Forced annular variations in the 20th century Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report models

Authors

  • R. L. Miller,

    1. NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, New York, USA
    2. Also at Department of Applied Physics and Applied Math, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.
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  • G. A. Schmidt,

    1. NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, New York, USA
    2. Also at Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.
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  • D. T. Shindell

    1. NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, New York, USA
    2. Also at Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.
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Abstract

[1] We examine the annular mode within each hemisphere (defined here as the leading empirical orthogonal function and principal component of hemispheric sea level pressure) as simulated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report ensembles of coupled ocean-atmosphere models. The simulated annular patterns exhibit a high spatial correlation with the observed patterns during the late 20th century, though the mode represents too large a percentage of total temporal variability within each hemisphere. In response to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and tropospheric sulfate aerosols, the multimodel average exhibits a positive annular trend in both hemispheres, with decreasing sea level pressure (SLP) over the pole and a compensating increase in midlatitudes. In the Northern Hemisphere, the trend agrees in sign but is of smaller amplitude than that observed during recent decades. In the Southern Hemisphere, decreasing stratospheric ozone causes an additional reduction in Antarctic surface pressure during the latter half of the 20th century. While annular trends in the multimodel average are positive, individual model trends vary widely. Not all models predict a decrease in high-latitude SLP, although no model exhibits an increase. As a test of the models' annular sensitivity, the response to volcanic aerosols in the stratosphere is calculated during the winter following five major tropical eruptions. The observed response exhibits coupling between stratospheric anomalies and annular variations at the surface, similar to the coupling between these levels simulated elsewhere by models in response to increasing GHG concentration. The multimodel average is of the correct sign but significantly smaller in magnitude than the observed annular anomaly. This suggests that the models underestimate the coupling of stratospheric changes to annular variations at the surface and may not simulate the full response to increasing GHGs.

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