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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

DOE-GTRC-05596 11/24/2104 Collaborative Research: Process-Resolving Decomposition of the Global Temperature Response to Modes of Low Frequency Variability in a Changing Climate PI: Dr. Yi Deng (PI) School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Georgia Institute of Technology 404-385-1821, 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 projection of future changes in the ENSO and AM variability, however, remains highly uncertain with the state-of-the-science climate models. This project conducted a process-resolving, quantitative evaluations of the ENSO and AM variability in the modern reanalysis observations and in climate model simulations. The goal is to identify and understand the sources of uncertainty and biases in models’ representation of ENSO and AM variability. Using a feedback analysis method originally formulated by one of the collaborative PIs, we partitioned the 3D atmospheric temperature anomalies and surface temperature anomalies associated with ENSO and AM variability 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. In the pastmore » 4 years, the research conducted at Georgia Tech under the support of this project has led to 15 peer-reviewed publications and 9 conference/workshop presentations. Two graduate students and one postdoctoral fellow also received research training through participating the project activities. This final technical report summarizes key scientific discoveries we made and provides also a list of all publications and conference presentations resulted from research activities at Georgia Tech. The main findings include: 1) the distinctly different roles played by atmospheric dynamical processes in establishing surface temperature response to ENSO at tropics and extratropics (i.e., atmospheric dynamics disperses energy out of tropics during ENSO warm events and modulate surface temperature at mid-, high-latitudes through controlling downward longwave radiation); 2) the representations of ENSO-related temperature response in climate models fail to converge at the process-level particularly over extratropics (i.e., models produce the right temperature responses to ENSO but with wrong reasons); 3) water vapor feedback contributes substantially to the temperature anomalies found over U.S. during different phases of the Northern Annular Mode (NAM), which adds new insight to the traditional picture that cold/warm advective processes are the main drivers of local temperature responses to the NAM; 4) the overall land surface temperature biases in the latest NCAR model (CESM1) are caused by biases in surface albedo while the surface temperature biases over ocean are related to multiple factors including biases in model albedo, cloud and oceanic dynamics, and the temperature biases over different ocean basins are also induced by different process biases. These results provide a detailed guidance for process-level model turning and improvement, and thus contribute directly to the overall goal of reducing model uncertainty in projecting future changes in the Earth’s climate system, especially in the ENSO and AM variability.« less
  1. Georgia Inst. of Technology, Atlanta, GA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Georgia Inst. of Technology, Atlanta, GA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States
58 GEOSCIENCES El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO); Annular Modes (AMs)