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Decadal trends in surface solar radiation and cloud cover over the North Atlantic sector during the last four decades: drivers and physical processes

Dong, B. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0809-7911, Sutton, R. T. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8345-8583 and Wilcox, L. J. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5691-1493 (2022) Decadal trends in surface solar radiation and cloud cover over the North Atlantic sector during the last four decades: drivers and physical processes. Climate Dynamics. ISSN 0930-7575

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00382-022-06438-3

Abstract/Summary

Satellite-derived products and reanalyses show consistent increases in downward surface solar radiation (SSR) and decreases in cloud cover over North America and Europe from the 1980s to 2010s. These trends show a strong seasonality, with the largest changes in boreal summer. A set of timeslice experiments with an atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) forced with prescribed changes in sea surface temperature/sea ice extent (SST/SIE), greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations, and anthropogenic aerosol (AA) emissions, together and separately, is performed to assess the relative roles of different forcings in these observed trends. The model reproduces the main observed features over Europe and North America, including the seasonality of trends, suggesting a dominant role of forced changes in the recent trends in SSR and cloud cover. Responses to individual forcings indicate that recent decadal trends in SSR over Europe are predominantly driven by AA emission reductions, with an additional influence from SST/SIE and GHG changes. In contrast, changes in AA, SST/SIE, and GHG contribute more equally to simulated decadal trends in SSR and cloud cover over North America, although SST/SIE play the most important role. In our simulations, responses of SSR to AA emission reductions are primarily governed by aerosol-radiation interactions. Responses to SST/SIE and GHG changes are predominantly due to cloud cover changes, which are driven by atmospheric circulation and humidity changes. This process level understanding of how different forcing factors influence decadal trends in SSR and cloud cover is valuable for understanding past changes and future projections in global and regional surface energy budgets, surface warming, and global and regional hydrological cycles.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:106929
Publisher:Springer

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