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Title: Collaborative Research: Process-resolving Decomposition of the Global Temperature Response to Modes of Low Frequency Variability in a Changing Climate

El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Annular Modes (AMs) represent respectively the most important modes of low frequency variability in the tropical and extratropical circulations. The future projection of the ENSO and AM variability, however, remains highly uncertain with the state-of-the-art coupled general circulation models. A comprehensive understanding of the factors responsible for the inter-model discrepancies in projecting future changes in the ENSO and AM variability, in terms of multiple feedback processes involved, has yet to be achieved. The proposed research aims to identify sources of such uncertainty and establish a set of process-resolving quantitative evaluations of the existing predictions of the future ENSO and AM variability. The proposed process-resolving evaluations are based on a feedback analysis method formulated in Lu and Cai (2009), which is capable of partitioning 3D temperature anomalies/perturbations into components linked to 1) radiation-related thermodynamic processes such as cloud and water vapor feedbacks, 2) local dynamical processes including convection and turbulent/diffusive energy transfer and 3) non-local dynamical processes such as the horizontal energy transport in the oceans and atmosphere. Taking advantage of the high-resolution, multi-model ensemble products from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) soon to be available at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, wemore » will conduct a process-resolving decomposition of the global three-dimensional (3D) temperature (including SST) response to the ENSO and AM variability in the preindustrial, historical and future climate simulated by these models. Specific research tasks include 1) identifying the model-observation discrepancies in the global temperature response to ENSO and AM variability and attributing such discrepancies to specific feedback processes, 2) delineating the influence of anthropogenic radiative forcing on the key feedback processes operating on ENSO and AM variability and quantifying their relative contributions to the changes in the temperature anomalies associated with different phases of ENSO and AMs, and 3) investigating the linkages between model feedback processes that lead to inter-model differences in time-mean temperature projection and model feedback processes that cause inter-model differences in the simulated ENSO and AM temperature response. Through a thorough model-observation and inter-model comparison of the multiple energetic processes associated with ENSO and AM variability, the proposed research serves to identify key uncertainties in model representation of ENSO and AM variability, and investigate how the model uncertainty in predicting time-mean response is related to the uncertainty in predicting response of the low-frequency modes. The proposal is thus a direct response to the first topical area of the solicitation: Interaction of Climate Change and Low Frequency Modes of Natural Climate Variability. It ultimately supports the accomplishment of the BER climate science activity Long Term Measure (LTM): "Deliver improved scientific data and models about the potential response of the Earth's climate and terrestrial biosphere to increased greenhouse gas levels for policy makers to determine safe levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."« less
 [1] ;  [2]
  1. Florida State Univ., Tallahassee, FL (United States)
  2. Georgia Inst. of Technology, Atlanta, GA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Florida State Univ., Tallahassee, FL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE; USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Contributing Orgs:
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA
Country of Publication:
United States
58 GEOSCIENCES Climate Change and Climate Variability