34 results found
Salvi P, Ceppi P, Gregory JM, 2021, Interpreting the Dependence of Cloud‐Radiative Adjustment on Forcing Agent, Geophysical Research Letters, ISSN: 0094-8276
Ceppi P, Nowack P, 2021, Observational evidence that cloud feedback amplifies global warming, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol: 118, ISSN: 0027-8424
Global warming drives changes in Earth’s cloud cover, which, in turn, may amplify or dampen climate change. This “cloud feedback” is the single most important cause of uncertainty in Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS)—the equilibrium global warming following a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Using data from Earth observations and climate model simulations, we here develop a statistical learning analysis of how clouds respond to changes in the environment. We show that global cloud feedback is dominated by the sensitivity of clouds to surface temperature and tropospheric stability. Considering changes in just these two factors, we are able to constrain global cloud feedback to 0.43 ± 0.35 W⋅m<jats:sup>−2</jats:sup>⋅K<jats:sup>−1</jats:sup> (90% confidence), implying a robustly amplifying effect of clouds on global warming and only a 0.5% chance of ECS below 2 K. We thus anticipate that our approach will enable tighter constraints on climate change projections, including its manifold socioeconomic and ecological impacts.
Chen Y-J, Hwang Y-T, Ceppi P, 2021, The impacts of cloud-radiative changes on poleward atmospheric and oceanic energy transport in a warmer climate, Journal of Climate, Pages: 1-63, ISSN: 0894-8755
Based on theory and climate model experiments, previous studies suggest most of the uncertainties in projected future changes in meridional energy transport and zonal mean surface temperature can be attributed to cloud feedback. To investigate how radiative and dynamical adjustments modify the influence of cloud-radiative changes on energy transport, this study applies a cloud-locking technique in a fully-coupled climate model, CESM. Under global warming, the impacts of cloud-radiative changes on the meridional energy transport are asymmetric in the two hemispheres. In the Northern Hemisphere, the cloud-radiative changes have little impact on energy transport, because 89% of the cloud-induced heating is balanced locally by increasing outgoing longwave radiation. In the Southern Hemisphere, on the other hand, cloud-induced dynamical changes in the atmosphere and the ocean cause enhanced poleward energy transport, accounting for most of the increase in energy transport under warming. Our experiments highlight that the local longwave radiation adjustment induced by temperature variation can partially offset the impacts of cloud-radiative changes on energy transport, making the estimated impacts smaller than those obtained from directly integrating cloud-radiative changes in previous studies. It is also demonstrated that the cloud-radiative impacts on temperature and energy transport can be significantly modulated by the oceanic circulation, suggesting the necessity of considering atmospheric-oceanic coupling when estimating the impacts of cloud-radiative changes on the climate system.
Voigt A, Albern N, Ceppi P, et al., 2021, Clouds, radiation, and atmospheric circulation in the present-day climate and under climate change, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: WIREs Climate Change, Vol: 12, Pages: 1-22, ISSN: 1757-7780
By interacting with radiation, clouds modulate the flow of energy through the Earth system, the circulation of the atmosphere, and regional climate. We review the impact of cloud‐radiation interactions for the atmospheric circulation in the present‐day climate, its internal variability and its response to climate change. After summarizing cloud‐controlling factors and cloud‐radiative effects, we clarify the scope and limits of the Clouds On‐Off Klimate Model Intercomparison Experiment (COOKIE) and cloud‐locking modeling methods. COOKIE showed that the presence of cloud‐radiative effects shapes the circulation in the present‐day climate in many important ways, including the width of the tropical rain belts and the position of the extratropical storm tracks. Cloud locking, in contrast, identified how clouds affect internal variability and the circulation response to global warming. This includes strong, but model‐dependent, shortwave and longwave cloud impacts on the El‐Nino Southern Oscillation, and the finding that most of the poleward circulation expansion in response to global warming can be attributed to radiative changes in clouds. We highlight the circulation impact of shortwave changes from low‐level clouds and longwave changes from rising high‐level clouds, and the contribution of these cloud changes to model differences in the circulation response to global warming. The review in particular draws attention to the role of cloud‐radiative heating within the atmosphere. We close by raising some open questions which, among others, concern the need for studying the cloud impact on regional scales and opportunities created by the next generation of global storm‐resolving models.
Zappa G, Ceppi P, Shepherd TG, 2021, Eurasian cooling in response to Arctic sea-ice loss is not proved by maximum covariance analysis, Nature Climate Change, Vol: 11, Pages: 106-108, ISSN: 1758-678X
Williams RG, Ceppi P, Katavouta A, 2020, Controls of the transient climate response to emissions by physical feedbacks, heat uptake and carbon cycling, Environmental Research Letters, Vol: 15, ISSN: 1748-9326
The surface warming response to carbon emissions is diagnosed using a suite of Earth system models, 9 CMIP6 and 7 CMIP5, following an annual 1\% rise in atmospheric CO$_2$ over 140 years. This surface warming response defines a climate metric, the Transient Climate Response to cumulative carbon Emissions (TCRE), which is important in estimating how much carbon may be emitted to avoid dangerous climate. The processes controlling these intermodel differences in the TCRE are revealed by defining the TCRE in terms of a product of three dependences: the surface warming dependence on radiative forcing (including the effects of physical climate feedbacks and planetary heat uptake), the radiative forcing dependence on changes in atmospheric carbon and the airborne fraction. Intermodel differences in the TCRE are mainly controlled by the thermal response involving the surface warming dependence on radiative forcing, which arise through large differences in physical climate feedbacks that are only partly compensated by smaller differences in ocean heat uptake. The other contributions to the TCRE from the radiative forcing and carbon responses are of comparable importance to the contribution from the thermal response on timescales of 50 years and longer for our subset of CMIP5 models and 100 years and longer for our subset of CMIP6 models. Hence, providing tighter constraints on how much carbon may be emitted based on the TCRE requires providing tighter bounds for estimates of the physical climate feedbacks, particularly from clouds, as well as to a lesser extent for the other contributions from the rate of ocean heat uptake, and the terrestrial and ocean cycling of carbon.
Curtis PE, Ceppi P, Zappa G, 2020, Role of the mean state for the Southern Hemispheric Jet Stream response to CO₂ forcing in CMIP6 models, Environmental Research Letters, Vol: 15, Pages: 1-7, ISSN: 1748-9326
Global climate models indicate that the Southern Hemispheric (SH) jet stream shifts poleward in response to CO2 forcing, but the magnitude of this shift remains highly uncertain. Here we analyse the SH jet stream response to 4×CO2 forcing in Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 6 (CMIP6) simulations, and find a substantially muted jet shift during winter compared with CMIP5. We suggest this muted response results from a more poleward mean jet position, consistent with a strongly reduced bias in jet position relative to the reanalysis during 1980--2004. The improved mean jet position cannot be explained by changes in the simulated sea surface temperatures. Instead, we find indications that increased horizontal grid resolution in CMIP6 relative to CMIP5 has contributed to the higher mean jet latitude, and thus to the reduced jet shift under CO2 forcing. These results imply that CMIP6 models can provide more realistic projections of SH climate change.
Zappa G, Ceppi P, Shepherd TG, 2020, Time-evolving sea-surface warming patterns modulate the climate change response of subtropical precipitation over land, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol: 117, Pages: 4539-4545, ISSN: 0027-8424
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions affect precipitation worldwide. The response is commonly described by two timescales linked to different processes: a rapid adjustment to radiative forcing, followed by a slower response to surface warming. However, additional timescales exist in the surface-warming response, tied to the time evolution of the sea-surface-temperature (SST) response. Here, we show that in climate model projections, the rapid adjustment and surface mean warming are insufficient to explain the time evolution of the hydro-climate response in three key Mediterranean-like areas—namely, California, Chile, and the Mediterranean. The time evolution of those responses critically depends on distinct shifts in the regional atmospheric circulation associated with the existence of distinct fast and slow SST warming patterns. As a result, Mediterranean and Chilean drying are in quasiequilibrium with GHG concentrations, meaning that the drying will not continue after GHG concentrations are stabilized, whereas California wetting will largely emerge only after GHG concentrations are stabilized. The rapid adjustment contributes to a reduction in precipitation, but has a limited impact on the balance between precipitation and evaporation. In these Mediterranean-like regions, future hydro-climate–related impacts will be substantially modulated by the time evolution of the pattern of SST warming that is realized in the real world.
Ceppi P, Gregory J, 2020, Climate sensitivity: What is it, and why is it important?, Climate sensitivity: What is it, and why is it important?, Publisher: The Grantham Institute, 11
Climate sensitivity is a fundamental measure of global climate change. This briefing paper explains how climate sensitivity is estimated from different lines of evidence – modelling, observations, and palaeoclimate records – and why its exact value remains uncertain.
Zelinka MD, Myers TA, McCoy DT, et al., 2020, Causes of higher climate sensitivity in CMIP6 models, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol: 47, ISSN: 0094-8276
Equilibrium climate sensitivity, the global surface temperature response to CO urn:x-wiley:grl:media:grl60047:grl60047-math-0001 doubling, has been persistently uncertain. Recent consensus places it likely within 1.5–4.5 K. Global climate models (GCMs), which attempt to represent all relevant physical processes, provide the most direct means of estimating climate sensitivity via CO urn:x-wiley:grl:media:grl60047:grl60047-math-0002 quadrupling experiments. Here we show that the closely related effective climate sensitivity has increased substantially in Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 6 (CMIP6), with values spanning 1.8–5.6 K across 27 GCMs and exceeding 4.5 K in 10 of them. This (statistically insignificant) increase is primarily due to stronger positive cloud feedbacks from decreasing extratropical low cloud coverage and albedo. Both of these are tied to the physical representation of clouds which in CMIP6 models lead to weaker responses of extratropical low cloud cover and water content to unforced variations in surface temperature. Establishing the plausibility of these higher sensitivity models is imperative given their implied societal ramifications.
Lin Y, Hwang Y, Ceppi P, et al., 2019, Uncertainty in the evolution of climate feedback traced to the strength of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol: 46, Pages: 12331-12339, ISSN: 0094-8276
In most coupled climate models, effective climate sensitivity increases for a few decades following an abrupt CO2 increase. The change in the climate feedback parameter between the first 20 years and the subsequent 130 years is highly model dependent. In this study, we suggest that the intermodel spread of changes in climate feedback can be partially traced to the evolution of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. Models with stronger Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation recovery tend to project more amplified warming in the Northern Hemisphere a few decades after a quadrupling of CO2. Tropospheric stability then decreases as the Northern Hemisphere gets warmer, which leads to an increase in both the lapse‐rate and shortwave cloud feedbacks. Our results suggest that constraining future ocean circulation changes will be necessary for accurate climate sensitivity projections.
Ceppi P, Shepherd TG, 2019, Contributions of climate feedbacks to changes in atmospheric circulation, Journal of Climate, Vol: 30, Pages: 9097-9118, ISSN: 0894-8755
The projected response of the atmospheric circulation to the radiative changes induced by CO2 forcing and climate feedbacks is currently uncertain. In this modeling study, the impact of CO2-induced climate feedbacks on changes in jet latitude and speed is assessed by imposing surface albedo, cloud, and water vapor feedbacks as if they were forcings in two climate models, CAM4 and ECHAM6. The jet response to radiative feedbacks can be broadly interpreted through changes in midlatitude baroclinicity. Clouds enhance baroclinicity, favoring a strengthened, poleward-shifted jet; this is mitigated by surface albedo changes, which have the opposite effect on baroclinicity and the jet, while water vapor has opposing effects on upper- and lower-level baroclinicity with little net impact on the jet. Large differences between the CAM4 and ECHAM6 responses illustrate how model uncertainty in radiative feedbacks causes a large spread in the baroclinicity response to CO2 forcing. Across the CMIP5 models, differences in shortwave feedbacks by clouds and albedo are a dominant contribution to this spread. Forcing CAM4 with shortwave cloud and albedo feedbacks from a representative set of CMIP5 models yields a wide range of jet responses that strongly correlate with the meridional gradient of the anomalous shortwave heating and the associated baroclinicity response. Differences in shortwave feedbacks statistically explain about 50% of the intermodel spread in CMIP5 jet shifts for the set of models used, demonstrating the importance of constraining radiative feedbacks for accurate projections of circulation changes.
Gregory JM, Andrews T, Ceppi P, et al., 2019, How accurately can the climate sensitivity to CO₂ be estimated from historical climate change?, Climate Dynamics, Vol: 54, Pages: 129-157, ISSN: 0930-7575
The equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS, in K) to CO2 doubling is a large source of uncertainty in projections of future anthropogenic climate change. Estimates of ECS made from non-equilibrium states or in response to radiative forcings other than 2×CO2 are called “effective climate sensitivity” (EffCS, in K). Taking a “perfect-model” approach, using coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation model (AOGCM) experiments, we evaluate the accuracy with which CO2 EffCS can be estimated from climate change in the “historical” period (since about 1860). We find that (1) for statistical reasons, unforced variability makes the estimate of historical EffCS both uncertain and biased; it is overestimated by about 10% if the energy balance is applied to the entire historical period, 20% for 30-year periods, and larger factors for interannual variability, (2) systematic uncertainty in historical radiative forcing translates into an uncertainty of ±30to45% (standard deviation) in historical EffCS, (3) the response to the changing relative importance of the forcing agents, principally CO2 and volcanic aerosol, causes historical EffCS to vary over multidecadal timescales by a factor of two. In recent decades it reached its maximum in the AOGCM historical experiment (similar to the multimodel-mean CO2 EffCS of 3.6 K from idealised experiments), but its minimum in the real world (1.6 K for an observational estimate for 1985–2011, similar to the multimodel-mean value for volcanic forcing). The real-world variations mean that historical EffCS underestimates CO2 EffCS by 30% when considering the entire historical period. The difference for recent decades implies that either unforced variability or the response to volcanic forcing causes a much stronger regional pattern of sea surface temperature change in the real world than in AOGCMs. We speculate that this could be explained by a deficiency in simulated coupled atmosphere
Ceppi P, Gregory JM, 2019, A refined model for the Earth’s global energy balance, Climate Dynamics, Vol: 53, Pages: 4781-4797, ISSN: 0930-7575
A commonly-used model of the global radiative budget assumes that the radiative response to forcing, R, is proportional to global surface air temperature T, R= λT. Previous studies have highlighted two unresolved issues with this model: first, the feedback parameter λ depends on the forcing agent; second, λ varies with time. Here, we investigate the factors controlling R in two atmosphere–slab ocean climate models subjected to a wide range of abrupt climate forcings. It is found that R scales not only with T, but also with the large-scale tropospheric stability S (defined here as the estimated inversion strength area-averaged over ocean regions equatorward of 50∘). Positive S promotes negative R, mainly through shortwave cloud and lapse-rate changes. A refined model of the global energy balance is proposed that accounts for both temperature and stability effects. This refined model quantitatively explains (1) the dependence of climate feedbacks on forcing agent (or equivalently, differences in forcing efficacy), and (2) the time evolution of feedbacks in coupled climate model experiments. Furthermore, a similar relationship between R and S is found in observations compared with models, lending confidence that the refined energy balance model is applicable to the real world.
Ceppi P, Shepherd TG, 2019, The role of the stratospheric polar vortex for the austral jet response to greenhouse gas forcing, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol: 46, Pages: 6972-6979, ISSN: 0094-8276
Future shifts of the austral midlatitude jet are subject to large uncertainties in climate model projections. Here we show that, in addition to other previously identified sources of intermodel uncertainty, changes in the timing of the stratospheric polar vortex breakdown modulate the austral jet response to greenhouse gas forcing during summertime (December–February). The relationship is such that a larger delay in vortex breakdown favors a more poleward jet shift, with an estimated 0.7–0.8° increase in jet shift per 10-day delay in vortex breakdown. The causality of the link between the timing of the vortex breakdown and the tropospheric jet response is demonstrated through climate modeling experiments with imposed changes in the seasonality of the stratospheric polar vortex. The vortex response is estimated to account for about 30% of the intermodel variance in the shift of the summertime austral jet and about 45% of the mean jet shift.
Thompson DWJ, Ceppi P, Li Y, 2019, A robust constraint on the temperature and height of the extratropical tropopause, Journal of Climate, Vol: 32, Pages: 273-287, ISSN: 0894-8755
In a recent study, the authors hypothesize that the Clausius–Clapeyron relation provides a strong constraint on the temperature of the extratropical tropopause and hence the depth of mixing by extratropical eddies. The hypothesis is a generalization of the fixed-anvil temperature hypothesis to the global atmospheric circulation. It posits that the depth of robust mixing by extratropical eddies is limited by radiative cooling by water vapor—and hence saturation vapor pressures—in areas of sinking motion. The hypothesis implies that 1) radiative cooling by water vapor constrains the vertical structure and amplitude of extratropical dynamics and 2) the extratropical tropopause should remain at roughly the same temperature and lift under global warming. Here the authors test the hypothesis in numerical simulations run on an aquaplanet general circulation model (GCM) and a coupled atmosphere–ocean GCM (AOGCM). The extratropical cloud-top height, wave driving, and lapse-rate tropopause all shift upward but remain at roughly the same temperature when the aquaplanet GCM is forced by uniform surface warming of +4 K and when the AOGCM is forced by RCP8.5 scenario emissions. “Locking” simulations run on the aquaplanet GCM further reveal that 1) holding the water vapor concentrations input into the radiation code fixed while increasing surface temperatures strongly constrains the rise in the extratropical tropopause, whereas 2) increasing the water vapor concentrations input into the radiation code while holding surface temperatures fixed leads to robust rises in the extratropical tropopause. Together, the results suggest that roughly invariant extratropical tropopause temperatures constitutes an additional “robust response” of the climate system to global warming.
Ceppi P, Zappa G, Shepherd TG, et al., 2018, Fast and slow components of the extratropical atmospheric circulation response to CO2 forcing, Journal of Climate, Vol: 31, Pages: 1091-1105, ISSN: 0894-8755
Poleward shifts of the extratropical atmospheric circulation are a common response to CO2 forcing in global climate models (GCMs), but little is known about the time dependence of this response. Here it is shown that in coupled climate models, the long-term evolution of sea surface temperatures (SSTs) induces two distinct time scales of circulation response to steplike CO2 forcing. In most GCMs from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project as well as in the multimodel mean, all of the poleward shift of the midlatitude jets and Hadley cell edge occurs in a fast response within 5–10 years of the forcing, during which less than half of the expected equilibrium warming is realized. Compared with this fast response, the slow response over subsequent decades to centuries features stronger polar amplification (especially in the Antarctic), enhanced warming in the Southern Ocean, an El Niño–like pattern of tropical Pacific warming, and weaker land–sea contrast. Atmosphere-only GCM experiments demonstrate that the SST evolution drives the difference between the fast and slow circulation responses, although the direct radiative effect of CO2 also contributes to the fast response. It is further shown that the fast and slow responses determine the long-term evolution of the circulation response to warming in the representative concentration pathway 4.5 (RCP4.5) scenario. The results imply that shifts in midlatitude circulation generally scale with the radiative forcing, rather than with global-mean temperature change. A corollary is that time slices taken from a transient simulation at a given level of warming will considerably overestimate the extratropical circulation response in a stabilized climate.
Ceppi P, Gregory JM, 2017, Relationship of tropospheric stability to climate sensitivity and Earth's observed radiation budget, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol: 114, Pages: 13126-13131, ISSN: 0027-8424
Climate feedbacks generally become smaller in magnitude over time under CO2 forcing in coupled climate models, leading to an increase in the effective climate sensitivity, the estimated global-mean surface warming in steady state for doubled CO2. Here, we show that the evolution of climate feedbacks in models is consistent with the effect of a change in tropospheric stability, as has recently been hypothesized, and the latter is itself driven by the evolution of the pattern of sea-surface temperature response. The change in climate feedback is mainly associated with a decrease in marine tropical low cloud (a more positive shortwave cloud feedback) and with a less negative lapse-rate feedback, as expected from a decrease in stability. Smaller changes in surface albedo and humidity feedbacks also contribute to the overall change in feedback, but are unexplained by stability. The spatial pattern of feedback changes closely matches the pattern of stability changes, with the largest increase in feedback occurring in the tropical East Pacific. Relationships qualitatively similar to those in the models among sea-surface temperature pattern, stability, and radiative budget are also found in observations on interannual time scales. Our results suggest that constraining the future evolution of sea-surface temperature patterns and tropospheric stability will be necessary for constraining climate sensitivity.
Tan X, Bao M, Hartmann DL, et al., 2017, The role of synoptic waves in the formation and maintenance of the Western Hemisphere circulation pattern, Journal of Climate, Vol: 30, Pages: 10259-10274, ISSN: 0894-8755
Previous studies have demonstrated that the NAO, the leading mode of atmospheric low-frequency variability over the North Atlantic, could be linked to northeast Pacific climate variability via the downstream propagation of synoptic waves. In those studies, the NAO and the northeast Pacific climate variability are considered as two separate modes that explain the variance over the North Atlantic sector and the east Pacific–North American sector, respectively. A newly identified low-frequency atmospheric regime—the Western Hemisphere (WH) circulation pattern—provides a unique example of a mode of variability that accounts for variance over the whole North Atlantic–North American–North Pacific sector. The role of synoptic waves in the formation and maintenance of the WH pattern is investigated using the ECMWF reanalysis datasets. Persistent WH events are characterized by the propagation of quasi-stationary Rossby waves across the North Pacific–North American–North Atlantic regions and by associated storm-track anomalies. The eddy-induced low-frequency height anomalies maintain the anomalous low-frequency ridge over the Gulf of Alaska, which induces more equatorward propagation of synoptic waves on its downstream side. The eddy forcing favors the strengthening of the midlatitude jet and the deepening of the mid-to-high-latitude trough over the North Atlantic, whereas the deepening of the trough over eastern North America mostly arises from the quasi-stationary waves propagating from the North Pacific. A case study for the 2013/14 winter is examined to illustrate the downstream development of synoptic waves. The roles of synoptic waves in the formation and maintenance of the WH pattern and in linking the northeast Pacific ridge anomaly with the NAO are discussed.
Bao M, Tan X, Hartmann DL, et al., 2017, Classifying the tropospheric precursor patterns of sudden stratospheric warmings, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol: 44, Pages: 8011-8016, ISSN: 0094-8276
Classifying the tropospheric precursor patterns of sudden stratospheric warmings (SSWs) may provide insight into the different physical mechanisms of SSWs. Based on 37 major SSWs during the 1958–2014 winters in the ERA reanalysis data sets, the self‐organizing maps method is used to classify the tropospheric precursor patterns of SSWs. The cluster analysis indicates that one of the precursor patterns appears as a mixed pattern consisting of the negative‐signed Western Hemisphere circulation pattern and the positive phase of the Pacific‐North America pattern. The mixed pattern exhibits higher statistical significance as a precursor pattern of SSWs than other previously identified precursors such as the subpolar North Pacific low, Atlantic blocking, and the western Pacific pattern. Other clusters confirm northern European blocking and Gulf of Alaska blocking as precursors of SSWs. Linear interference with the climatological planetary waves provides a simple interpretation for the precursors. The relationship between the classified precursor patterns of SSWs and ENSO phases as well as the types of SSWs is discussed.
Ceppi P, Brient F, Zelinka MD, et al., 2017, Cloud feedback mechanisms and their representation in global climate models, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: WIREs Climate Change, Vol: 8, ISSN: 1757-7780
Cloud feedback—the change in top‐of‐atmosphere radiative flux resulting from the cloud response to warming—constitutes by far the largest source of uncertainty in the climate response to CO2 forcing simulated by global climate models (GCMs). We review the main mechanisms for cloud feedbacks, and discuss their representation in climate models and the sources of intermodel spread. Global‐mean cloud feedback in GCMs results from three main effects: (1) rising free‐tropospheric clouds (a positive longwave effect); (2) decreasing tropical low cloud amount (a positive shortwave [SW] effect); (3) increasing high‐latitude low cloud optical depth (a negative SW effect). These cloud responses simulated by GCMs are qualitatively supported by theory, high‐resolution modeling, and observations. Rising high clouds are consistent with the fixed anvil temperature (FAT) hypothesis, whereby enhanced upper‐tropospheric radiative cooling causes anvil cloud tops to remain at a nearly fixed temperature as the atmosphere warms. Tropical low cloud amount decreases are driven by a delicate balance between the effects of vertical turbulent fluxes, radiative cooling, large‐scale subsidence, and lower‐tropospheric stability on the boundary‐layer moisture budget. High‐latitude low cloud optical depth increases are dominated by phase changes in mixed‐phase clouds. The causes of intermodel spread in cloud feedback are discussed, focusing particularly on the role of unresolved parameterized processes such as cloud microphysics, turbulence, and convection.
Ceppi P, McCoy DT, Hartmann DL, 2016, Observational evidence for a negative shortwave cloud feedback in middle to high latitudes, GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, Vol: 43, Pages: 1331-1339, ISSN: 0094-8276
Ceppi P, Hartmann DL, Webb MJ, 2016, Mechanisms of the negative shortwave cloud feedback in middle to high latitudes, Journal of Climate, Vol: 29, Pages: 139-157, ISSN: 0894-8755
Increases in cloud optical depth and liquid water path (LWP) are robust features of global warming model simulations in high latitudes, yielding a negative shortwave cloud feedback, but the mechanisms are still uncertain. Here the importance of microphysical processes for the negative optical depth feedback is assessed by perturbing temperature in the microphysics schemes of two aquaplanet models, both of which have separate prognostic equations for liquid water and ice. It is found that most of the LWP increase with warming is caused by a suppression of ice microphysical processes in mixed-phase clouds, resulting in reduced conversion efficiencies of liquid water to ice and precipitation. Perturbing the temperature-dependent phase partitioning of convective condensate also yields a small LWP increase. Together, the perturbations in large-scale microphysics and convective condensate partitioning explain more than two-thirds of the LWP response relative to a reference case with increased SSTs, and capture all of the vertical structure of the liquid water response. In support of these findings, a very robust positive relationship between monthly mean LWP and temperature in CMIP5 models and observations is shown to exist in mixed-phase cloud regions only. In models, the historical LWP sensitivity to temperature is a good predictor of the forced global warming response poleward of about 45°, although models appear to overestimate the LWP response to warming compared to observations. The results indicate that in climate models, the suppression of ice-phase microphysical processes that deplete cloud liquid water is a key driver of the LWP increase with warming and of the associated negative shortwave cloud feedback.
Ceppi P, Hartmann DL, 2016, Clouds and the Atmospheric Circulation Response to Warming, JOURNAL OF CLIMATE, Vol: 29, Pages: 783-799, ISSN: 0894-8755
McCoy DT, Hartmann DL, Zelinka MD, et al., 2015, Mixed-phase cloud physics and Southern Ocean cloud feedback in climate models, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Vol: 120, Pages: 9539-9554, ISSN: 2169-897X
Increasing optical depth poleward of 45° is a robust response to warming in global climate models. Much of this cloud optical depth increase has been hypothesized to be due to transitions from ice‐dominated to liquid‐dominated mixed‐phase cloud. In this study, the importance of liquid‐ice partitioning for the optical depth feedback is quantified for 19 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 models. All models show a monotonic partitioning of ice and liquid as a function of temperature, but the temperature at which ice and liquid are equally mixed (the glaciation temperature) varies by as much as 40 K across models. Models that have a higher glaciation temperature are found to have a smaller climatological liquid water path (LWP) and condensed water path and experience a larger increase in LWP as the climate warms. The ice‐liquid partitioning curve of each model may be used to calculate the response of LWP to warming. It is found that the repartitioning between ice and liquid in a warming climate contributes at least 20% to 80% of the increase in LWP as the climate warms, depending on model. Intermodel differences in the climatological partitioning between ice and liquid are estimated to contribute at least 20% to the intermodel spread in the high‐latitude LWP response in the mixed‐phase region poleward of 45°S. It is hypothesized that a more thorough evaluation and constraint of global climate model mixed‐phase cloud parameterizations and validation of the total condensate and ice‐liquid apportionment against observations will yield a substantial reduction in model uncertainty in the high‐latitude cloud response to warming.
Ceppi P, Hartmann DL, 2015, Connections between clouds, radiation, and midlatitude dynamics: a review, Current Climate Change Reports, Vol: 1, Pages: 94-102, ISSN: 2198-6061
We review the effects of dynamical variability on clouds and radiation in observations and models and discuss their implications for cloud feedbacks. Jet shifts produce robust meridional dipoles in upper-level clouds and longwave cloud-radiative effect (CRE), but low-level clouds, which do not simply shift with the jet, dominate the shortwave CRE. Because the effect of jet variability on CRE is relatively small, future poleward jet shifts with global warming are only a second-order contribution to the total CRE changes around the midlatitudes, suggesting a dominant role for thermodynamic effects. This implies that constraining the dynamical response is unlikely to reduce the uncertainty in extratropical cloud feedback. However, we argue that uncertainty in the cloud-radiative response does affect the atmospheric circulation response to global warming, by modulating patterns of diabatic forcing. How cloud feedbacks can affect the dynamical response to global warming is an important topic of future research.
Ceppi P, Zelinka MD, Hartmann DL, 2014, The response of the Southern Hemispheric eddy-driven jet to future changes in shortwave radiation in CMIP5, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol: 41, Pages: 3244-3250, ISSN: 0094-8276
A strong relationship is found between changes in the meridional gradient of absorbed shortwave radiation (ASR) and Southern Hemispheric jet shifts in 21st century climate simulations of CMIP5 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5) coupled models. The relationship is such that models with increases in the meridional ASR gradient around the southern midlatitudes, and therefore increases in midlatitude baroclinicity, tend to produce a larger poleward jet shift. The ASR changes are shown to be dominated by changes in cloud properties, with sea ice declines playing a secondary role. We demonstrate that the ASR changes are the cause, and not the result, of the intermodel differences in jet response by comparing coupled simulations with experiments in which sea surface temperature increases are prescribed. Our results highlight the importance of reducing the uncertainty in cloud feedbacks in order to constrain future circulation changes.
Hartmann DL, Ceppi P, 2014, Trends in the CERES dataset, 2000-13: the effects of sea ice and jet shifts and comparison to climate models, Journal of Climate, Vol: 27, Pages: 2444-2456, ISSN: 0894-8755
The Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) observations of global top-of-atmosphere radiative energy fluxes for the period March 2000–February 2013 are examined for robust trends and variability. The trend in Arctic ice is clearly evident in the time series of reflected shortwave radiation, which closely follows the record of ice extent. The data indicate that, for every 106 km2 decrease in September sea ice extent, annual-mean absorbed solar radiation averaged over 75°–90°N increases by 2.5 W m−2, or about 6 W m−2 between 2000 and 2012. CMIP5 models generally show a much smaller change in sea ice extent over the 1970–2012 period, but the relationship of sea ice extent to reflected shortwave is in good agreement with recent observations. Another robust trend during this period is an increase in reflected shortwave radiation in the zonal belt from 45° to 65°S. This trend is mostly related to increases in sea ice concentrations in the Southern Ocean and less directly related to cloudiness trends associated with the annular variability of the Southern Hemisphere. Models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) produce a scaling of cloud reflection to zonal wind increase that is similar to trend observations in regions separated from the direct effects of sea ice. Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP) model responses over the Southern Ocean are not consistent with each other or with the observed shortwave trends in regions removed from the direct effect of sea ice.
Ceppi P, Hwang Y-T, Liu X, et al., 2013, The relationship between the ITCZ and the Southern Hemispheric eddy-driven jet, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Vol: 118, Pages: 5136-5146, ISSN: 2169-897X
 We study the effect of a thermal forcing confined to the midlatitudes of one hemisphere on the eddy‐driven jet in the opposite hemisphere. We demonstrate the existence of an “interhemispheric teleconnection,” whereby warming (cooling) the Northern Hemisphere causes both the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) and the Southern Hemispheric midlatitude jet to shift northward (southward). The interhemispheric teleconnection is effected by a change in the asymmetry of the Hadley cells: as the ITCZ shifts away from the Equator, the cross‐equatorial Hadley cell intensifies, fluxing more momentum toward the subtropics and sustaining a stronger subtropical jet. Changes in subtropical jet strength, in turn, alter the propagation of extratropical waves into the tropics, affecting eddy momentum fluxes and the eddy‐driven westerlies. The relevance of this mechanism is demonstrated in the context of future climate change simulations, where shifts of the ITCZ are significantly related to shifts of the Southern Hemispheric eddy‐driven jet in austral winter. The possible relevance of the proposed mechanism to paleoclimates is discussed, particularly with regard to theories of ice age terminations.
Ceppi P, Hartmann DL, 2013, On the speed of the eddy-driven jet and the width of the hadley cell in the Southern Hemisphere, Journal of Climate, Vol: 26, Pages: 3450-3465, ISSN: 0894-8755
A strong correlation between the speed of the eddy-driven jet and the width of the Hadley cell is found to exist in the Southern Hemisphere, both in reanalysis data and in twenty-first-century integrations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report multimodel archive. Analysis of the space–time spectra of eddy momentum flux reveals that variations in eddy-driven jet speed are related to changes in the mean phase speed of midlatitude eddies. An increase in eddy phase speeds induces a poleward shift of the critical latitudes and a poleward expansion of the region of subtropical wave breaking. The associated changes in eddy momentum flux convergence are balanced by anomalous meridional winds consistent with a wider Hadley cell. At the same time, faster eddies are also associated with a strengthened poleward eddy momentum flux, sustaining a stronger westerly jet in midlatitudes. The proposed mechanism is consistent with the seasonal dependence of the interannual variability of the Hadley cell width and appears to explain at least part of the projected twenty-first-century trends.
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