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Influences of local and remote conditions on tropical precipitation and its response to climate change

Saint-Lu, M., Chadwick, R., Lambert, F. H., Collins, M., Boutle, I., Whitall, M. and Daleu, C. (2020) Influences of local and remote conditions on tropical precipitation and its response to climate change. Journal of Climate, 33 (10). pp. 4045-4063. ISSN 1520-0442

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0450.1


By comparing a Single Column Model (SCM) with closely related General Circulation Models (GCMs), precipitation changes that can be diagnosed from local changes in surface temperature (TS) and relative humidity (RHS) are separated from more complex responses. In the SCM set-up, the largescale tropical circulation is parametrized to respond to the surface temperature departure from a prescribed environment, following the Weak Temperature Gradient (WTG) approximation and using the Damped GravityWave (DGW) parametrization. The SCM is also forced with moisture variations. First, it is found that most of the present-day mean tropical rainfall and circulation pattern is associated with TS and RHS patterns. Climate change experiments with the SCM are performed, imposing separately surface warming and CO2 increase. The rainfall response to future changes in sea surface temperature patterns and plant physiology are successfully reproduced, suggesting that these are direct responses to local changes in convective instability. However, the SCM increases oceanic rainfall too much, and fails to reproduce the land rainfall decrease, that are both associated with uniform ocean warming. It is argued that remote atmospheric teleconnections play a crucial role in both weakening the atmospheric overturning circulation and constraining precipitation changes. Results suggest that the overturning circulation weakens, both as a direct local response to increased CO2 and in response to energy imbalance driven exchanges between ascent and descent regions.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:89284
Publisher:American Meteorological Society


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