Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Changes in atmospheric circulation between solar maximum and minimum conditions in winter and summer
by Lee, Jae Nyung, Ph.D., State University of New York at Stony Brook, 2008, 182; 3338154
Abstract (Summary)

Statistically significant climate responses to the solar variability are found in Northern Annular Mode (NAM) and in the tropical circulation. This study is based on the statistical analysis of numerical simulations with ModelE version of the chemistry coupled Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) general circulation model (GCM) and National Centers for Environmental Prediction/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP/NCAR) reanalysis.

The low frequency large scale variability of the winter and summer circulation is described by the NAM, the leading Empirical Orthogonal Function (EOF) of geopotential heights. The newly defined seasonal annular modes and its dynamical significance in the stratosphere and troposphere in the GISS ModelE is shown and compared with those in the NCEP/NCAR reanalysis. In the stratosphere, the summer NAM obtained from NCEP/NCAR reanalysis as well as from the ModelE simulations has the same sign throughout the northern hemisphere, but shows greater variability at low latitudes. The patterns in both analyses are consistent with the interpretation that low NAM conditions represent an enhancement of the seasonal difference between the summer and the annual averages of geopotential height, temperature and velocity distributions, while the reverse holds for high NAM conditions. Composite analysis of high and low NAM cases in both the model and observation suggests that the summer stratosphere is more “summer-like” when the solar activity is near a maximum. This means that the zonal easterly wind flow is stronger and the temperature is higher than normal. Thus increased irradiance favors a low summer NAM. A quantitative comparison of the anti-correlation between the NAM and the solar forcing is presented in the model and in the observation, both of which show lower/higher NAM index in solar maximum/minimum conditions.

The summer NAM in the troposphere obtained from NCEP/NCAR reanalysis has a dipolar zonal structure with maximum variability over the Asian monsoon region. The corresponding EOF in ModelE has a qualitatively similar structure but with less variability in the Asian monsoon region which is displaced eastward of its observed position. In both the NCEP/NCAR reanalysis and the GISS GCM, the negative anomalies associated with the NAM in the Euro-Atlantic and Aleutian island regions are enhanced in the solar minimum conditions, though the results are not statistically significant.

The difference of the downward propagation of NAM between solar maximum and solar minimum is shown with the NCEP/NCAR reanalysis. For the winter NAM, a much greater fraction of stratospheric circulation perturbations penetrate to the surface in solar maximum conditions than in minimum conditions. This difference is more striking when the zonal wind direction in the tropics is from the west: when equatorial 50 hPa winds are from the west, no stratospheric signals reach the surface under solar minimum conditions, while over 50 percent reach the surface under solar maximum conditions.

This work also studies the response of the tropical circulation to the solar forcing in combination with different atmospheric compositions and with different ocean modules. Four model experiments have been designed to investigate the role of solar forcing in the tropical circulation: one with the present day (PD) greenhouse gases and aerosol conditions, one with the preindustrial (PI) conditions, one with the doubled minimum solar forcing, and finally one with the hybrid-isopycnic ocean model (HYCOM). The response patterns in the tropical humidity and in the vertical motion due to solar forcing are season dependent and spatially heterogeneous. The tropical humidity response from the model experiments are compared with the corresponding differences obtained from the NCEP/NCAR reanalysis with all years and with non-ENSO years. Both the model and the reanalysis consistently show that the specific humidity is significantly greater in the convective region in solar maximum compared to solar minimum for January and July. The column integrated humidity in all the model experiments with different composition, different solar forcing, and different ocean module, increased with solar forcing in the tropical band over the Atlantic sector in both seasons. The model’s humidity response pattern is generally consistent with the paleoclimate records indicating increased precipitation near the equator that decreases at subtropical to middle latitudes with increased solar output.

The differences in the zonally averaged vertical velocities indicate that the ascending branch of the Hadley cell is enhanced and shifted northward, and that the descending branch is weakened and shifted northward in the solar MAX simulation in January. The downward branch of the Hadley cell is strengthened in MAX in July.

A possible link of climate response in midlatitudes to solar forcing is also presented by showing changes in zonal mean wind, changes in temperature gradient, and changes in E-P flux.

Indexing (document details)
School: State University of New York at Stony Brook
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 69/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Atmospheric sciences
Keywords: Atmospheric circulation, Solar maximum, Solar variability, Stratosphere
Publication Number: 3338154
ISBN: 978-0-549-92153-0
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