Robust future changes in temperature variability under greenhouse gas forcing and the relationship with thermal advection
Holmes, C. R., Woollings, T., Hawkins, E. and de Vries, H. (2016) Robust future changes in temperature variability under greenhouse gas forcing and the relationship with thermal advection. Journal of Climate, 29 (6). pp. 2221-2236. ISSN 1520-0442
To link to this article DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00735.1
Recent temperature extremes have highlighted the importance of assessing projected changes in the variability of temperature as well as the mean. A large fraction of present day temperature variance is associated with thermal advection, as anomalous winds blow across the land-sea temperature contrast for instance. Models project robust heterogeneity in the 21st century warming pattern under greenhouse gas forcing, resulting in land-sea temperature contrasts increasing in summer and decreasing in winter, and the pole-to-equator temperature gradient weakening in winter. In this study, future monthly variability changes in the 17 member ensemble ESSENCE are assessed. In winter, variability in midlatitudes decreases while in very high latitudes and the tropics it increases. In summer, variability increases over most land areas and in the tropics, with decreasing variability in high latitude oceans. Multiple regression analysis is used to determine the contributions to variability changes from changing temperature gradients and circulation patterns. Thermal advection is found to be of particular importance in the northern hemisphere winter midlatitudes, where the change in mean state temperature gradients alone could account for over half the projected changes. Changes in thermal advection are also found to be important in summer in Europe and coastal areas, although less so than in winter. Comparison with CMIP5 data shows that the midlatitude changes in variability are robust across large regions, particularly high northern latitudes in winter and mid northern latitudes in summer.