5.7 A New Model Hierarchy to Understand the Impact of Radiation and Convection on the Extratropical Circulation Response to Climate Change

Tuesday, 27 June 2017: 9:45 AM
Salon F (Marriott Portland Downtown Waterfront)
Zhihong Tan, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL; and T. A. Shaw

State-of-the-art climate models exhibit a large spread in the magnitude of projected poleward jet shift and Hadley cell expansion in response to warming. Interestingly, some idealized gray radiation models with simplified convective schemes produce an equatorward jet shift in response to warming. In order to understand the impact of radiation and convection on the circulation response and resolve the discrepancies across the model hierarchy, we introduce a new model radiation-convection hierarchy. The hierarchy spans idealized (gray) through sophisticated (RRTMG) radiation, and idealized (Betts-Miller) through sophisticated (eddy-diffusivity mass-flux scheme) convection schemes in the same general circulation model. It is used to systematically explore the impact of radiation and convection on the extratropical circulation response to climate change independent of mean surface temperature and meridional temperature gradient responses.

With a gray radiation scheme, the jet stream shift depends on the prescribed stratospheric optical depth, which controls the climatological jet regime. A large optical depth leads to a split jet and an equatorward shift. A small optical depth leads to a poleward shift. The different shifts are connected to the vertical extent of tropical long wave cooling that impacts the subtropical jet and Hadley circulation. In spite of these sensitivities, the storm track position, defined by the meridonal eddy heat flux and moist static energy flux maxima, shifts robustly poleward. In contrast to gray radiation, with a comprehensive radiation scheme, the jet and storm track shift robustly poleward irrespective of radiative assumptions (clear sky versus cloudy sky, ozone versus no ozone). This response is reproduced by adding more spectral bands and including the water vapor feedback in the gray scheme. Dynamical sensitivities to convective assumption are also explored. Overall the new hierarchy highlights the importance of radiative and convective processes for shaping the extratropical circulation response to climate change.

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