Alexander Michael A.

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Michael A.

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  • Preprint
    Enhanced warming over the global subtropical western boundary currents
    ( 2011-11) Wu, Lixin ; Cai, Wenju ; Zhang, Liping ; Nakamura, Hisashi ; Timmermann, Axel ; Joyce, Terrence M. ; McPhaden, Michael J. ; Alexander, Michael A. ; Qiu, Bo ; Visbeck, Martin ; Chang, Ping ; Giese, Benjamin
    Subtropical western boundary currents are warm, fast flowing currents that form on the western side of ocean basins. They carry warm tropical water to the mid-latitudes and vent large amounts of heat and moisture to the atmosphere along their paths, affecting atmospheric jet streams and mid-latitude storms, as well as ocean carbon uptake. The possibility that these highly energetic and nonlinear currents might change under greenhouse gas forcing has raised significant concerns, but detecting such changes is challenging owing to limited observations. Here, using reconstructed sea surface temperature datasets and newly developed century-long ocean and atmosphere reanalysis products, we find that the post-1900 surface ocean warming rate over the path of these currents is two to three times faster than the global mean surface ocean warming rate. The accelerated warming is associated with a synchronous poleward shift and/or intensification of global subtropical western boundary currents in conjunction with a systematic change in winds over both hemispheres. This enhanced warming may reduce ocean's ability to absorb anthropogenic carbon dioxide over these regions. However, uncertainties in detection and attribution of these warming trends remain, pointing to a need for a long-term monitoring network of the global western boundary currents and their extensions.
  • Article
    Influence of the meridional shifts of the Kuroshio and the Oyashio Extensions on the atmospheric circulation
    (American Meteorological Society, 2011-02-01) Frankignoul, Claude ; Sennechael, Nathalie ; Kwon, Young-Oh ; Alexander, Michael A.
    The meridional shifts of the Oyashio Extension (OE) and of the Kuroshio Extension (KE), as derived from high-resolution monthly sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in 1982–2008 and historical temperature profiles in 1979–2007, respectively, are shown based on lagged regression analysis to significantly influence the large-scale atmospheric circulation. The signals are independent from the ENSO teleconnections, which were removed by seasonally varying, asymmetric regression onto the first three principal components of the tropical Pacific SST anomalies. The response to the meridional shifts of the OE front is equivalent barotropic and broadly resembles the North Pacific Oscillation/western Pacific pattern in a positive phase for a northward frontal displacement. The response may reach 35 m at 250 hPa for a typical OE shift, a strong sensitivity since the associated SST anomaly is 0.5 K. However, the amplitude, but not the pattern or statistical significance, strongly depends on the lag and an assumed 2-month atmospheric response time. The response is stronger during fall and winter and when the front is displaced southward. The response to the northward KE shifts primarily consists of a high centered in the northwestern North Pacific and hemispheric teleconnections. The response is also equivalent barotropic, except near Kamchatka, where it tilts slightly westward with height. The typical amplitude is half as large as that associated with OE shifts.
  • Article
    Investigating the local atmospheric response to a realistic shift in the Oyashio Sea surface Temperature Front
    (American Meteorological Society, 2015-02-01) Smirnov, Dimitry ; Newman, Matthew ; Alexander, Michael A. ; Kwon, Young-Oh ; Frankignoul, Claude
    The local atmospheric response to a realistic shift of the Oyashio Extension SST front in the western North Pacific is analyzed using a high-resolution (HR; 0.25°) version of the global Community Atmosphere Model, version 5 (CAM5). A northward shift in the SST front causes an atmospheric response consisting of a weak surface wind anomaly but a strong vertical circulation extending throughout the troposphere. In the lower troposphere, most of the SST anomaly–induced diabatic heating is balanced by poleward transient eddy heat and moisture fluxes. Collectively, this response differs from the circulation suggested by linear dynamics, where extratropical SST forcing produces shallow anomalous heating balanced by strong equatorward cold air advection driven by an anomalous, stationary surface low to the east. This latter response, however, is obtained by repeating the same experiment except using a relatively low-resolution (LR; 1°) version of CAM5. Comparison to observations suggests that the HR response is closer to nature than the LR response. Strikingly, HR and LR experiments have almost identical vertical profiles of . However, diagnosis of the diabatic quasigeostrophic vertical pressure velocity (ω) budget reveals that HR has a substantially stronger response, which together with upper-level mean differential thermal advection balances stronger vertical motion. The results herein suggest that changes in transient eddy heat and moisture fluxes are critical to the overall local atmospheric response to Oyashio Front anomalies, which may consequently yield a stronger downstream response. These changes may require the high resolution to be fully reproduced, warranting further experiments of this type with other high-resolution atmosphere-only and fully coupled GCMs.
  • Article
    Projected effects of climate change on Pseudo-nitzschia bloom dynamics in the Gulf of Maine
    (Elsevier, 2022-03-24) Clark, Suzanna ; Hubbard, Katherine A. ; Ralston, David K. ; McGillicuddy, Dennis J. ; Stock, Charles A. ; Alexander, Michael A. ; Curchitser, Enrique N.
    Worldwide, warming ocean temperatures have contributed to extreme harmful algal bloom events and shifts in phytoplankton species composition. In 2016 in the Gulf of Maine (GOM), an unprecedented Pseudo-nitzschia bloom led to the first domoic-acid induced shellfishery closures in the region. Potential links between climate change, warming temperatures, and the GOM Pseudo-nitzschia assemblage, however, remain unexplored. In this study, a global climate change projection previously downscaled to 7-km resolution for the Northwest Atlantic was further refined with a 1–3-km resolution simulation of the GOM to investigate the effects of climate change on HAB dynamics. A 25-year time slice of projected conditions at the end of the 21st century (2073–2097) was compared to a 25-year hindcast of contemporary ocean conditions (1994–2018) and analyzed for changes to GOM inflows, transport, and Pseudo-nitzschia australis growth potential. On average, climate change is predicted to lead to increased temperatures, decreased salinity, and increased stratification in the GOM, with the largest changes occurring in the late summer. Inflows from the Scotian Shelf are projected to increase, and alongshore transport in the Eastern Maine Coastal Current is projected to intensify. Increasing ocean temperatures will likely make P. australis growth conditions less favorable in the southern and western GOM but improve P. australis growth conditions in the eastern GOM, including a later growing season in the fall, and a longer growing season in the spring. Combined, these changes suggest that P. australis blooms in the eastern GOM could intensify in the 21st century, and that the overall Pseudo-nitzschia species assemblage might shift to warmer-adapted species such as P. plurisecta or other Pseudo-nitzschia species that may be introduced.
  • Article
    Projecting ocean acidification impacts for the Gulf of Maine to 2050: new tools and expectations
    (University of California Press, 2021-05-13) Siedlecki, Samantha A. ; Salisbury, Joseph E. ; Gledhill, Dwight K. ; Bastidas, Carolina ; Meseck, Shannon L. ; McGarry, Kelly ; Hunt, Christopher W. ; Alexander, Michael A. ; Lavoie, Diane ; Wang, Zhaohui Aleck ; Scott, James D. ; Brady, Damian C. ; Mlsna, Ivy ; Azetsu-Scott, Kumiko ; Liberti, Catherine M. ; Melrose, D. Christopher ; White, Meredith M. ; Pershing, Andrew J. ; Vandemark, Douglas ; Townsend, David W. ; Chen, Changsheng ; Mook, Bill ; Morrison, J. Ruairidh
    Ocean acidification (OA) is increasing predictably in the global ocean as rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide lead to higher oceanic concentrations of inorganic carbon. The Gulf of Maine (GOM) is a seasonally varying region of confluence for many processes that further affect the carbonate system including freshwater influences and high productivity, particularly near the coast where local processes impart a strong influence. Two main regions within the GOM currently experience carbonate conditions that are suboptimal for many organisms—the nearshore and subsurface deep shelf. OA trends over the past 15 years have been masked in the GOM by recent warming and changes to the regional circulation that locally supply more Gulf Stream waters. The region is home to many commercially important shellfish that are vulnerable to OA conditions, as well as to the human populations whose dependence on shellfish species in the fishery has continued to increase over the past decade. Through a review of the sensitivity of the regional marine ecosystem inhabitants, we identified a critical threshold of 1.5 for the aragonite saturation state (Ωa). A combination of regional high-resolution simulations that include coastal processes were used to project OA conditions for the GOM into 2050. By 2050, the Ωa declines everywhere in the GOM with most pronounced impacts near the coast, in subsurface waters, and associated with freshening. Under the RCP 8.5 projected climate scenario, the entire GOM will experience conditions below the critical Ωa threshold of 1.5 for most of the year by 2050. Despite these declines, the projected warming in the GOM imparts a partial compensatory effect to Ωa by elevating saturation states considerably above what would result from acidification alone and preserving some important fisheries locations, including much of Georges Bank, above the critical threshold.
  • Article
    ENSO and Pacific decadal variability in the Community Climate System Model Version 4
    (American Meteorological Society, 2012-04-15) Deser, Clara ; Phillips, Adam S. ; Tomas, Robert A. ; Okumura, Yuko M. ; Alexander, Michael A. ; Capotondi, Antonietta ; Scott, James D. ; Kwon, Young-Oh ; Ohba, Masamichi
    This study presents an overview of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon and Pacific decadal variability (PDV) simulated in a multicentury preindustrial control integration of the NCAR Community Climate System Model version 4 (CCSM4) at nominal 1° latitude–longitude resolution. Several aspects of ENSO are improved in CCSM4 compared to its predecessor CCSM3, including the lengthened period (3–6 yr), the larger range of amplitude and frequency of events, and the longer duration of La Niña compared to El Niño. However, the overall magnitude of ENSO in CCSM4 is overestimated by ~30%. The simulated ENSO exhibits characteristics consistent with the delayed/recharge oscillator paradigm, including correspondence between the lengthened period and increased latitudinal width of the anomalous equatorial zonal wind stress. Global seasonal atmospheric teleconnections with accompanying impacts on precipitation and temperature are generally well simulated, although the wintertime deepening of the Aleutian low erroneously persists into spring. The vertical structure of the upper-ocean temperature response to ENSO in the north and south Pacific displays a realistic seasonal evolution, with notable asymmetries between warm and cold events. The model shows evidence of atmospheric circulation precursors over the North Pacific associated with the “seasonal footprinting mechanism,” similar to observations. Simulated PDV exhibits a significant spectral peak around 15 yr, with generally realistic spatial pattern and magnitude. However, PDV linkages between the tropics and extratropics are weaker than observed.
  • Article
    Impact of poleward moisture transport from the North Pacific on the acceleration of sea ice loss in the Arctic since 2002
    (American Meteorological Society, 2017-07-26) Lee, Ho Jin ; Kwon, M. O. ; Yeh, Sang-Wook ; Kwon, Young-Oh ; Park, Wonsun ; Park, Jae Hun ; Kim, Young Ho ; Alexander, Michael A.
    Arctic sea ice area (SIA) during late summer and early fall decreased substantially over the last four decades, and its decline accelerated beginning in the early 2000s. Statistical analyses of observations show that enhanced poleward moisture transport from the North Pacific to the Arctic Ocean contributed to the accelerated SIA decrease during the most recent period. As a consequence, specific humidity in the Arctic Pacific sector significantly increased along with an increase of downward longwave radiation beginning in 2002, which led to a significant acceleration in the decline of SIA in the Arctic Pacific sector. The resulting sea ice loss led to increased evaporation in the Arctic Ocean, resulting in a further increase of the specific humidity in mid-to-late fall, thus acting as a positive feedback to the sea ice loss. The overall set of processes is also found in a long control simulation of a coupled climate model.
  • Article
    ENSO’s impact on the gap wind regions of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean
    (American Meteorological Society, 2012-05-15) Alexander, Michael A. ; Seo, Hyodae ; Xie, Shang-Ping ; Scott, James D.
    The recently released NCEP Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) is used to examine the response to ENSO in the northeast tropical Pacific Ocean (NETP) during 1979–2009. The normally cool Pacific sea surface temperatures (SSTs) associated with wind jets through the gaps in the Central American mountains at Tehuantepec, Papagayo, and Panama are substantially warmer (colder) than the surrounding ocean during El Niño (La Niña) events. Ocean dynamics generate the ENSO-related SST anomalies in the gap wind regions as the surface fluxes damp the SSTs anomalies, while the Ekman heat transport is generally in quadrature with the anomalies. The ENSO-driven warming is associated with large-scale deepening of the thermocline; with the cold thermocline water at greater depths during El Niño in the NETP, it is less likely to be vertically mixed to the surface, particularly in the gap wind regions where the thermocline is normally very close to the surface. The thermocline deepening is enhanced to the south of the Costa Rica Dome in the Papagayo region, which contributes to the local ENSO-driven SST anomalies. The NETP thermocline changes are due to coastal Kelvin waves that initiate westward-propagating Rossby waves, and possibly ocean eddies, rather than by local Ekman pumping. These findings were confirmed with regional ocean model experiments: only integrations that included interannually varying ocean boundary conditions were able to simulate the thermocline deepening and localized warming in the NETP during El Niño events; the simulation with variable surface fluxes, but boundary conditions that repeated the seasonal cycle, did not.
  • Article
    Seasonal-to-interannual prediction of North American coastal marine ecosystems: forecast methods, mechanisms of predictability, and priority developments
    (Elsevier, 2020-02-20) Jacox, Michael ; Alexander, Michael A. ; Siedlecki, Samantha A. ; Chen, Ke ; Kwon, Young-Oh ; Brodie, Stephanie ; Ortiz, Ivonne ; Tommasi, Desiree ; Widlansky, Matthew J. ; Barrie, Daniel ; Capotondi, Antonietta ; Cheng, Wei ; Di Lorenzo, Emanuele ; Edwards, Christopher ; Fiechter, Jerome ; Fratantoni, Paula S. ; Hazen, Elliott L. ; Hermann, Albert J. ; Kumar, Arun ; Miller, Arthur J. ; Pirhalla, Douglas ; Pozo Buil, Mercedes ; Ray, Sulagna ; Sheridan, Scott ; Subramanian, Aneesh C. ; Thompson, Philip ; Thorne, Lesley ; Annamalai, Hariharasubramanian ; Aydin, Kerim ; Bograd, Steven ; Griffis, Roger B. ; Kearney, Kelly ; Kim, Hyemi ; Mariotti, Annarita ; Merrifield, Mark ; Rykaczewski, Ryan R.
    Marine ecosystem forecasting is an area of active research and rapid development. Promise has been shown for skillful prediction of physical, biogeochemical, and ecological variables on a range of timescales, suggesting potential for forecasts to aid in the management of living marine resources and coastal communities. However, the mechanisms underlying forecast skill in marine ecosystems are often poorly understood, and many forecasts, especially for biological variables, rely on empirical statistical relationships developed from historical observations. Here, we review statistical and dynamical marine ecosystem forecasting methods and highlight examples of their application along U.S. coastlines for seasonal-to-interannual (1–24 month) prediction of properties ranging from coastal sea level to marine top predator distributions. We then describe known mechanisms governing marine ecosystem predictability and how they have been used in forecasts to date. These mechanisms include physical atmospheric and oceanic processes, biogeochemical and ecological responses to physical forcing, and intrinsic characteristics of species themselves. In reviewing the state of the knowledge on forecasting techniques and mechanisms underlying marine ecosystem predictability, we aim to facilitate forecast development and uptake by (i) identifying methods and processes that can be exploited for development of skillful regional forecasts, (ii) informing priorities for forecast development and verification, and (iii) improving understanding of conditional forecast skill (i.e., a priori knowledge of whether a forecast is likely to be skillful). While we focus primarily on coastal marine ecosystems surrounding North America (and the U.S. in particular), we detail forecast methods, physical and biological mechanisms, and priority developments that are globally relevant.
  • Article
    Role of the Gulf Stream and Kuroshio–Oyashio systems in large-scale atmosphere–ocean interaction : a review
    (American Meteorological Society, 2010-06-15) Kwon, Young-Oh ; Alexander, Michael A. ; Bond, Nicholas A. ; Frankignoul, Claude ; Nakamura, Hisashi ; Qiu, Bo ; Thompson, LuAnne
    Ocean–atmosphere interaction over the Northern Hemisphere western boundary current (WBC) regions (i.e., the Gulf Stream, Kuroshio, Oyashio, and their extensions) is reviewed with an emphasis on their role in basin-scale climate variability. SST anomalies exhibit considerable variance on interannual to decadal time scales in these regions. Low-frequency SST variability is primarily driven by basin-scale wind stress curl variability via the oceanic Rossby wave adjustment of the gyre-scale circulation that modulates the latitude and strength of the WBC-related oceanic fronts. Rectification of the variability by mesoscale eddies, reemergence of the anomalies from the preceding winter, and tropical remote forcing also play important roles in driving and maintaining the low-frequency variability in these regions. In the Gulf Stream region, interaction with the deep western boundary current also likely influences the low-frequency variability. Surface heat fluxes damp the low-frequency SST anomalies over the WBC regions; thus, heat fluxes originate with heat anomalies in the ocean and have the potential to drive the overlying atmospheric circulation. While recent observational studies demonstrate a local atmospheric boundary layer response to WBC changes, the latter’s influence on the large-scale atmospheric circulation is still unclear. Nevertheless, heat and moisture fluxes from the WBCs into the atmosphere influence the mean state of the atmospheric circulation, including anchoring the latitude of the storm tracks to the WBCs. Furthermore, many climate models suggest that the large-scale atmospheric response to SST anomalies driven by ocean dynamics in WBC regions can be important in generating decadal climate variability. As a step toward bridging climate model results and observations, the degree of realism of the WBC in current climate model simulations is assessed. Finally, outstanding issues concerning ocean–atmosphere interaction in WBC regions and its impact on climate variability are discussed.