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Contributions of climate feedbacks to changes in atmospheric circulation

Ceppi, P. and Shepherd, T. G. (2017) Contributions of climate feedbacks to changes in atmospheric circulation. Journal of Climate, 30 (22). pp. 9097-9118. ISSN 1520-0442

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-17-0189.1

Abstract/Summary

The projected response of the atmospheric circulation to the radiative changes induced by CO2 forcing and climate feedbacks is currently uncertain. In this modelling 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 inter-model spread in CMIP5 jet shifts for our set of models, demonstrating the importance of constraining radiative feedbacks for accurate projections of circulation changes.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:71901
Publisher:American Meteorological Society

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