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Response of the Zonal Mean Atmospheric Circulation to El Niño versus Global Warming

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Response of the Zonal Mean Atmospheric Circulation to El Niño versus Global Warming

 

 

Authors:   Jian Lu,  Gang Chen and Dargan M. W. Frierson

 

First Published:   March 11th, 2008

 

Published on line:  November 15th, 2008

 

Abstract:

The change in the zonal mean atmospheric circulation under global warming is studied in comparison with the response to El Niño forcing, by examining the model simulations conducted for the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In contrast to the strengthening and contraction of the Hadley cell and the equatorward shift of the tropospheric zonal jets in response to El Niño, the Hadley cell weakens and expands poleward, and the jets move poleward in a warmed climate, despite the projected “El Niño–like” enhanced warming over the equatorial central and eastern Pacific. The hydrological impacts of global warming also exhibit distinct patterns over the subtropics and midlatitudes in comparison to the El Niño.

Two feasible mechanisms are proposed for the zonal mean circulation response to global warming: 1) The increase in static stability of the subtropical and midlatitude troposphere, a robust result of the quasi-moist adiabatic adjustment to the surface warming, may stabilize the baroclinic eddy growth on the equatorward side of the storm tracks and push the eddy activity and the associated eddy-driven wind and subsidence poleward, leading to the poleward expansion of the Hadley cell and the shift of midlatitude jets; 2) the strengthening of the midlatitude wind at the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere, arguably a consequence of increases in the meridional temperature gradient near the tropopause level due to the tropospheric warming and tropopause slope, may increase the eastward propagation of the eddies emanating from the midlatitudes, and thus the subtropical region of wave breaking displaces poleward together with the eddy-driven circulation. Both mechanisms are somewhat, if not completely, distinct from those in response to the El Niño condition.

 

Link to full paper:   https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/2008JCLI2200.1

 

Credit goes to Eric @Webberweather for finding this presentation - thank you.

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