CICERO - Center for International Climate Research

The Southern Hemisphere midlatitude circulation response to rapid adjustments and sea surface temperature driven feedbacks

Tom Wood, Amanda Maycock, Piers M. Forster, Thomas Richardson, Timothy Andrews, Olivier Boucher, Gunnar Myhre, Bjørn Hallvard Samset, Alf Kirkevåg, Jean-Francois Lamarque, Johannes Mülmenstädt, Dirk Jan Leo Oliviè, Toshihiko Takemura, Duncan Watson-Parris

Rapid adjustments—the response of meteorology to external forcing while sea surface temperatures (SST) and sea ice are held fixed—can affect the midlatitude circulation and contribute to long-term forced circulation responses in climate simulations. This study examines rapid adjustments in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) circulation using nine models from the Precipitation Driver and Response Model Intercomparison Project (PDRMIP), which perform fixed SST and coupled ocean experiments for five perturbations: a doubling of carbon dioxide (2xCO2), a tripling of methane (3xCH4), a fivefold increase in sulfate aerosol (5xSO4), a tenfold increase in black carbon aerosol (10xBC), and a 2% increase in solar constant (2%Sol). In the coupled experiments, the SH eddy-driven jet shifts poleward and strengthens for forcings that produce global warming (and vice versa for 5xSO4), with the strongest response found in austral summer. In austral winter, the responses project more strongly onto a change in jet strength. For 10xBC, which induces strong shortwave absorption, the multimodel mean (MMM) rapid adjustment in DJF jet latitude is ~75% of the change in the coupled simulations. For the other forcings, which induce larger SST changes, the effect of SST-mediated feedbacks on the SH circulation is larger than the rapid adjustment. Nevertheless, for these perturbations the magnitude of the MMM jet shift due to the rapid adjustment is still around 20%–30% of that in the coupled experiments. The results demonstrate the need to understand the mechanisms for rapid adjustments in the midlatitude circulation, in addition to the effect of changing SSTs.

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