both hemispheres: synchronous/asynchronous in the Northern Hemisphere (NH), and steep/moderate transitions in the Southern Hemisphere (SH). A composite analysis shows that before the transition, stronger wave activity leads to asynchronous rather than synchronous transition in the NH, which propagates downward from the stratopause. In the SH, a moderate rather than steep transition is obtained, which occurs earlier and takes longer to propagate from the upper to lower stratosphere.

    Read more about On the dynamics of the spring seasonal transition in the two hemispheric high-latitude stratosphere
  • Northern Hemisphere Land Monsoon Precipitation Increased by the Green Sahara During Middle Holocene

    2019. Weiyi Sun (et al.). Geophysical Research Letters 46 (16), 9870-9879


    Changes in land cover and dust emission may significantly influence the Northern Hemisphere land monsoon precipitation (NHLMP), but observations are too short to fully evaluate their impacts. The Green Sahara during the mid-Holocene (6,000 years BP) provides an opportunity to unravel these mechanisms. Here we show that during the mid-Holocene, most of the NHLMP changes revealed by proxy data are reproduced by the Earth System model results when the Saharan vegetation cover and dust reduction are taken into consideration. The simulated NHLMP significantly increases by 33.10% under the effect of the Green Sahara. The North African monsoon precipitation increases most significantly. Additionally, the Saharan vegetation (dust reduction under vegetated Sahara) alone remotely intensifies the Asian (North American) monsoon precipitation through large-scale atmospheric circulation changes. These findings imply that future variations in land cover and dust emissions may appreciably influence the NHLMP. Plain Language Summary Northern Hemisphere land monsoon precipitation (NHLMP) provides water resources for about two thirds of the world's population, which is vital for infrastructure planning, disaster mitigation, food security, and economic development. Changes in land cover and dust emissions may significantly influence the NHLMP, but observations are too short to understand the mechanisms. The Sahara Desert was once covered by vegetation and dust emission was substantially reduced during the mid-Holocene (6,000 years BP), which provides an opportunity to test the models' capability and unravel these mechanisms. Here we use an Earth System model and find that when the Saharan vegetation and dust reduction are taken into consideration, the simulated annual mean precipitation over most of the NHLM regions shows a closer agreement with proxy records. The sensitivity experiments show that the North African monsoon precipitation increases most significantly under the regional effects of Green Sahara. The Saharan vegetation (dust reduction under vegetated Sahara) alone also remotely increases the Asian (North American) monsoon precipitation through large-scale atmospheric circulation changes. The knowledge gained from this study is critical for improved understanding of the potential impacts of the land cover and dust changes on the projected future monsoon change.

    Read more about Northern Hemisphere Land Monsoon Precipitation Increased by the Green Sahara During Middle Holocene
  • Centennial-Scale Temperature Change in Last Millennium Simulations and Proxy-Based Reconstructions

    2019. Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist (et al.). Journal of Climate 32 (9), 2441-2482


    Systematic comparisons of proxy-based reconstructions and climate model simulations of past millennium temperature variability offer insights into climate sensitivity and feedback mechanisms, besides allowing model evaluation independently from the period covered by instrumental data. Such simulation-reconstruction comparisons can help to distinguish more skillful models from less skillful ones, which may subsequently help to develop more reliable future projections. This study evaluates the low-frequency simulation-reconstruction agreement within the past millennium through assessing the amplitude of temperature change between the Medieval Climate Anomaly (here, 950-1250 CE) and the Little Ice Age (here, 1450-1850 CE) in PMIP3 model simulations compared to proxy-based local and continental-scale reconstructions. The simulations consistently show a smaller temperature change than the reconstructions for most regions in the Northern Hemisphere, but not in the Southern Hemisphere, as well as a partly different spatial pattern. A cost function analysis assesses how well the various simulations agree with reconstructions. Disregarding spatial correlation, significant differences are seen in the agreement with the local temperature reconstructions between groups of models, but insignificant differences are noted when compared to continental-scale reconstructions. This result points toward a limited possibility to rank models by means of their low-frequency temperature variability alone. The systematically lower amplitude of simulated versus reconstructed temperature change indicates either too-small simulated internal variability or that the analyzed models lack some critical forcing or have missing or too-weak feedback mechanisms. We hypothesize that too-cold initial ocean conditions in the models-in combination with too-weak internal variability and slow feedbacks over longer time scales-could account for much of the simulation-reconstruction disagreement.

    Read more about Centennial-Scale Temperature Change in Last Millennium Simulations and Proxy-Based Reconstructions
  • Vegetation Pattern and Terrestrial Carbon Variation in Past Warm and Cold Climates

    2019. Zhengyao Lu (et al.). Geophysical Research Letters 46 (14), 8133-8143


    Understanding the transition of biosphere-atmosphere carbon exchange between glacial and interglacial climates can constrain uncertainties in its future projections. Using an individual-based dynamic vegetation model, we simulate vegetation distribution and terrestrial carbon cycling in past cold and warm climates and elucidate the forcing effects of temperature, precipitation, atmospheric CO2 concentration (pCO(2)), and landmass. Results are consistent with proxy reconstructions and reveal that the vegetation extent is mainly determined by temperature anomalies, especially in a cold climate, while precipitation forcing effects on global-scale vegetation patterns are marginal. The pCO(2) change controls the global carbon balance with the fertilization effect of higher pCO(2) linking to higher vegetation coverage, an enhanced terrestrial carbon sink, and increased terrestrial carbon storage. Our results indicate carbon transfer from ocean and permafrost/peat to the biosphere and atmosphere and highlight the importance of forest expansion as a driver of terrestrial ecosystem carbon stock from cold to warm climates.

    Read more about Vegetation Pattern and Terrestrial Carbon Variation in Past Warm and Cold Climates
  • Contribution of sea ice albedo and insulation effects to Arctic amplification in the EC-Earth Pliocene simulation

    2019. Jianqiu Zheng (et al.). Climate of the Past 15 (1), 291-305


    In the present work, we simulate the Pliocene climate with the EC-Earth climate model as an equilibrium state for the current warming climate induced by rising CO2 in the atmosphere. The simulated Pliocene climate shows a strong Arctic amplification featuring pronounced warming sea surface temperature (SST) over the North Atlantic, in particular over the Greenland Sea and Baffin Bay, which is comparable to geological SST reconstructions from the Pliocene Research, Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping group (PRISM; Dowsett et al., 2016). To understand the underlying physical processes, the air-sea heat flux variation in response to Arctic sea ice change is quantitatively assessed by a climate feedback and response analysis method (CFRAM) and an approach similar to equilibrium feedback assessment. Given the fact that the maximum SST warming occurs in summer while the maximum surface air temperature warming happens during winter, our analyses show that a dominant ice albedo effect is the main reason for summer SST warming, and a 1% loss in sea ice concentration could lead to an approximate 1.8Wm(-2) increase in shortwave solar radiation into open sea surface. During the winter months, the insulation effect induces enhanced turbulent heat flux out of the sea surface due to sea ice melting in previous summer months. This leads to more heat released from the ocean to the atmosphere, thus explaining why surface air temperature warming amplification is stronger in winter than in summer.

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  • The water cycle of the mid-Holocene West African monsoon

    2019. Gabriele Messori (et al.). International Journal of Climatology 39 (4), 1927-1939


    During the mid-Holocene (6 kyr BP), West Africa experienced a much stronger and geographically extensive monsoon than in the present day. Changes in orbital forcing, vegetation and dust emissions from the Sahara have been identified as key factors driving this intensification. Here, we analyse how the timing, origin and convergence of moisture fluxes contributing to the monsoonal precipitation change under a range of scenarios: orbital forcing only; orbital and vegetation forcings (Green Sahara); orbital, vegetation and dust forcings (Green Sahara-reduced dust). We further compare our results to a range of reconstructions of mid-Holocene precipitation from palaeoclimate archives. In our simulations, the greening of the Sahara leads to a cyclonic water vapour flux anomaly over North Africa with an anomalous westerly flow bringing large amounts of moisture into the Sahel from the Atlantic Ocean. Changes in atmospheric dust under a vegetated Sahara shift the anomalous moisture advection pattern northwards, increasing both moisture convergence and precipitation recycling over the northern Sahel and Sahara and the associated precipitation during the boreal summer. During this season, under both the Green Sahara and Green Sahara-reduced dust scenarios, local recycling in the Saharan domain exceeds that of the Sahel. This points to local recycling as an important factor modulating vegetation-precipitation feedbacks and the impact of Saharan dust emissions. Our results also show that temperature and evapotranspiration over the Sahara in the mid-Holocene are close to Sahelian pre-industrial values. This suggests that pollen-based paleoclimate reconstructions of precipitation during the Green Sahara period are likely not biased by possible large evapotranspiration changes in the region.

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  • The SPARC water vapour assessment II

    2019. Charlotta Högberg (et al.). Atmospheric Chemistry And Physics 19 (4), 2497-2526


    Within the framework of the second SPARC (Stratosphere-troposphere Processes And their Role in Climate) water vapour assessment (WAVAS-II), we evaluated five data sets of delta D(H2O) obtained from observations by Odin/SMR (Sub-Millimetre Radiometer), Envisat/MIPAS (Environmental Satellite/Michelson Interferometer for Passive Atmospheric Sounding), and SCISAT/ACE-FTS (Science Satellite/Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment - Fourier Transform Spectrometer) using profile-to-profile and climatological comparisons. These comparisons aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of typical uncertainties in the observational database that could be considered in the future in observational and modelling studies. Our primary focus is on stratospheric altitudes, but results for the upper troposphere and lower mesosphere are also shown. There are clear quantitative differences in the measurements of the isotopic ratio, mainly with regard to comparisons between the SMR data set and both the MIPAS and ACE-FTS data sets. In the lower stratosphere, the SMR data set shows a higher depletion in delta D than the MIPAS and ACE-FTS data sets. The differences maximise close to 50 hPa and exceed 200 parts per thousand. With increasing altitude, the biases decrease. Above 4 hPa, the SMR data set shows a lower delta D depletion than the MIPAS data sets, occasionally exceeding 100 parts per thousand. Overall, the delta D biases of the SMR data set are driven by HDO biases in the lower stratosphere and by H2O biases in the upper stratosphere and lower mesosphere. In between, in the middle stratosphere, the biases in delta D are the result of deviations in both HDO and H2O. These biases are attributed to issues with the calibration, in particular in terms of the sideband filtering, and uncertainties in spectroscopic parameters. The MIPAS and ACE-FTS data sets agree rather well between about 100 and 10 hPa. The MIPAS data sets show less depletion below approximately 15 hPa (up to about 30 parts per thousand), due to differences in both HDO and H2O. Higher up this behaviour is reversed, and towards the upper stratosphere the biases increase. This is driven by increasing biases in H2O, and on occasion the differences in delta D exceed 80 parts per thousand. Below 100 hPa, the differences between the MIPAS and ACE-FTS data sets are even larger. In the climatological comparisons, the MIPAS data sets continue to show less depletion in delta D than the ACE-FTS data sets below 15 hPa during all seasons, with some variations in magnitude. The differences between the MIPAS and ACE-FTS data have multiple causes, such as differences in the temporal and spatial sampling (except for the profile-to-profile comparisons), cloud influence, vertical resolution, and the microwindows and spectroscopic database chosen. Differences between data sets from the same instrument are typically small in the stratosphere. Overall, if the data sets are considered together, the differences in delta D among them in key areas of scientific interest (e.g. tropical and polar lower stratosphere, lower mesosphere, and upper troposphere) are too large to draw robust conclusions on atmospheric processes affecting the water vapour budget and distribution, e.g. the relative importance of different mechanisms transporting water vapour into the stratosphere.

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  • Interconnectivity Between Volume Transports Through Arctic Straits

    2018. Agatha M. de Boer (et al.). Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans 123 (12), 8714-8729


    Arctic heat and freshwater budgets are highly sensitive to volume transports through the Arctic-Subarctic straits. Here we study the interconnectivity of volume transports through Arctic straits in three models; two coupled global climate models, one with a third-degree horizontal ocean resolution (High Resolution Global Environmental Model version 1.1 [HiGEM1.1]) and one with a twelfth-degree horizontal ocean resolution (Hadley Centre Global Environment Model 3 [HadGEM3]), and one ocean-only model with an idealized polar basin (tenth-degree horizontal resolution). The two global climate models indicate that there is a strong anticorrelation between the Bering Strait throughflow and the transport through the Nordic Seas, a second strong anticorrelation between the transport through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and the Nordic Seas transport, and a third strong anticorrelation is found between the Fram Strait and the Barents Sea throughflows. We find that part of the strait correlations is due to the strait transports being coincidentally driven by large-scale atmospheric forcing patterns. However, there is also a role for fast wave adjustments of some straits flows to perturbations in other straits since atmospheric forcing of individual strait flows alone cannot lead to near mass balance fortuitously every year. Idealized experiments with an ocean model (Nucleus for European Modelling of the Ocean version 3.6) that investigate such causal strait relations suggest that perturbations in the Bering Strait are compensated preferentially in the Fram Strait due to the narrowness of the western Arctic shelf and the deeper depth of the Fram Strait. Plain Language Summary The Arctic is one of the most fragile places on the Earth, facing double the rate of warming as the rest of the globe. This warming is partly due to melting of sea ice because open water reflects less sunlight than ice. One of the major controls on Arctic sea ice concentration is the heat flowing into the Arctic through its straits. However, due to the harsh conditions in the Arctic, there are limited long-term observations of the currents flowing through these straits. Here we turn to climate models to investigate these Arctic straits flows and in particular focus on how flows into and out of the Arctic balance each other. We find that in some instances specific pairs of strait flows are simultaneously affected by large-scale atmospheric. In other instances, the inflow through one strait flows out through another distant strait because of the way the ocean floor guides the currents. Traditionally, the flows through Arctic straits are studied in relation to local forces such as wind and sea level. Our work suggests value in a more holistic approach; one that also accounts for flow changes in a strait as a response to flow changes in other straits.

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  • Characterization of the Sahelian-Sudan rainfall based on observations and regional climate models

    2018. Abubakr A. M. Salih (et al.). Atmospheric research 202, 205-218


    The African Sahel region is known to be highly vulnerable to climate variability and change. We analyze rainfall in the Sahelian Sudan in terms of distribution of rain-days and amounts, and examine whether regional climate models can capture these rainfall features. Three regional models namely, Regional Model (REMO), Rossby Center Atmospheric Model (RCA) and Regional Climate Model (RegCM4), are evaluated against gridded observations (Climate Research Unit, Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, and ERA-interim reanalysis) and rain gauge data from six arid and semi-arid weather stations across Sahelian Sudan over the period 1989 to 2008. Most of the observed rain-days are characterized by weak (0.1-1.0 mm/day) to moderate ( > 1.0-10.0 mm/day) rainfall, with average frequencies of 18.5% and 48.0% of the total annual rain-days, respectively. Although very strong rainfall events ( > 30.0 mm/day) occur rarely, they account for a large fraction of the total annual rainfall (28-42% across the stations). The performance of the models varies both spatially and temporally. RegCM4 most closely reproduces the observed annual rainfall cycle, especially for the more arid locations, but all of the three models fail to capture the strong rainfall events and hence underestimate its contribution to the total annual number of rain days and rainfall amount. However, excessive moderate rainfall compensates this underestimation in the models in an annual average sense. The present study uncovers some of the models' limitations in skillfully reproducing the observed climate over dry regions, will aid model users in recognizing the uncertainties in the model output and will help climate and hydrological modeling communities in improving models.

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  • Comparison of Moisture Transport between Siberia and Northeast Asia on Annual and Interannual Time Scales

    2018. Jinling Piao (et al.). Journal of Climate 31 (18), 7645-7660


    The moisture supplies over Siberia and Northeast Asia are investigated by comparing their similarities and differences, enlightened by the seesaw pattern in their summer precipitation. Based on the rotated empirical orthogonal functions in the 3-month standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI_03), Siberia and Northeast Asia are defined as the regions within 55 degrees-70 degrees N, 80 degrees-115 degrees E and 40 degrees-55 degrees N, 90 degrees-115 degrees E, respectively. Our results show that over both regions, evaporation contributes the most to the precipitation amount at the annual time scale, and moisture convergence contributes the most on the interannual time scale. For moisture convergence, both the stationary and transient terms are subject to impacts of the midlatitude westerlies. For the annual cycle, the net moisture supply over both Siberia and Northeast Asia is closely associated with both stationary and transient moisture transport. However, on the interannual time scale, the net moisture convergence is closely related to the stationary term only. The examination of the boundary moisture transport shows that in addition to the zonal component, the meridional stationary moisture transport plays a key role in the net moisture convergence. The transient moisture transport mainly depends on moisture transport through the western and southern boundaries, with a comparable magnitude to that of the stationary one, further confirming the importance of the stationary and transient terms on the moisture supply for the annual cycle. In addition, the circulations responsible for moisture transport anomalies indicate that the stationary moisture circulation is the key factor for the moisture supply anomalies over both Siberia and Northeast Asia, with limited impacts from the transient moisture circulation.

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  • Dynamic Vegetation Simulations of the Mid-Holocene Green Sahara

    2018. Zhengyao Lu (et al.). Geophysical Research Letters 45 (16), 8294-8303


    The Green Sahara is a period when North Africa was characterized by vegetation cover and wetlands. To qualitatively identify the orbital-climatic causation of the Green Sahara regime, we performed dynamic vegetation model (LPJ-GUESS) simulations, driven by climate forcings from coupled general circulation model (EC-Earth) simulations for the mid-Holocene, in which the vegetation is prescribed to be either modern desert or artificially vegetated with a reduced dust load. LPJ-GUESS simulates a vegetated Sahara covered by both herbaceous and woody vegetation types consistent with proxy reconstructions only in the latter scenario. Sensitivity experiments identify interactions required to capture the northward extension of vegetation. Increased precipitation is the main driver of the vegetation extent changes, and the temperature anomalies determine the plant functional types mainly through altered fire disturbance. Furthermore, the simulated vegetation composition also depends on the correct representation of soil texture in a humid environment like Green Sahara. Plain Language Summary The Sahara Desert experienced wet and vegetated conditions in the past. The vegetation-atmosphere feedbacks play an important role in sustaining vegetation cover in that region. Here we perform dynamic vegetation model simulations to reproduce herbaceous and woody vegetation types in North Africa 6,000 years ago. We further investigate separately the relative importance of various climate forcings (precipitation, temperature, radiation, and soil temperature) in inducing the Green Sahara. We conclude that vegetation extent is mainly determined by precipitation, while vegetation composition is mainly determined by temperature, and the correct representation of soil texture is also important. Future modeling work considering dynamic vegetation-atmosphere feedbacks could be valuable for providing analogues to Sahara/Sahel climate and vegetation regimes in the past and future.

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  • Estimation of the maximum annual number of North Atlantic tropical cyclones using climate models

    2018. Sally L. Lavender (et al.). Science Advances 4 (8)


    Using millennia-long climate model simulations, favorable environments for tropical cyclone formation are examined to determine whether the record number of tropical cyclones in the 2005 Atlantic season is close to the maximum possible number for the present climate of that basin. By estimating both the mean number of tropical cyclones and their possible year-to-year random variability, we find that the likelihood that the maximum number of storms in the Atlantic could be greater than the number of events observed during the 2005 season is less than 3.5%. Using a less restrictive comparison between simulated and observed climate with the internal variability accounted for, this probability increases to 9%; however, the estimated maximum possible number of tropical cyclones does not greatly exceed the 2005 total. Hence, the 2005 season can be used as a risk management benchmark for the maximum possible number of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic.

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  • Representation of Multidecadal Sahel Rainfall Variability in 20th Century Reanalyses

    2018. Ellen Berntell (et al.). Scientific Reports 8


    Summer rainfall in the Sahel region has exhibited strong multidecadal variability during the 20th century causing dramatic human and socio-economic impacts. Studies have suggested that the variability is linked to the Atlantic multidecadal variability; a spatially persistent pattern of warm/cold sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic. In the last few years, several promising century-long reanalysis datasets have been made available, opening up for further studies into the dynamics inducing the observed low-frequency rainfall variability in Sahel. We find that although three of the 20th century ECMWF reanalyses show clear multidecadal rainfall variability with extended wet and dry periods, the timing of the multidecadal variability in two of these reanalyses is found to exhibit almost anti-phase features for a large part of the 20th century when compared to observations. The best representation of the multidecadal rainfall variability is found in the ECMWF reanalysis that, unlike the other reanalyses (including NOAA's 20th century), do not assimilate any observations and may well be a critical reason for this mismatch, as discussed herein. This reanalysis, namely ERA-20CM, is thus recommended for future studies on the dynamics driving the multidecadal rainfall variability in Sahel and its linkages to the low-frequency North Atlantic oceanic temperatures.

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  • Stable Water Isotopologues in the Stratosphere Retrieved from Odin/SMR Measurements

    2018. Tongmei Wang (et al.). Remote Sensing 10 (2)


    Stable Water Isotopologues (SWIs) are important diagnostic tracers for understanding processes in the atmosphere and the global hydrological cycle. Using eight years (2002-2009) of retrievals from Odin/SMR (Sub-Millimetre Radiometer), the global climatological features of three SWIs, (H2O)-O-16, HDO and (H2O)-O-18, the isotopic composition D and O-18 in the stratosphere are analysed for the first time. Spatially, SWIs are found to increase with altitude due to stratospheric methane oxidation. In the tropics, highly depleted SWIs in the lower stratosphere indicate the effect of dehydration when the air comes through the cold tropopause, while, at higher latitudes, more enriched SWIs in the upper stratosphere during summer are produced and transported to the other hemisphere via the Brewer-Dobson circulation. Furthermore, we found that more (H2O)-O-16 is produced over summer Northern Hemisphere and more HDO is produced over summer Southern Hemisphere. Temporally, a tape recorder in (H2O)-O-16 is observed in the lower tropical stratosphere, in addition to a pronounced downward propagating seasonal signal in SWIs from the upper to the lower stratosphere over the polar regions. These observed features in SWIs are further compared to SWI-enabled model outputs. This helped to identify possible causes of model deficiencies in reproducing main stratospheric features. For instance, choosing a better advection scheme and including methane oxidation process in a specific model immediately capture the main features of stratospheric water vapor. The representation of other features, such as the observed inter-hemispheric difference of isotopic component, is also discussed.

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  • The PMIP4 contribution to CMIP6-Part 1

    2018. Masa Kageyama (et al.). Geoscientific Model Development 11 (3), 1033-1057


    This paper is the first of a series of four GMD papers on the PMIP4-CMIP6 experiments. Part 2 (OttoBliesner et al., 2017) gives details about the two PMIP4-CMIP6 interglacial experiments, Part 3 (Jungclaus et al., 2017) about the last millennium experiment, and Part 4 (Kageyama et al., 2017) about the Last Glacial Maximum experiment. The mid-Pliocene Warm Period experiment is part of the Pliocene Model Intercomparison Project (PlioMIP) Phase 2, detailed in Haywood et al. (2016). The goal of the Paleoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project (PMIP) is to understand the response of the climate system to different climate forcings for documented climatic states very different from the present and historical climates. Through comparison with observations of the environmental impact of these climate changes, or with climate reconstructions based on physical, chemical, or biological records, PMIP also addresses the issue of how well state-of-the-art numerical models simulate climate change. Climate models are usually developed using the present and historical climates as references, but climate projections show that future climates will lie well outside these conditions. Palaeoclimates very different from these reference states therefore provide stringent tests for state-of-the-art models and a way to assess whether their sensitivity to forcings is compatible with palaeoclimatic evidence. Simulations of five different periods have been designed to address the objectives of the sixth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6): the millennium prior to the industrial epoch (CMIP6 name: past1000); the mid-Holocene, 6000 years ago (midHolocene); the Last Glacial Maximum, 21 000 years ago (lgm); the Last Interglacial, 127 000 years ago (lig127k); and the mid-Pliocene Warm Period, 3.2 million years ago (midPliocene-eoi400). These climatic periods are well documented by palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental records, with climate and environmental changes relevant for the study and projection of future climate changes. This paper describes the motivation for the choice of these periods and the design of the numerical experiments and database requests, with a focus on their novel features compared to the experiments performed in previous phases of PMIP and CMIP. It also outlines the analysis plan that takes advantage of the comparisons of the results across periods and across CMIP6 in collaboration with other MIPs.

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  • Enhanced Recent Local Moisture Recycling on the Northwestern Tibetan Plateau Deduced From Ice Core Deuterium Excess Records

    2017. Wenling An (et al.). Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres 122 (23), 12541-12556


    Local moisture recycling plays an essential role in maintaining an active hydrological cycle of the Tibetan Plateau (TP). Previous studies were largely limited to the seasonal time scale due to short and sparse observations, especially for the northwestern TP. In this study, we used a two-component mixing model to estimate local moisture recycling over the past decades from the deuterium excess records of two ice cores (i.e., Chongce and Zangser Kangri) from the northwestern TP. The results show that on average almost half of the precipitation on the northwestern TP is provided by local moisture recycling. In addition, the local moisture recycling ratio has increased evidently on the northwestern TP, suggesting an enhanced hydrological cycle. This recent increase could be due to the climatic and environmental changes on the TP in the past decades. Rapid increases in temperature and precipitation have enhanced evaporation. Changes of land surface of plateau have significantly increased evapotranspiration. All of these have intensified local moisture recycling. However, the mixing model used in this study only includes a limited number of climate factors. Some of the extreme values of moisture recycling ratio could be caused by large-scale atmospheric circulation and other climatic and weather events. Moreover, the potential mechanisms for the increase in local recycling need to be further examined, since the numeric simulations from climate models did not reproduce the increased contribution of local moisture recycling in precipitation.

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  • Greening of the Sahara suppressed ENSO activity during the mid-Holocene

    2017. Francesco S. R. Pausata (et al.). Nature Communications 8


    The evolution of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) during the Holocene remains uncertain. In particular, a host of new paleoclimate records suggest that ENSO internal variability or other external forcings may have dwarfed the fairly modest ENSO response to precessional insolation changes simulated in climate models. Here, using fully coupled ocean-atmosphere model simulations, we show that accounting for a vegetated and less dusty Sahara during the mid-Holocene relative to preindustrial climate can reduce ENSO variability by 25%, more than twice the decrease obtained using orbital forcing alone. We identify changes in tropical Atlantic mean state and variability caused by the momentous strengthening of the West Africa Monsoon (WAM) as critical factors in amplifying ENSO's response to insolation forcing through changes in the Walker circulation. Our results thus suggest that potential changes in the WAM due to anthropogenic warming may influence ENSO variability in the future as well.

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  • On the importance of the albedo parameterization for the mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet in EC-Earth

    2017. Michiel M. Helsen (et al.). The Cryosphere 11 (4), 1949-1965


    The albedo of the surface of ice sheets changes as a function of time due to the effects of deposition of new snow, ageing of dry snow, bare ice exposure, melting and run-off. Currently, the calculation of the albedo of ice sheets is highly parameterized within the earth system model EC-Earth by taking a constant value for areas with thick perennial snow cover. This is an important reason why the surface mass balance (SMB) of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) is poorly resolved in the model. The purpose of this study is to improve the SMB forcing of the GrIS by evaluating different parameter settings within a snow albedo scheme. By allowing ice-sheet albedo to vary as a function of wet and dry conditions, the spatial distribution of albedo and melt rate improves. Nevertheless, the spatial distribution of SMB in EC-Earth is not significantly improved. As a reason for this, we identify omissions in the current snow albedo scheme, such as separate treatment of snow and ice and the effect of refreezing. The resulting SMB is downscaled from the lower-resolution global climate model topography to the higher-resolution ice-sheet topography of the GrIS, such that the influence of these different SMB climatologies on the long-term evolution of the GrIS is tested by ice-sheet model simulations. From these ice-sheet simulations we conclude that an albedo scheme with a short response time of decaying albedo during wet conditions performs best with respect to long-term simulated ice-sheet volume. This results in an optimized albedo parameterization that can be used in future EC-Earth simulations with an interactive ice-sheet component.

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  • The PMIP4 contribution to CMIP6-Part 2

    2017. Bette L. Otto-Bliesner (et al.). Geoscientific Model Development 10 (11), 3979-4003


    Two interglacial epochs are included in the suite of Paleoclimate Modeling Intercomparison Project (PMIP4) simulations in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). The experimental protocols for simulations of the mid-Holocene (midHolocene, 6000 years before present) and the Last Interglacial (lig127k, 127 000 years before present) are described here. These equilibrium simulations are designed to examine the impact of changes in orbital forcing at times when atmospheric greenhouse gas levels were similar to those of the preindustrial period and the continental configurations were almost identical to modern ones. These simulations test our understanding of the interplay between radiative forcing and atmospheric circulation, and the connections among large-scale and regional climate changes giving rise to phenomena such as land-sea contrast and high-latitude amplification in temperature changes, and responses of the monsoons, as compared to today. They also provide an opportunity, through carefully designed additional sensitivity experiments, to quantify the strength of atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and land-surface feedbacks. Sensitivity experiments are proposed to investigate the role of freshwater forcing in triggering abrupt climate changes within interglacial epochs. These feedback experiments naturally lead to a focus on climate evolution during interglacial periods, which will be examined through transient experiments. Analyses of the sensitivity simulations will also focus on interactions between extratropical and tropical circulation, and the relationship between changes in mean climate state and climate variability on annual to multi-decadal timescales. The comparative abundance of paleoenvironmental data and of quantitative climate reconstructions for the Holocene and Last Interglacial make these two epochs ideal candidates for systematic evaluation of model performance, and such comparisons will shed new light on the importance of external feedbacks (e.g., vegetation, dust) and the ability of state-of-the-art models to simulate climate changes realistically.

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  • The PMIP4 contribution to CMIP6-Part 3

    2017. Johann H. Jungclaus (et al.). Geoscientific Model Development 10 (11), 4005-4033


    The pre-industrial millennium is among the periods selected by the Paleoclimate Model Intercomparison Project (PMIP) for experiments contributing to the sixth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) and the fourth phase of the PMIP (PMIP4). The past1000 transient simulations serve to investigate the response to (mainly) natural forcing under background conditions not too different from today, and to discriminate between forced and internally generated variability on interannual to centennial timescales. This paper describes the motivation and the experimental set-ups for the PMIP4-CMIP6 past1000 simulations, and discusses the forcing agents orbital, solar, volcanic, and land use/land cover changes, and variations in greenhouse gas concentrations. The past1000 simulations covering the pre-industrial millennium from 850 Common Era (CE) to 1849 CE have to be complemented by historical simulations (1850 to 2014 CE) following the CMIP6 protocol. The external forcings for the past1000 experiments have been adapted to provide a seamless transition across these time periods. Protocols for the past1000 simulations have been divided into three tiers. A default forcing data set has been defined for the Tier 1 (the CMIP6 past1000) experiment. However, the PMIP community has maintained the flexibility to conduct coordinated sensitivity experiments to explore uncertainty in forcing reconstructions as well as parameter uncertainty in dedicated Tier 2 simulations. Additional experiments (Tier 3) are defined to foster collaborative model experiments focusing on the early instrumental period and to extend the temporal range and the scope of the simulations. This paper outlines current and future research foci and common analyses for collaborative work between the PMIP and the observational communities (reconstructions, instrumental data).

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  • The PMIP4 contribution to CMIP6-Part 4

    2017. Masa Kageyama (et al.). Geoscientific Model Development 10 (11), 4035-4055


    The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, 21 000 years ago) is one of the suite of paleoclimate simulations included in the current phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). It is an interval when insolation was similar to the present, but global ice volume was at a maximum, eustatic sea level was at or close to a minimum, greenhouse gas concentrations were lower, atmospheric aerosol loadings were higher than today, and vegetation and land-surface characteristics were different from today. The LGM has been a focus for the Paleoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project (PMIP) since its inception, and thus many of the problems that might be associated with simulating such a radically different climate are well documented. The LGM state provides an ideal case study for evaluating climate model performance because the changes in forcing and temperature between the LGM and pre-industrial are of the same order of magnitude as those projected for the end of the 21st century. Thus, the CMIP6 LGM experiment could provide additional information that can be used to constrain estimates of climate sensitivity. The design of the Tier 1 LGM experiment (lgm) includes an assessment of uncertainties in boundary conditions, in particular through the use of different reconstructions of the ice sheets and of the change in dust forcing. Additional (Tier 2) sensitivity experiments have been designed to quantify feedbacks associated with land-surface changes and aerosol loadings, and to isolate the role of individual forcings. Model analysis and evaluation will capitalize on the relative abundance of paleoenvironmental observations and quantitative climate reconstructions already available for the LGM.

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  • Tropical cyclone activity enhanced by Sahara greening and reduced dust emissions during the African Humid Period

    2017. Francesco S. R. Pausata (et al.). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114 (24), 6221-6226


    Tropical cyclones (TCs) can have devastating socioeconomic impacts. Understanding the nature and causes of their variability is of paramount importance for society. However, historical records of TCs are too short to fully characterize such changes and paleosediment archives of Holocene TC activity are temporally and geographically sparse. Thus, it is of interest to apply physical modeling to understanding TC variability under different climate conditions. Here we investigate global TC activity during a warm climate state (mid-Holocene, 6,000 yBP) characterized by increased boreal summer insolation, a vegetated Sahara, and reduced dust emissions. We analyze a set of sensitivity experiments in which not only solar insolation changes are varied but also vegetation and dust concentrations. Our results show that the greening of the Sahara and reduced dust loadings lead to more favorable conditions for tropical cyclone development compared with the orbital forcing alone. In particular, the strengthening of the West African Monsoon induced by the Sahara greening triggers a change in atmospheric circulation that affects the entire tropics. Furthermore, whereas previous studies suggest lower TC activity despite stronger summer insolation and warmer sea surface temperature in the Northern Hemisphere, accounting for the Sahara greening and reduced dust concentrations leads instead to an increase of TC activity in both hemispheres, particularly over the Caribbean basin and East Coast of North America. Our study highlights the importance of regional changes in land cover and dust concentrations in affecting the potential intensity and genesis of past TCs and suggests that both factors may have appreciable influence on TC activity in a future warmer climate.

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  • Understanding the Mechanisms behind the Northward Extension of the West African Monsoon during the Mid-Holocene

    2017. Marco Gaetani (et al.). Journal of Climate 30 (19), 7621-7642


    Understanding the West African monsoon (WAM) dynamics in the mid-Holocene (MH) is a crucial issue in climate modeling, because numerical models typically fail to reproduce the extensive precipitation suggested by proxy evidence. This discrepancy may be largely due to the assumption of both unrealistic land surface cover and atmospheric aerosol concentration. In this study, the MH environment is simulated in numerical experiments by imposing extensive vegetation over the Sahara and the consequent reduction in airborne dust concentration. A dramatic increase in precipitation is simulated across the whole of West Africa, up to the Mediterranean coast. This precipitation response is in better agreement with proxy data, in comparison with the case in which only changes in orbital forcing are considered. Results show a substantial modification of the monsoonal circulation, characterized by an intensification of large-scale deep convection through the entire Sahara, and a weakening and northward shift (similar to 6.5 degrees) of the African easterly jet. The greening of the Sahara also leads to a substantial reduction in the African easterly wave activity and associated precipitation. The reorganization of the regional atmospheric circulation is driven by the vegetation effect on radiative forcing and associated heat fluxes, with the reduction in dust concentration to enhance this response. The results for the WAM in the MH present important implications for understanding future climate scenarios in the region and in teleconnected areas, in the context of projected wetter conditions in West Africa.

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  • Impacts of dust reduction on the northward expansion of the African monsoon during the Green Sahara period

    2016. Francesco S. R. Pausata, Gabriele Messori, Qiong Zhang. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 434, 298-307


    The West African Monsoon (WAM) is crucial for the socio-economic stability of millions of people living in the Sahel. Severe droughts have ravaged the region in the last three decades of the 20th century, highlighting the need for a better understanding of the WAM dynamics. One of the most dramatic changes in the West African Monsoon (WAM) occurred between 15000-5000 yr BP, when increased summer rainfall led to the so-called Green Sahara and to a reduction in dust emissions from the region. However, model experiments are unable to fully reproduce the intensification and geographical expansion of the WAM during this period, even when vegetation over the Sahara is considered. Here, we use a fully coupled simulation for 6000 yr BP (Mid-Holocene) in which prescribed Saharan vegetation and dust concentrations are changed in turn. A closer agreement with proxy records is obtained only when both the Saharan vegetation changes and dust decrease are taken into account. The dust reduction strengthens the vegetation-albedo feedback, extending the monsoon's northern limit approximately 500 km further than the vegetation-change case only. We therefore conclude that accounting for changes in Saharan dust loadings is essential for improving model simulations of the WAM during the Mid-Holocene.

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  • Problems encountered when defining Arctic amplification as a ratio

    2016. Alistair Hind, Qiong Zhang, Gudrun Brattström. Scientific Reports 6


    In climate change science the term 'Arctic amplification' has become synonymous with an estimation of the ratio of a change in Arctic temperatures compared with a broader reference change under the same period, usually in global temperatures. Here, it is shown that this definition of Arctic amplification comes with a suite of difficulties related to the statistical properties of the ratio estimator itself. Most problematic is the complexity of categorizing uncertainty in Arctic amplification when the global, or reference, change in temperature is close to 0 over a period of interest, in which case it may be impossible to set bounds on this uncertainty. An important conceptual distinction is made between the 'Ratio of Means' and 'Mean Ratio' approaches to defining a ratio estimate of Arctic amplification, as they do not only possess different uncertainty properties regarding the amplification factor, but are also demonstrated to ask different scientific questions. Uncertainty in the estimated range of the Arctic amplification factor using the latest global climate models and climate forcing scenarios is expanded upon and shown to be greater than previously demonstrated for future climate projections, particularly using forcing scenarios with lower concentrations of greenhouse gases.

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  • Sources of Sahelian-Sudan moisture

    2016. Abubakr A. M. Salih (et al.). Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres 121 (13), 7819-7832


    The summer rainfall across Sahelian-Sudan is one of the main sources of water for agriculture, human, and animal needs. However, the rainfall is characterized by large interannual variability, which has attracted extensive scientific efforts to understand it. This study attempts to identify the source regions that contribute to the Sahelian-Sudan moisture budget during July through September. We have used an atmospheric general circulation model with an embedded moisture-tracing module (Community Atmosphere Model version 3), forced by observed (1979-2013) sea-surface temperatures. The result suggests that about 40% of the moisture comes with the moisture flow associated with the seasonal migration of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and originates from Guinea Coast, central Africa, and the Western Sahel. The Mediterranean Sea, Arabian Peninsula, and South Indian Ocean regions account for 10.2%, 8.1%, and 6.4%, respectively. Local evaporation and the rest of the globe supply the region with 20.3% and 13.2%, respectively. We also compared the result from this study to a previous analysis that used the Lagrangian model FLEXPART forced by ERA-Interim. The two approaches differ when comparing individual regions, but are in better agreement when neighboring regions of similar atmospheric flow features are grouped together. Interannual variability with the rainfall over the region is highly correlated with contributions from regions that are associated with the ITCZ movement, which is in turn linked to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. Our result is expected to provide insights for the effort on seasonal forecasting of the rainy season over Sahelian Sudan.

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  • How similar are annual and summer temperature variability in central Sweden?

    2015. Peng Zhang (et al.). Advances in Aging Research 6 (3-4), 159-170


    Tree-ring based temperature reconstructions have successfully inferred the past inter-annual to millennium scales summer temperature variability. A clear relationship between annual and summer temperatures can provide insights into the variability of past annual mean temperature from the reconstructed summer temperature. However, how similar are summer and annual temperatures is to a large extent still unknown. This study aims at investigating the relationship between annual and summer temperatures at different timescales in central Sweden during the last millennium. The temperature variability in central Sweden can represent large parts of Scandinavia which has been a key region for dendroclimatological research. The observed annual and summer temperatures during 1901-2005 were firstly decomposed into different frequency bands using ensemble empirical mode decomposition (EEMD) method, and then the scale dependent relationship was quantified using Pearson correlation coefficients. The relationship between the observed annual and summer temperatures determined by the instrumental data was subsequently used to evaluate 7 climate models. The model with the best performance was used to infer the relationship for the last millennium. The results show that the relationship between the observed annual and summer temperatures becomes stronger as the timescale increases, except for the 4-16 years timescales at which it does not show any relationship. The summer temperature variability at short timescales (2-4 years) shows much higher variance than the annual variability, while the annual temperature variability at long timescales (>32 years) has a much higher variance than the summer one. During the last millennium, the simulated summer temperature also shows higher variance at the short timescales (2-4 years) and lower variance at the long timescales (>1024 years) than those of the annual temperature. The relationship between the two temperatures is generally close at the long timescales, and weak at the short timescales. Overall the summer temperature variability cannot well reflect the annual mean temperature variability for the study region during both the 20th century and the last millennium. Furthermore, all the climate models examined overestimate the annual mean temperature variance at the 2-4 years timescales, which indicates that the overestimate could be one of reasons why the volcanic eruption induced cooling is larger in climate models than in proxy data.

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  • Arctic climate response to the termination of the African Humid Period

    2015. Francesco Muschitiello (et al.). Quaternary Science Reviews 125, 91-97


    The Earth's climate response to the rapid vegetation collapse at the termination of the African Humid Period (AHP) (5.5-5.0 kyr BP) is still lacking a comprehensive investigation. Here we discuss the sensitivity of mid-Holocene Arctic climate to changes in albedo brought by a rapid desertification of the Sahara. By comparing a network of surface temperature reconstructions with output from a coupled global climate model, we find that, through a system of land-atmosphere feedbacks, the end of the AHP reduced the atmospheric and oceanic poleward heat transport from tropical to high northern latitudes. This entails a general weakening of the mid-latitude Westerlies, which results in a shift towards cooling over the Arctic and North Atlantic regions, and a change from positive to negative Arctic Oscillation-like conditions. This mechanism would explain the sign of rapid hydro-climatic perturbations recorded in several reconstructions from high northern latitudes at 5.5-5.0 kyr BP, suggesting that these regions are sensitive to changes in Saharan land cover during the present interglacial. This is central in the debate surrounding Arctic climate amplification and future projections for subtropical precipitation changes.

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  • Decadal Rainfall Dipole Oscillation over Southern Africa Modulated by Variation of Austral Summer Land-Sea Contrast along the East Coast of Africa

    2015. Qiong Zhang, Karin Holmgren, Hanna Sundqvist. Journal of Atmospheric Sciences 72 (5), 1827-1836


    A rainfall dipole mode characterized by negative correlation between subtropical southern Africa and equatorial eastern Africa is identified in instrumental observation data in the recent 100 years. The dipole mode shows a pronounced oscillation signal at a time scale of about 18 years. This study investigates the underlying dynamical mechanisms responsible for this dipole pattern. It is found that the southern African rainfall dipole index is highly correlated to the land-sea contrast along the east coast of Africa. When the land-sea thermal contrast strengthens, the easterly flow toward the continent becomes stronger. The stronger easterly flow, via its response to east coast topography and surface heating, leads to a low pressure circulation anomaly over land south of the maximum easterly flow anomalies and thus causes more rainfall in the south. On a decadal time scale, an ENSO-like SST pattern acts to modulate this land-sea contrast and the consequent rainfall dipole. During a wet in the south and dry in the north dipole, there are warm SSTs over the central Indian Ocean and cold SSTs over the western Indian Ocean. The cold SSTs over the western Indian Ocean further enhance the land-sea contrast during austral summer. Moreover, these cold western Indian Ocean SSTs also play an important role in regulating land temperature, thereby suppressing clouds and warming the land via increased shortwave radiation over the less-cloudy land. This cloud-SST coupling acts to further strengthen the land-sea contrast.

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  • Heat Transport Compensation in Atmosphere and Ocean over the Past 22,000 Years

    2015. Haijun Yang (et al.). Scientific Reports 5


    The Earth's climate has experienced dramatic changes over the past 22,000 years; however, the total meridional heat transport (MHT) of the climate system remains stable. A 22,000-year-long simulation using an ocean-atmosphere coupled model shows that the changes in atmosphere and ocean MHT are significant but tend to be out of phase in most regions, mitigating the total MHT change, which helps to maintain the stability of the Earth's overall climate. A simple conceptual model is used to understand the compensation mechanism. The simple model can reproduce qualitatively the evolution and compensation features of the MHT over the past 22,000 years. We find that the global energy conservation requires the compensation changes in the atmosphere and ocean heat transports. The degree of compensation is mainly determined by the local climate feedback between surface temperature and net radiation flux at the top of the atmosphere. This study suggests that an internal mechanism may exist in the climate system, which might have played a role in constraining the global climate change over the past 22,000 years.

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  • Lagrangian tracing of Sahelian Sudan moisture sources

    2015. Abubakr A. M. Salih, Qiong Zhang, Michael Tjernström. Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres 120 (14), 6793-6808


    The Sahelian Sudan is an arid to semiarid region that depends on the seasonal rainfall as the main source of water, but its rainfall has large interannual variability. Such dry regions usually have their main moisture sources elsewhere; thus, the rainfall variability is directly related to the moisture transport. This study seeks to identify source regions of water vapor for Sahelian Sudan during the monsoon period, from July to September. We have used the Lagrangian trajectory model FLEXPART driven by ERA-Interim reanalysis for the time period 1998 to 2008. The results show that most of the air masses that reach this region during the monsoon period have their major origins over the Arabian Peninsula, Central Africa, or are associated with the tropical easterly jet. Flow associated with Intertropical Convergence Zone contributes almost half of the total precipitated water; most of it comes from Central Africa. This suggests that moisture recycling is the major contributor, compared to Oceanic sources. The flows from the northeast (Arabian Peninsula and north Asia) and east (Horn of Africa and north Indian Ocean) contribute about one third of the precipitated water. The rest of precipitated water comes from the Mediterranean, subtropical Atlantic, and western Sahel, all with smaller contribution. Our results also indicate that different subregions of Sahelian Sudan have different moisture sources. Such result needs to be taken into account in seasonal forecasting practices.

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  • Tree ring O-18's indication of a shift to a wetter climate since the 1880s in the western Tianshan Mountains of northwestern China

    2015. Guobao Xu (et al.). Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres 120 (13), 6409-6425


    Central Asian droughts have drastically and significantly affected agriculture and water resource management in these arid and semiarid areas. Based on tree ring O-18 from native, dominant Schrenk spruce (Picea schrenkiana Fisch. et Mey.), we developed a 300year (1710-2010) standard precipitation-evaporation index (SPEI) reconstruction from January to August for China's western Tianshan Mountains. The regression model explained 37.6% of the variation in the SPEI reconstruction during the calibration period from 1950 to 2010. Comparison with previous drought reconstructions confirmed the robustness of our reconstruction. The 20th century has been a relatively wet period during the past 300years. The SPEI showed quasi 2, 5, and 10year cycles. Several pluvials and droughts with covariability over large areas were revealed clearly in the reconstruction. The two longest pluvials (lasting for 12years), separated by 50years, appeared in the 1900s and the 1960s. The most severe drought occurred from 1739 to 1761 and from 1886 to 1911 was the wettest period since 1710. Compared to previous investigations of hydroclimatic changes in the western Tianshan Mountains, our reconstruction revealed more low-frequency variability and indicated that climate in the western Tianshan Mountains shifted from dry to wet in 1886. This regime shift was generally consistent with other moisture reconstructions for the northeastern Tibetan Plateau and northern Pakistan and may have resulted from a strengthened westerly circulation. The opposite hydrological trends in the western Tianshan Mountains and southeastern Tibetan Plateau reveal a substantial influence of strengthened westerlies and weakening of the Indian summer monsoon.

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  • Speleothem evidence for late Holocene climate variability and floods in Southern Greece

    2014. Martin Finné (et al.). Quaternary Research 81 (2), 213-227


    We present stable isotope data (delta O-18, delta C-13) from a detrital rich stalagmite from Kapsia Cave, the Peloponnese, Greece. The cave is rich in archeological remains and there are reasons to believe that flooding of the cave has directly affected humans using the cave. Using a combination of U-Th and C-14 dating to constrain a site-specific correction factor for (Th-232/U-238) detrital molar ratio, a linear age model was constructed. The age model shows that the stalagmite grew during the period from ca. 950 BC to ca. AD 830. The stable oxygen record from Kapsia indicates cyclical changes of close to 500 yr in precipitation amount, with rapid shifts towards wetter conditions followed by slowly developing aridity. Superimposed on this signal, wetter conditions are inferred around 850, 700, 500 and 400-100 BC, and around AD 160-300 and AD 770; and driest conditions are inferred to have occurred around 450 BC, AD 100-150 and AD 650. Detrital horizons in the stalagmite indicate that three major floods took place in the cave at 500 BC, 70 BC and AD 450. The stable carbon isotope record reflects changes in biological activity being a result of both climate and human activities. (c) 2014 University of Washington.

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  • The effect of climate forcing on numerical simulations of the Cordilleran ice sheet at the Last Glacial Maximum

    2014. Julien Seguinot (et al.). The Cryosphere 8 (3), 1087-1103


    We present an ensemble of numerical simulations of the Cordilleran ice sheet during the Last Glacial Maximum performed with the Parallel Ice Sheet Model (PISM), applying temperature offsets to the present-day climatologies from five different data sets. Monthly mean surface air temperature and precipitation from WorldClim, the NCEP/NCAR reanalysis, the ERA-Interim reanalysis, the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis and the North American Regional Reanalysis are used to compute surface mass balance in a positive degree-day model. Modelled ice sheet outlines and volumes appear highly sensitive to the choice of climate forcing. For three of the four reanalysis data sets used, differences in precipitation are the major source for discrepancies between model results. We assess model performance against a geomorphological reconstruction of the ice margin at the Last Glacial Maximum, and suggest that part of the mismatch is due to unresolved orographic precipitation effects caused by the coarse resolution of reanalysis data. The best match between model output and the reconstructed ice margin is obtained using the high-resolution North American Regional Reanalysis, which we retain for simulations of the Cordilleran ice sheet in the future.

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  • A robust mode of climate variability in the Arctic

    2013. Hans W. Chen (et al.). Geophysical Research Letters 40 (11), 2856-2861


    The Barents Oscillation (BO) is an anomalous wintertime atmospheric circulation pattern in the Northern Hemisphere that has been linked to the meridional flow over the Nordic Seas. There are speculations that the BO has important implications for the Arctic climate; however, it has also been suggested that the pattern is an artifact of Empirical Orthogonal Function (EOF) analysis due to an eastward shift of the Arctic Oscillation/North Atlantic Oscillation (AO/NAO). In this study, EOF analyses are performed to show that a robust pattern resembling the BO can be found during different time periods, even when the AO/NAO is relatively stationary. This BO has a high and stable temporal correlation with the geostrophic zonal wind over the Barents Sea, while the contribution from the AO/NAO is small. The surface air temperature anomalies over the Barents Sea are closely associated with this mode of climate variability.

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  • Evidence of a large cooling between 1690 and 1740 AD in southern Africa

    2013. Hanna S. Sundqvist (et al.). Scientific Reports 3, 1767


    A 350-year-long, well-dated delta O-18 stalagmite record from the summer rainfall region in South Africa is positively correlated with regional air surface temperatures at interannual time scales. The coldest period documented in this record occurred between 1690 and 1740, slightly lagging the Maunder Minimum (1645-1710). A temperature reconstruction, based on the correlation between regional surface temperatures and the stalagmite delta O-18 variations, indicates that parts of this period could have been as much as 1.4 degrees C colder than today. Significant cycles of 22, 11 and 4.8 years demonstrate that the solar magnetic and the El Nino-Southern Oscillation cycle could be important drivers of multidecadal to interannual climate variability in this region. The observation that the most important driver of stalagmite delta O-18 on interannual time scales from this subtropical region is regional surface temperature cautions against deterministic interpretations of delta O-18 variations in low-latitude stalagmites as mainly driven by the amount of precipitation.

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  • How well do reanalyses represent the southern African precipitation?

    2013. Qiong Zhang, Heiner Körnich, Karin Holmgren. Climate Dynamics 40 (3-4), 951-962


    Monthly-mean precipitation observations over southern Africa are used to evaluate the performance of eight global reanalyses: ERA-40, ERA-interim, JRA-25, MERRA, CFSR, NCEP-R1, NCEP-R2 and 20CRv2. All eight reanalyses reproduce the regionally averaged seasonal cycle fairly well; a few spatial mismatches with the observations are found in the climate mean for the rainy season. Principal component analyses show a dipole in the leading modes of all reanalyses, however with crucial differences in its spatial position. Possible reasons for the differences between the reanalyses are discussed on the basis of the ERA-interim and 20CRv2 results. A comparison between the moisture transports shows that ERA-interim manifests a very strong moisture convergence over the eastern equatorial Atlantic, resulting in the strong precipitation here. This excessive convergence may be due to the water-vapor assimilation and convection parameterization. Over the Indian Ocean, the ITCZ is shifted northward in ERA-interim compared to its position in 20CRv2. This discrepancy is most likely attributable to the meridional SST gradients in the Indian Ocean which are significantly larger in the ERA-interim than those in the 20CRv2, and the resulting atmospheric response prevents a southward shift of the ITCZ. Overall, the consistent description of the dynamical circulation of the atmosphere and the hydrological cycle appears as a crucial benchmark for reanalysis data. Based on our evaluation, the preferential reanalysis for investigating the climate variability over southern Africa is 20CRv2 that furthermore spans the longest time period, hence permitting the most precise investigations of interannual to decadal variability.

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  • An introduction to stable water isotopes in climate models: benefits of forward proxy modelling for paleoclimatology

    2010. Christophe Sturm, Qiong Zhang, David Noone. Climate of the past 6, 115-129


    Stable water isotopes have been measured in a wide range of climate archives, with the purpose of reconstructing regional climate variations. Yet the common assumption that the isotopic signal is a direct indicator of temperature proves to be misleading under certain circumstances, since its relationship with temperature also depends on e.g. atmospheric circulation and precipitation seasonality. The present article introduces the principles, benefits and caveats of using climate models with embedded water isotopes as a support for the interpretation of isotopic climate archives. A short overview of the limitations of empirical calibrations of isotopic proxy records is presented, with emphasis on the physical processes that infirm its underlying hypotheses. The simulation of climate and its associated isotopic signal, despite difficulties related to downscaling and intrinsic atmospheric variability, can provide a "transfer function" between the isotopic signal and the considered climate variable. The multi-proxy data can then be combined with model output to produce a physically consistent climate reconstruction and its confidence interval. A sensitivity study with the isotope-enabled global circulation model CAM3iso under idealised present-day, pre-industrial and mid-Holocene is presented to illustrate the impact of a changing climate on the isotope-temperature relationship.

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  • Climate change between the mid and late Holocene in northern high latitudes

    2010. Qiong Zhang (et al.). Climate of the Past 6, 609-626


    The climate response over northern high latitudesto the mid-Holocene orbital forcing has been investigated inthree types of PMIP (Paleoclimate Modelling IntercomparisonProject) simulations with different complexity of themodelled climate system. By first undertaking model-datacomparison, an objective selection method has been appliedto evaluate the capability of the climate models to reproducethe spatial response pattern seen in proxy data. The possiblefeedback mechanisms behind the climate response havebeen explored based on the selected model simulations. Subsequentmodel-model comparisons indicate the importanceof including the different physical feedbacks in the climatemodels. The comparisons between the proxy-based reconstructionsand the best fit selected simulations show that overthe northern high latitudes, summer temperature change followsclosely the insolation change and shows a commonfeature with strong warming over land and relatively weakwarming over ocean at 6 ka compared to 0 ka. Furthermore,the sea-ice-albedo positive feedback enhances this response.The reconstructions of temperature show a strongerresponse to enhanced insolation in the annual mean temperaturethan winter and summer temperature. This is verified inthe model simulations and the behaviour is attributed to thelarger contribution from the large response in autumn. Despitea smaller insolation during winter at 6 ka, a pronouncedwarming centre is found over Barents Sea in winter in thesimulations, which is also supported by the nearby northernEurasian continental and Fennoscandian reconstructions.This indicates that in the Arctic region, the response of theocean and the sea ice to the enhanced summer insolationis more important for the winter temperature than the synchronousdecrease of the insolation.

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  • Climate change between the mid and late Holocene in the northern high latitudes

    2010. Hanna S. Sundqvist (et al.). Climate of the Past 6, 591-608


    We undertake a study in two parts, where theoverall aim is to quantitatively compare results from climateproxy data with results from several climate model simulationsfrom the Paleoclimate Modelling IntercomparisonProject for the mid-Holocene period and the pre-industrial,conditions for the pan-arctic region, north of 60 N. In thisfirst paper, we survey the available published local temperatureand precipitation proxy records. We also discuss andquantifiy some uncertainties in the estimated difference inclimate between the two periods as recorded in the availabledata. The spatial distribution of available published localproxies has a marked geographical bias towards land areassurrounding the North Atlantic sector, especially Fennoscandia.The majority of the reconstructions are terrestrial, andthere is a large over-representation towards summer temperaturerecords. The available reconstructions indicate that thenorthern high latitudes were warmer in both summer, winterand the in annual mean temperature at the mid-Holocene(6000 BP±500 yrs) compared to the pre-industrial period(1500AD±500 yrs). For usage in the model-data comparisons(in Part 1), we estimate the calibration uncertainty andalso the internal variability in the proxy records, to derive acombined minimum uncertainty in the reconstructed temperaturechange between the two periods. Often, the calibrationuncertainty alone, at a certain site, exceeds the actual reconstructedclimate change at the site level. In high-density regions,however, neighbouring records can be merged into aCorrespondence to: H. S. Sundqvist( record to increase the signal-to-noise ratio. Thechallenge of producing reliable inferred climate reconstructionsfor the Holocene cannot be underestimated, consideringthe fact that the estimated temperature and precipitationfluctuations during this period are in magnitude similar to, orlower than, the uncertainties the reconstructions. We advocatea more widespread practice of archiving proxy recordsas most of the potentially available reconstructions are notpublished in digital form.

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  • Anatomizing the Ocean´s role in ENSO changes under global warming

    2008. Haijun Yang, Qiong Zhang. Journal of climate 21 (24), 6539-6555


    A revisit on observations shows that the tropical El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variability, after removing both the long-term trend and decadal variation of the background climate, has been enhanced by as much as 50% during the past 50 yr. This is inconsistent with the changes in the equatorial atmosphere, which shows a slowdown of the zonal Walker circulation and tends to stabilize the tropical coupling system. The ocean role is highlighted in this paper. The enhanced ENSO variability is attributed to the strengthened equatorial thermocline that acts as a destabilizing factor of the tropical coupling system. To quantify the dynamic effect of the ocean on the ENSO variability under the global warming, ensemble experiments are performed using a coupled climate model [Fast Ocean Atmosphere Model (FOAM)], following the “1pctto2x” scenario defined in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports. Term balance analyses on the temperature variability equation show that the anomalous upwelling of the mean vertical temperature gradient (referred as the “local term”) in the eastern equatorial Pacific is the most important destabilizing factor to the temperature variabilities. The magnitude of local term and its change are controlled by its two components: the mean vertical temperature gradient Tz and the “virtual vertical heat flux” −w′T′. The former can be viewed as the background of the latter and these two components are positively correlated. A stronger Tz is usually associated with a bigger upward heat flux −w′T′, which implies a bigger impact of thermocline depth variations on SST. The Tz is first enhanced during the transient stage of the global warming with a 1% yr−1 increase of CO2, and then reduced during the equilibrium stage with a fixed doubled CO2. This turnaround in Tz determines the turnaround of ENSO variability in the entire global warming period.

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