Ummenhofer Caroline C.

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Caroline C.

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  • Preprint
    Early assessment of seasonal forage availability for mitigating the impact of drought on East African pastoralists
    ( 2015-11) Vrieling, Anton ; Meroni, Michele ; Mude, Andrew G. ; Chantarat, Sommarat ; Ummenhofer, Caroline C. ; de Bie, Kees (C.A.J.M.)
    Pastoralist households across East Africa face major livestock losses during drought periods that can cause persistent poverty. For Kenya and southern Ethiopia, an existing index insurance scheme aims to reduce the adverse effects of such losses. The scheme insures individual households through an area-aggregated seasonal forage scarcity index derived from remotely-sensed normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) time series. Until recently, insurance contracts covered animal losses and indemnity payouts were consequently made late in the season, based on a forage scarcity index incorporating both wet and dry season NDVI data. Season timing and duration were fixed for the whole area (March-September for long rains, October-February for short rains). Due to demand for asset protection insurance (pre-loss intervention) our aim was to identify earlier payout options by shortening the temporal integration period of the index. We used 250m-resolution 10-day NDVI composites for 2001-2014 from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). To better describe the period during which forage develops, we first retrieved per-pixel average season start- and end-dates using a phenological model. These dates were averaged per insurance unit to obtain unit-specific growing period definitions. With these definitions a new forage scarcity index was calculated. We then examined if shortening the temporal period further could effectively predict most (>90%) of the interannual variability of the new index, and assessed the effects of shortening the period on indemnity payouts. Our analysis shows that insurance payouts could be made one to three months earlier as compared to the current index definition, depending on the insurance unit. This would allow pastoralists to use indemnity payments to protect their livestock through purchase of forage, water, or medicines.
  • Article
    North Atlantic salinity as a predictor of Sahel rainfall
    (American Association for the Advancement of Science., 2016-05-06) Li, Laifang ; Schmitt, Raymond W. ; Ummenhofer, Caroline C. ; Karnauskas, Kristopher B.
    Water evaporating from the ocean sustains precipitation on land. This ocean-to-land moisture transport leaves an imprint on sea surface salinity (SSS). Thus, the question arises of whether variations in SSS can provide insight into terrestrial precipitation. This study provides evidence that springtime SSS in the subtropical North Atlantic ocean can be used as a predictor of terrestrial precipitation during the subsequent summer monsoon in Africa. Specifically, increased springtime SSS in the central to eastern subtropical North Atlantic tends to be followed by above-normal monsoon-season precipitation in the African Sahel. In the spring, high SSS is associated with enhanced moisture flux divergence from the subtropical oceans, which converges over the African Sahel and helps to elevate local soil moisture content. From spring to the summer monsoon season, the initial water cycling signal is preserved, amplified, and manifested in excessive precipitation. According to our analysis of currently available soil moisture data sets, this 3-month delay is attributable to a positive coupling between soil moisture, moisture flux convergence, and precipitation in the Sahel. Because of the physical connection between salinity, ocean-to-land moisture transport, and local soil moisture feedback, seasonal forecasts of Sahel precipitation can be improved by incorporating SSS into prediction models. Thus, expanded monitoring of ocean salinity should contribute to more skillful predictions of precipitation in vulnerable subtropical regions, such as the Sahel.
  • Article
    Impact of multidecadal variability in Atlantic SST on winter atmospheric blocking
    (American Meteorological Society, 2019-12-31) Kwon, Young-Oh ; Seo, Hyodae ; Ummenhofer, Caroline C. ; Joyce, Terrence M.
    Recent studies have suggested that coherent multidecadal variability exists between North Atlantic atmospheric blocking frequency and the Atlantic multidecadal variability (AMV). However, the role of AMV in modulating blocking variability on multidecadal times scales is not fully understood. This study examines this issue primarily using the NOAA Twentieth Century Reanalysis for 1901–2010. The second mode of the empirical orthogonal function for winter (December–March) atmospheric blocking variability in the North Atlantic exhibits oppositely signed anomalies of blocking frequency over Greenland and the Azores. Furthermore, its principal component time series shows a dominant multidecadal variability lagging AMV by several years. Composite analyses show that this lag is due to the slow evolution of the AMV sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies, which is likely driven by the ocean circulation. Following the warm phase of AMV, the warm SST anomalies emerge in the western subpolar gyre over 3–7 years. The ocean–atmosphere interaction over these 3–7-yr periods is characterized by the damping of the warm SST anomalies by the surface heat flux anomalies, which in turn reduce the overall meridional gradient of the air temperature and thus weaken the meridional transient eddy heat flux in the lower troposphere. The anomalous transient eddy forcing then shifts the eddy-driven jet equatorward, resulting in enhanced Rossby wave breaking and blocking on the northern flank of the jet over Greenland. The opposite is true with the AMV cold phases but with much shorter lags, as the evolution of SST anomalies differs in the warm and cold phases.
  • Article
    Revisiting the relationship among metrics of tropical expansion
    (American Meteorological Society, 2018-08-08) Waugh, Darryn W. ; Grise, Kevin M. ; Seviour, William J. M. ; Davis, Sean M. ; Davis, Nicholas ; Adam, Ori ; Son, Seok-Woo ; Simpson, Isla R. ; Staten, Paul W. ; Maycock, Amanda C. ; Ummenhofer, Caroline C. ; Birner, Thomas ; Ming, Alison
    There is mounting evidence that the width of the tropics has increased over the last few decades, but there are large differences in reported expansion rates. This is, likely, in part due to the wide variety of metrics that have been used to define the tropical width. Here we perform a systematic investigation into the relationship among nine metrics of the zonal-mean tropical width using preindustrial control and abrupt quadrupling of CO2 simulations from a suite of coupled climate models. It is shown that the latitudes of the edge of the Hadley cell, the midlatitude eddy-driven jet, the edge of the subtropical dry zones, and the Southern Hemisphere subtropical high covary interannually and exhibit similar long-term responses to a quadrupling of CO2. However, metrics based on the outgoing longwave radiation, the position of the subtropical jet, the break in the tropopause, and the Northern Hemisphere subtropical high have very weak covariations with the above metrics and/or respond differently to increases in CO2 and thus are not good indicators of the expansion of the Hadley cell or subtropical dry zone. The differing variability and responses to increases in CO2 among metrics highlights that care is needed when choosing metrics for studies of the width of the tropics and that it is important to make sure the metric used is appropriate for the specific phenomena and impacts being examined.
  • Article
    Drivers and impacts of the most extreme marine heatwaves events
    (Nature Research, 2020-11-09) Sen Gupta, Alexander ; Thomsen, Mads ; Benthuysen, Jessica A. ; Hobday, Alistair J. ; Oliver, Eric ; Alexander, Lisa V. ; Burrows, Michael T. ; Donat, Markus G. ; Feng, Ming ; Holbrook, Neil J. ; Perkins-Kirkpatrick, Sarah ; Moore, Pippa J. ; Rodrigues, Regina ; Scannell, Hillary A. ; Taschetto, Andrea S. ; Ummenhofer, Caroline C. ; Wernberg, Thomas ; Smale, Dan A.
    Prolonged high-temperature extreme events in the ocean, marine heatwaves, can have severe and long-lasting impacts on marine ecosystems, fisheries and associated services. This study applies a marine heatwave framework to analyse a global sea surface temperature product and identify the most extreme events, based on their intensity, duration and spatial extent. Many of these events have yet to be described in terms of their physical attributes, generation mechanisms, or ecological impacts. Our synthesis identifies commonalities between marine heatwave characteristics and seasonality, links to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, triggering processes and impacts on ocean productivity. The most intense events preferentially occur in summer, when climatological oceanic mixed layers are shallow and winds are weak, but at a time preceding climatological maximum sea surface temperatures. Most subtropical extreme marine heatwaves were triggered by persistent atmospheric high-pressure systems and anomalously weak wind speeds, associated with increased insolation, and reduced ocean heat losses. Furthermore, the most extreme events tended to coincide with reduced chlorophyll-a concentration at low and mid-latitudes. Understanding the importance of the oceanic background state, local and remote drivers and the ocean productivity response from past events are critical steps toward improving predictions of future marine heatwaves and their impacts.
  • Article
    Influences of Pacific climate variability on decadal subsurface ocean heat content variations in the Indian Ocean
    (American Meteorological Society, 2018-04-30) Jin, Xiaolin ; Kwon, Young-Oh ; Ummenhofer, Caroline C. ; Seo, Hyodae ; Schwarzkopf, Franziska U. ; Biastoch, Arne ; Böning, Claus W. ; Wright, Jonathon S.
    Decadal variabilities in Indian Ocean subsurface ocean heat content (OHC; 50–300 m) since the 1950s are examined using ocean reanalyses. This study elaborates on how Pacific variability modulates the Indian Ocean on decadal time scales through both oceanic and atmospheric pathways. High correlations between OHC and thermocline depth variations across the entire Indian Ocean Basin suggest that OHC variability is primarily driven by thermocline fluctuations. The spatial pattern of the leading mode of decadal Indian Ocean OHC variability closely matches the regression pattern of OHC on the interdecadal Pacific oscillation (IPO), emphasizing the role of the Pacific Ocean in determining Indian Ocean OHC decadal variability. Further analyses identify different mechanisms by which the Pacific influences the eastern and western Indian Ocean. IPO-related anomalies from the Pacific propagate mainly through oceanic pathways in the Maritime Continent to impact the eastern Indian Ocean. By contrast, in the western Indian Ocean, the IPO induces wind-driven Ekman pumping in the central Indian Ocean via the atmospheric bridge, which in turn modifies conditions in the southwestern Indian Ocean via westward-propagating Rossby waves. To confirm this, a linear Rossby wave model is forced with wind stresses and eastern boundary conditions based on reanalyses. This linear model skillfully reproduces observed sea surface height anomalies and highlights both the oceanic connection in the eastern Indian Ocean and the role of wind-driven Ekman pumping in the west. These findings are also reproduced by OGCM hindcast experiments forced by interannual atmospheric boundary conditions applied only over the Pacific and Indian Oceans, respectively.
  • Article
    Impact of surface forcing on Southern Hemisphere atmospheric blocking in the Australia–New Zealand sector
    (American Meteorological Society, 2013-11-01) Ummenhofer, Caroline C. ; McIntosh, Peter C. ; Pook, Michael J. ; Risbey, James S.
    Characteristics of atmospheric blocking in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) are explored in atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) simulations with the Community Atmosphere Model, version 3, with a particular focus on the Australia–New Zealand sector. Preferred locations of blocking in SH observations and the associated seasonal cycle are well represented in the AGCM simulations, but the observed magnitude of blocking is underestimated throughout the year, particularly in late winter and spring. This is related to overly zonal flow due to an enhanced meridional pressure gradient in the model, which results in a decreased amplitude of the longwave trough/ridge pattern. A range of AGCM sensitivity experiments explores the effect on SH blocking of tropical heating, midlatitude sea surface temperatures, and land–sea temperature gradients created over the Australian continent during austral winter. The combined effects of tropical heating and extratropical temperature gradients are further explored in a configuration that is favorable for blocking in the Australia–New Zealand sector with warm SST anomalies to the north of Australia, cold to the southwest of Australia, warm to the southeast, and cool Australian land temperatures. The blocking-favorable configuration indicates a significant strengthening of the subtropical jet and a reduction in midlatitude flow, which results from changes in the thermal wind. While these overall changes in mean climate, predominantly forced by the tropical heating, enhance blocking activity, the magnitude of atmospheric blocking compared to observations is still underestimated. The blocking-unfavorable configuration with surface forcing anomalies of opposite sign results in a weakening subtropical jet, enhanced midlatitude flow, and significantly reduced blocking.
  • Article
    Late 20th century Indian Ocean heat content gain masked by wind forcing
    (American Geophysical Union, 2020-10-26) Ummenhofer, Caroline C. ; Ryan, Svenja ; England, Matthew H. ; Scheinert, Markus ; Wagner, Patrick ; Biastoch, Arne ; Böning, Claus W.
    Rapid increases in upper 700‐m Indian Ocean heat content (IOHC) since the 2000s have focused attention on its role during the recent global surface warming hiatus. Here, we use ocean model simulations to assess distinct multidecadal IOHC variations since the 1960s and explore the relative contributions from wind stress and buoyancy forcing regionally and with depth. Multidecadal wind forcing counteracted IOHC increases due to buoyancy forcing from the 1960s to the 1990s. Wind and buoyancy forcing contribute positively since the mid‐2000s, accounting for the drastic IOHC change. Distinct timing and structure of upper ocean temperature changes in the eastern and western Indian Ocean are linked to the pathway how multidecadal wind forcing associated with the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation is transmitted and affects IOHC through local and remote winds. Progressive shoaling of the equatorial thermocline—of importance for low‐frequency variations in Indian Ocean Dipole occurrence—appears to be dominated by multidecadal variations in wind forcing.
  • Article
    Implications of North Atlantic sea surface salinity for summer precipitation over the U.S. Midwest : mechanisms and predictive value
    (American Meteorological Society, 2016-04-19) Li, Laifang ; Schmitt, Raymond W. ; Ummenhofer, Caroline C. ; Karnauskas, Kristopher B.
    Moisture originating from the subtropical North Atlantic feeds precipitation throughout the Western Hemisphere. This ocean-to-land moisture transport leaves its imprint on sea surface salinity (SSS), enabling SSS over the subtropical oceans to be used as an indicator of terrestrial precipitation. This study demonstrates that springtime SSS over the northwestern portion of the subtropical North Atlantic significantly correlates with summertime precipitation over the U.S. Midwest. The linkage between springtime SSS and the Midwest summer precipitation is established through ocean-to-land moisture transport followed by a soil moisture feedback over the southern United States. In the spring, high SSS over the northwestern subtropical Atlantic coincides with a local increase in moisture flux divergence. The moisture flux is then directed toward and converges over the southern United States, which experiences increased precipitation and soil moisture. The increased soil moisture influences the regional water cycle both thermodynamically and dynamically, leading to excessive summer precipitation in the Midwest. Thermodynamically, the increased soil moisture tends to moisten the lower troposphere and enhances the meridional humidity gradient north of 36°N. Thus, more moisture will be transported and converged into the Midwest by the climatological low-level wind. Dynamically, the increases in soil moisture over the southern United States enhance the west–east soil moisture gradient eastward of the Rocky Mountains, which can help to intensify the Great Plains low-level jet in the summer, converging more moisture into the Midwest. Owing to these robust physical linkages, the springtime SSS outweighs the leading SST modes in predicting the Midwest summer precipitation and significantly improves rainfall prediction in this region.
  • Article
    Marine Heatwaves and their depth structures on the Northeast U.S. continental shelf
    (Frontiers Media, 2022-06-15) Großelindemann, Hendrik ; Ryan, Svenja ; Ummenhofer, Caroline C. ; Martin, Torge ; Biastoch, Arne
    Marine Heatwaves (MHWs) are ocean extreme events, characterized by anomalously high temperatures, which can have significant ecological impacts. The Northeast U.S. continental shelf is of great economical importance as it is home to a highly productive ecosystem. Local warming rates exceed the global average and the region experienced multiple MHWs in the last decade with severe consequences for regional fisheries. Due to the lack of subsurface observations, the depth-extent of MHWs is not well-known, which hampers the assessment of impacts on pelagic and benthic ecosystems. This study utilizes a global ocean circulation model with a high-resolution (1/20°) nest in the Atlantic to investigate the depth structure of MHWs and associated drivers on the Northeast U.S. continental shelf. It is shown that MHWs exhibit varying spatial extents, with some only occurring at depth. The highest intensities are found around 100 m depth with temperatures exceeding the climatological mean by up to 7°C, while surface intensities are typically smaller (around 3°C). Distinct vertical structures are associated with different spatial MHW patterns and drivers. Investigation of the co-variability of temperature and salinity reveals that over 80% of MHWs at depth (>50 m) coincide with extreme salinity anomalies. Two case studies provide insight into opposing MHW patterns at the surface and at depth, being forced by anomalous air-sea heat fluxes and Gulf Stream warm core ring interaction, respectively. The results highlight the importance of local ocean dynamics and the need to realistically represent them in climate models.
  • Article
    Rapid 20th century warming reverses 900-year cooling in the Gulf of Maine
    (Nature Research, 2022-08-08) Whitney, Nina M. ; Wanamaker, Alan D. ; Ummenhofer, Caroline C. ; Johnson, Beverly J. ; Cresswell-Clay, Nathaniel ; Kreutz, Karl J.
    The Gulf of Maine, located in the western North Atlantic, has undergone recent, rapid ocean warming but the lack of long-term, instrumental records hampers the ability to put these significant hydrographic changes into context. Here we present multiple 300-year long geochemical records (oxygen, nitrogen, and previously published radiocarbon isotopes) measured in absolutely-dated Arctica islandica shells from the western Gulf of Maine. These records, in combination with climate model simulations, suggest that the Gulf of Maine underwent a long-term cooling over most of the last 1000 years, driven primarily by volcanic forcing and North Atlantic ocean dynamics. This cooling trend was reversed by warming beginning in the late 1800s, likely due to increased atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and changes in western North Atlantic circulation. The climate model simulations suggest that the warming over the last century was more rapid than almost any other 100-year period in the last 1000 years in the region.
  • Article
    The role of the subtropical North Atlantic water cycle in recent US extreme precipitation events
    (Springer, 2017-04-13) Li, Laifang ; Schmitt, Raymond W. ; Ummenhofer, Caroline C.
    The role of the oceanic water cycle in the record-breaking 2015 warm-season precipitation in the US is analyzed. The extreme precipitation started in the Southern US in the spring and propagated northward to the Midwest and the Great Lakes in the summer of 2015. This seasonal evolution of precipitation anomalies represents a typical mode of variability of US warm-season precipitation. Analysis of the atmospheric moisture flux suggests that such a rainfall mode is associated with moisture export from the subtropical North Atlantic. In the spring, excessive precipitation in the Southern US is attributable to increased moisture flux from the northwestern portion of the subtropical North Atlantic. The North Atlantic moisture flux interacts with local soil moisture which enables the US Midwest to draw more moisture from the Gulf of Mexico in the summer. Further analysis shows that the relationship between the rainfall mode and the North Atlantic water cycle has become more significant in recent decades, indicating an increased likelihood of extremes like the 2015 case. Indeed, two record-high warm-season precipitation events, the 1993 and 2008 cases, both occurred in the more recent decades of the 66 year analysis period. The export of water from the North Atlantic leaves a marked surface salinity signature. The salinity signature appeared in the spring preceding all three extreme precipitation events analyzed in this study, i.e. a saltier-than-normal subtropical North Atlantic in spring followed by extreme Midwest precipitation in summer. Compared to the various sea surface temperature anomaly patterns among the 1993, 2008, and 2015 cases, the spatial distribution of salinity anomalies was much more consistent during these extreme flood years. Thus, our study suggests that preseason salinity patterns can be used for improved seasonal prediction of extreme precipitation in the Midwest.
  • Preprint
    Increased typhoon activity in the Pacific deep tropics driven by Little Ice Age circulation changes
    (Nature Research, 2020-11-16) Bramante, James F. ; Ford, Murray R. ; Kench, Paul S. ; Ashton, Andrew D. ; Toomey, Michael R. ; Sullivan, Richard M. ; Karnauskas, Kristopher B. ; Ummenhofer, Caroline C. ; Donnelly, Jeffrey P.
    The instrumental record reveals that tropical cyclone activity is sensitive to oceanic and atmospheric variability on inter-annual and decadal scales. However, our understanding of the influence of climate on tropical cyclone behaviour is restricted by the short historical record and the sparseness of prehistorical reconstructions, particularly in the western North Pacific, where coastal communities suffer loss of life and livelihood from typhoons annually. Here, to explore past regional typhoon dynamics, we reconstruct three millennia of deep tropical North Pacific cyclogenesis. Combined with existing records, our reconstruction demonstrates that low-baseline typhoon activity prior to 1350 ce was followed by an interval of frequent storms during the Little Ice Age. This pattern, concurrent with hydroclimate proxy variability, suggests a centennial-scale link between Pacific hydroclimate and tropical cyclone climatology. An ensemble of global climate models demonstrates a migration of the Pacific Walker circulation and variability in two Pacific climate modes during the Little Ice Age, which probably contributed to enhanced tropical cyclone activity in the tropical western North Pacific. In the next century, projected changes to the Pacific Walker circulation and expansion of the tropics will invert these Little Ice Age hydroclimate trends, potentially reducing typhoon activity in the deep tropical Pacific.
  • Article
    The role of atmospheric fronts in austral winter precipitation changes across Australia
    (Royal Meteorological Society, 2022-06-24) Lawrence, Lindsay ; Parfitt, Rhys ; Ummenhofer, Caroline C.
    Over the past few decades, Southeast Australia has experienced severe regional climatic events and some of the most extreme droughts on record, linked in part to influences from both the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD). In this article, the extent to which austral winter rainfall anomalies, in years leading into co-occurring ENSO and IOD events, are communicated specifically through variations in atmospheric fronts is quantified. The most extreme wet (dry) conditions occur in winters characterized by sea surface temperature anomaly patterns exhibiting features of La Niña-Negative IOD (El Niño-Positive IOD). It is found that most of these precipitation anomalies are related to changes in the precipitation associated with the passing of atmospheric fronts specifically. Although there is some suggestion that there are accompanying changes in the frequency of atmospheric fronts, the response appears to be dominated by changes in the amount of precipitation per individual atmospheric front. In addition, the distribution in the dynamic strength of individual atmospheric fronts remains relatively unchanged.
  • Article
    Improving Australian rainfall prediction using sea surface salinity
    (American Meteorological Society, 2021-03-01) Rathore, Saurabh ; Bindoff, Nathaniel L. ; Ummenhofer, Caroline C. ; Phillips, Helen E. ; Feng, Ming ; Mishra, Mayank
    This study uses sea surface salinity (SSS) as an additional precursor for improving the prediction of summer [December–February (DJF)] rainfall over northeastern Australia. From a singular value decomposition between SSS of prior seasons and DJF rainfall, we note that SSS of the Indo-Pacific warm pool region [SSSP (150°E–165°W and 10°S–10°N) and SSSI (50°–95°E and 10°S–10°N)] covaries with Australian rainfall, particularly in the northeast region. Composite analysis that is based on high or low SSS events in the SSSP and SSSI regions is performed to understand the physical links between the SSS and the atmospheric moisture originating from the regions of anomalously high or low, respectively, SSS and precipitation over Australia. The composites show the signature of co-occurring La Niña and negative Indian Ocean dipole with anomalously wet conditions over Australia and conversely show the signature of co-occurring El Niño and positive Indian Ocean dipole with anomalously dry conditions there. During the high SSS events of the SSSP and SSSI regions, the convergence of incoming moisture flux results in anomalously wet conditions over Australia with a positive soil moisture anomaly. Conversely, during the low SSS events of the SSSP and SSSI regions, the divergence of incoming moisture flux results in anomalously dry conditions over Australia with a negative soil moisture anomaly. We show from the random-forest regression analysis that the local soil moisture, El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and SSSP are the most important precursors for the northeast Australian rainfall whereas for the Brisbane region ENSO, SSSP, and the Indian Ocean dipole are the most important. The prediction of Australian rainfall using random-forest regression shows an improvement by including SSS from the prior season. This evidence suggests that sustained observations of SSS can improve the monitoring of the Australian regional hydrological cycle.
  • Article
    How did ocean warming affect Australian rainfall extremes during the 2010/2011 La Niña event?
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2015-11-19) Ummenhofer, Caroline C. ; Sen Gupta, Alexander ; England, Matthew H. ; Taschetto, Andrea S. ; Briggs, Peter R. ; Raupach, Michael R.
    Extreme rainfall conditions in Australia during the 2010/2011 La Niña resulted in devastating floods claiming 35 lives, causing billions of dollars in damages, and far-reaching impacts on global climate, including a significant drop in global sea level and record terrestrial carbon uptake. Northeast Australian 2010/2011 rainfall was 84% above average, unusual even for a strong La Niña, and soil moisture conditions were unprecedented since 1950. Here we demonstrate that the warmer background state increased the likelihood of the extreme rainfall response. Using atmospheric general circulation model experiments with 2010/2011 ocean conditions with and without long-term warming, we identify the mechanisms that increase the likelihood of extreme rainfall: additional ocean warming enhanced onshore moisture transport onto Australia and ascent and precipitation over the northeast. Our results highlight the role of long-term ocean warming for modifying rain-producing atmospheric circulation conditions, increasing the likelihood of extreme precipitation for Australia during future La Niña events.
  • Article
    Evaluation of monsoon seasonality and the tropospheric biennial oscillation transitions in the CMIP models
    (American Geophysical Union, 2012-10-26) Li, Yue ; Jourdain, Nicolas C. ; Taschetto, Andrea S. ; Ummenhofer, Caroline C. ; Ashok, Karumuri ; Sen Gupta, Alexander
    Characteristics of the Indian and Australian summer monsoon systems, their seasonality and interactions are examined in a variety of observational datasets and in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 3 and 5 (CMIP3 and CMIP5) climate models. In particular, it is examined whether preferred monsoon transitions between the two regions and from one year to another, that form parts of the Tropospheric Biennial Oscillation, can lead to improved predictive skill. An overall improvement in simulation of seasonality for both monsoons is seen in CMIP5 over CMIP3, with most CMIP5 models correctly simulating very low rainfall rates outside of the monsoon season. The predictability resulting from each transition is quantified using a Monte Carlo technique. The transition from strong/weak Indian monsoon to strong/weak Australian monsoon shows ∼15% enhanced predictability in the observations, in estimating whether the following monsoon will be stronger/weaker than the climatology. Most models also successfully simulate this transition. However, enhanced predictability for other transitions is less clear.
  • Article
    Relative contributions of heat flux and wind stress on the spatiotemporal upper-ocean variability in the tropical Indian Ocean
    (IOP Publishing, 2020-08-12) Yuan, Xu ; Ummenhofer, Caroline C. ; Seo, Hyodae ; Su, Zhongbo
    High-resolution ocean general circulation model (OGCM) simulations are employed to investigate interannual variability of the upper-ocean temperature in the tropical Indian Ocean (20°S–20°N). The seasonal cycle and interannual variability in the upper-ocean temperature in the tropical Indian Ocean in the forced ocean simulation are in good agreement with available observation and reanalysis products. Two further sensitivity OGCM simulations are used to separate the relative contributions of heat flux and wind stress. The comparison of the model simulations reveals the depth-dependent influences of heat flux and wind stress on the ocean temperature variability in the tropical Indian Ocean. Generally, heat flux dominates the temperature variability in the top 30 m, while wind stress contributes most strongly to the subsurface temperature variability below 30 m. This implies that a transition depth should exist at each location, where the dominant control of the ocean temperature variability switched from heat flux to wind stress. We define the depth of this transition point as the 'crossing depth' and make use of this concept to better understand the depth-dependent impacts of the heat flux and wind stress on the upper-ocean temperature variability in the tropical Indian Ocean. The crossing depth tends to be shallower in the southern tropical Indian Ocean (20°S-EQ), including the Seychelles-Chagos Thermocline Ridge (SCTR) and the eastern part of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), suggesting the dominance of forcing due to wind stress and the resulting ocean dynamical processes in the temperature variability in those regions. The crossing depth also shows prominent seasonal variability in the southern tropical Indian Ocean. In the SCTR, the variability of the subsurface temperature forced by the wind stress dominates largely in boreal winter and spring, resulting in the shallow crossing depth in these seasons. In contrast, the intensified subsurface temperature variability with shallow crossing depth in the eastern part of the IOD is seen during boreal autumn. Overall, our results suggest that the two regions within the tropical Indian Ocean, the SCTR and the eastern part of the IOD, are the primary locations where the ocean dynamics due to wind-stress forcing control the upper-ocean temperature variability.
  • Article
    Amplified seasonal cycle in hydroclimate over the Amazon river basin and its plume region
    (Nature Research, 2020-09-01) Liang, Yu-Chiao ; Lo, Min-Hui ; Lan, Chia-Wei ; Seo, Hyodae ; Ummenhofer, Caroline C. ; Yeager, Stephen G. ; Wu, Ren-Jie ; Steffen, John D.
    The Amazon river basin receives ~2000 mm of precipitation annually and contributes ~17% of global river freshwater input to the oceans; its hydroclimatic variations can exert profound impacts on the marine ecosystem in the Amazon plume region (APR) and have potential far-reaching influences on hydroclimate over the tropical Atlantic. Here, we show that an amplified seasonal cycle of Amazonia precipitation, represented by the annual difference between maximum and minimum values, during the period 1979–2018, leads to enhanced seasonalities in both Amazon river discharge and APR ocean salinity. An atmospheric moisture budget analysis shows that these enhanced seasonal cycles are associated with similar amplifications in the atmospheric vertical and horizontal moisture advections. Hierarchical sensitivity experiments using global climate models quantify the relationships of these enhanced seasonalities. The results suggest that an intensified hydroclimatological cycle may develop in the Amazonia atmosphere-land-ocean coupled system, favouring more extreme terrestrial and marine conditions.
  • Article
    Recent tropical expansion: natural variability or forced response?
    (American Meteorological Society, 2019-02-06) Grise, Kevin M. ; Davis, Sean M. ; Simpson, Isla R. ; Waugh, Darryn W. ; Fu, Qiang ; Allen, Robert J. ; Rosenlof, Karen H. ; Ummenhofer, Caroline C. ; Karnauskas, Kristopher B. ; Maycock, Amanda C. ; Quan, Xiao-Wei ; Birner, Thomas ; Staten, Paul W.
    Previous studies have documented a poleward shift in the subsiding branches of Earth’s Hadley circulation since 1979 but have disagreed on the causes of these observed changes and the ability of global climate models to capture them. This synthesis paper reexamines a number of contradictory claims in the past literature and finds that the tropical expansion indicated by modern reanalyses is within the bounds of models’ historical simulations for the period 1979–2005. Earlier conclusions that models were underestimating the observed trends relied on defining the Hadley circulation using the mass streamfunction from older reanalyses. The recent observed tropical expansion has similar magnitudes in the annual mean in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) and Southern Hemisphere (SH), but models suggest that the factors driving the expansion differ between the hemispheres. In the SH, increasing greenhouse gases (GHGs) and stratospheric ozone depletion contributed to tropical expansion over the late twentieth century, and if GHGs continue increasing, the SH tropical edge is projected to shift further poleward over the twenty-first century, even as stratospheric ozone concentrations recover. In the NH, the contribution of GHGs to tropical expansion is much smaller and will remain difficult to detect in a background of large natural variability, even by the end of the twenty-first century. To explain similar recent tropical expansion rates in the two hemispheres, natural variability must be taken into account. Recent coupled atmosphere–ocean variability, including the Pacific decadal oscillation, has contributed to tropical expansion. However, in models forced with observed sea surface temperatures, tropical expansion rates still vary widely because of internal atmospheric variability.