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Title: Persistent cold air outbreaks over North America in a warming climate

Abstract

This study examines future changes of cold air outbreaks (CAO) using a multi-model ensemble of global climate simulations from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 as well as regional high resolution climate simulations. In the future, while robust decrease of CAO duration dominates in most regions, the magnitude of decrease over northwestern U.S. is much smaller than the surrounding regions. We identified statistically significant increases in sea level pressure during CAO events centering over Yukon, Alaska, and Gulf of Alaska that advects continental cold air to northwestern U.S., leading to blocking and CAO events. Changes in large scale circulation contribute to about 50% of the enhanced sea level pressure anomaly conducive to CAO in northwestern U.S. in the future. High resolution regional simulations revealed potential contributions of increased existing snowpack to increased CAO in the near future over the Rocky Mountain, southwestern U.S., and Great Lakes areas through surface albedo effects, despite winter mean snow water equivalent decreases in the future. Overall, the multi-model projections emphasize that cold extremes do not completely disappear in a warming climate. Concomitant with the relatively smaller reduction in CAO events in northwestern U.S., the top 5 most extreme CAO events may still occurmore » in the future, and wind chill warning will continue to have societal impacts in that region.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1];  [2]
  1. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
  2. Univ. of Reading (United Kingdom). NCAS-Climate and Dept. of Meteorology
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E)
OSTI Identifier:
1222438
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1182878
Grant/Contract Number:
KP1703010; AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Published Article
Journal Name:
Environmental Research Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 10; Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 1748-9326
Publisher:
IOP Publishing
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; cold air outbreaks; sea level pressure; snow water equivalent; wind chill warning

Citation Formats

Gao, Yang, Leung, L. Ruby, Lu, Jian, and Masato, Giacomo. Persistent cold air outbreaks over North America in a warming climate. United States: N. p., 2015. Web. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/10/4/044001.
Gao, Yang, Leung, L. Ruby, Lu, Jian, & Masato, Giacomo. Persistent cold air outbreaks over North America in a warming climate. United States. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/10/4/044001.
Gao, Yang, Leung, L. Ruby, Lu, Jian, and Masato, Giacomo. Mon . "Persistent cold air outbreaks over North America in a warming climate". United States. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/10/4/044001.
@article{osti_1222438,
title = {Persistent cold air outbreaks over North America in a warming climate},
author = {Gao, Yang and Leung, L. Ruby and Lu, Jian and Masato, Giacomo},
abstractNote = {This study examines future changes of cold air outbreaks (CAO) using a multi-model ensemble of global climate simulations from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 as well as regional high resolution climate simulations. In the future, while robust decrease of CAO duration dominates in most regions, the magnitude of decrease over northwestern U.S. is much smaller than the surrounding regions. We identified statistically significant increases in sea level pressure during CAO events centering over Yukon, Alaska, and Gulf of Alaska that advects continental cold air to northwestern U.S., leading to blocking and CAO events. Changes in large scale circulation contribute to about 50% of the enhanced sea level pressure anomaly conducive to CAO in northwestern U.S. in the future. High resolution regional simulations revealed potential contributions of increased existing snowpack to increased CAO in the near future over the Rocky Mountain, southwestern U.S., and Great Lakes areas through surface albedo effects, despite winter mean snow water equivalent decreases in the future. Overall, the multi-model projections emphasize that cold extremes do not completely disappear in a warming climate. Concomitant with the relatively smaller reduction in CAO events in northwestern U.S., the top 5 most extreme CAO events may still occur in the future, and wind chill warning will continue to have societal impacts in that region.},
doi = {10.1088/1748-9326/10/4/044001},
journal = {Environmental Research Letters},
number = 4,
volume = 10,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon Mar 30 00:00:00 EDT 2015},
month = {Mon Mar 30 00:00:00 EDT 2015}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record at 10.1088/1748-9326/10/4/044001

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 8 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

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