Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Physics

Lecturer in Climate Science



+44 (0)20 7594 1710p.ceppi Website




Sherfield BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Publication Type

37 results found

Breul P, Ceppi P, Shepherd TG, 2022, Relationship between southern hemispheric jet variability and forced response: the role of the stratosphere, Weather and Climate Dynamics, Vol: 3, Pages: 645-658, ISSN: 2698-4016

Climate models show a wide range of southern hemispheric jet responses to greenhouse gas forcing. One approach to constrain the future jet response is by utilising the fluctuation–dissipation theorem (FDT) which links the forced response to internal variability timescales, with the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) the most dominant mode of variability of the southern hemispheric jet. We show that interannual stratospheric variability approximately doubles the SAM timescale during austral summer in both re-analysis data and models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, Phases 5 (CMIP5) and 6 (CMIP6). Using a simple barotropic model, we demonstrate how the enhanced SAM timescale subsequently leads to an overestimate of the forced jet response based on the FDT, and we introduce a method to correct for the stratospheric influence. This result helps to resolve a previously identified discrepancy between the seasonality of jet response and the internal variability timescale. However, even after accounting for this influence, the SAM timescale cannot explain inter-model differences in the forced jet shift across CMIP models during austral summer.

Journal article

Salvi P, Ceppi P, Gregory JM, 2022, Interpreting differences in radiative feedbacks from aerosols versus greenhouse gases, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol: 49, Pages: 1-9, ISSN: 0094-8276

Experiments with seven Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 6 models were used to assess the climate feedback parameter for net historical, historical greenhouse gas (GHG) and anthropogenic aerosol forcings. The net radiative feedback is found to be more amplifying (higher effective climate sensitivity) for aerosol than GHG forcing, and hence also less amplifying for net historical (GHG + aerosol) than GHG only. We demonstrate that this difference is consistent with their different latitudinal distributions. Historical aerosol forcing is most pronounced in northern extratropics, where the boundary layer is decoupled from the free troposphere, so the consequent temperature change is confined to low altitude and causes low-level cloud changes. This is caused by change in stability, which also affects upper-tropospheric clear-sky emission, affecting both shortwave and longwave radiative feedbacks. This response is a feature of extratropical forcing generally, regardless of its sign or hemisphere.

Journal article

Salvi P, Ceppi P, Gregory JM, 2022, Interpreting differences in radiative feedbacks from aerosols versus greenhouse gases, Publisher: ESSOAr

Experiments with six CMIP6 models were used to assess the climate feedback parameter for net historical, historical greenhouse gas (GHG) and anthropogenic aerosol forcings. The net radiative feedback is found to be more amplifying (higher effective climate sensitivity) for aerosol than GHG forcing, and hence also more amplifying for net historical (GHG + aerosol) than GHG only. We demonstrate that this difference is consistent with their different latitudinal distributions. Historical aerosol forcing is most pronounced in northern extratropics, where the boundary layer is decoupled from the free troposphere, so the consequent temperature change is confined to low altitude and causes low-level cloud changes. This is caused by change in stability which also affects upper-tropospheric clearsky emission, both affecting shortwave and longwave radiative feedbacks. This response is a feature of extratropical forcing generally, regardless of its sign or hemisphere.

Working paper

Ceppi P, Fueglistaler S, 2021, The El Niño–Southern Oscillation pattern effect, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol: 48, Pages: 1-9, ISSN: 0094-8276

El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variability is accompanied by out-of-phase anomalies in the top-of-atmosphere tropical radiation budget, with anomalous downward flux (i.e., net radiative heating) before El Niño and anomalous upward flux thereafter (and vice versa for La Niña). Here, we show that these radiative anomalies result mainly from a sea surface temperature (SST) “pattern effect,” mediated by changes in tropical-mean tropospheric stability. These stability changes are caused by SST anomalies migrating from climatologically cool to warm regions over the ENSO cycle. Our results are suggestive of a two-way coupling between SST variability and radiation, where ENSO-induced radiative changes may in turn feed back onto SST during ENSO.

Journal article

Salvi P, Ceppi P, Gregory JM, 2021, Interpreting the dependence of cloud‐radiative adjustment on forcing agent, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol: 48, ISSN: 0094-8276

Effective radiative forcing includes a contribution by rapid adjustments, that is, changes in temperature, water vapor, and clouds that modify the energy budget. Cloud adjustments in particular have been shown to depend strongly on forcing agent. We perform idealized atmospheric heating experiments to demonstrate a relationship between cloud adjustment and the vertical profile of imposed radiative heating: boundary-layer heating causes a positive cloud adjustment (a net downward radiative anomaly), while free-tropospheric heating yields a negative adjustment. This dependence is dominated by the shortwave effect of changes in low clouds. Much of the variation in cloud adjustment among common forcing agents such as CO2, CH4, solar forcing, and black carbon is explained by the “characteristic altitude” (i.e., the vertical center-of-mass) of their heating profiles, through its effect on tropospheric stability.

Journal article

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.

Journal article

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, Vol: 34, Pages: 7857-7874, 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.

Journal article

Voigt A, Albern N, Ceppi P, Grise K, Li Y, Medeiros Bet 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.

Journal article

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

Journal article

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.

Journal article

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.

Journal article

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.

Journal article

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, PoChedley S, Caldwell PM, Ceppi P, Klein SA, Taylor KEet 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.

Journal article

Lin Y, Hwang Y, Ceppi P, Gregory Jet 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.

Journal article

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.

Journal article

Gregory JM, Andrews T, Ceppi P, Mauritsen T, Webb MJet 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

Journal article

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.

Journal article

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.

Journal article

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.

Journal article

Ceppi P, Zappa G, Shepherd TG, Gregory JMet 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.

Journal article

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.

Journal article

Tan X, Bao M, Hartmann DL, Ceppi Pet 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.

Journal article

Bao M, Tan X, Hartmann DL, Ceppi Pet 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.

Journal article

Ceppi P, Brient F, Zelinka MD, Hartmann DLet 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.

Journal article

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

Journal article

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.

Journal article

Ceppi P, Hartmann DL, 2016, Clouds and the Atmospheric Circulation Response to Warming, JOURNAL OF CLIMATE, Vol: 29, Pages: 783-799, ISSN: 0894-8755

Journal article

McCoy DT, Hartmann DL, Zelinka MD, Ceppi P, Grosvenor DPet 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.

Journal article

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.

Journal article

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