7B.4 Effects of Solar Geoengineering on Meridional Energy Transport and the ITCZ

Tuesday, 24 January 2017: 4:45 PM
609 (Washington State Convention Center )
Rick D Russotto, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; and T. P. Ackerman and D. M. W. Frierson

The polar amplification of warming and the ability of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) to shift to the north or south are two very important problems in climate science. Examining these behaviors in global climate models (GCMs) running solar geoengineering experiments is helpful not only for predicting the effects of solar geoengineering, but also for understanding how these processes work under increased CO2. Both polar amplification and ITCZ shifts are closely related to the meridional transport of moist static energy (MSE) by the atmosphere. In this study we examine changes in MSE transport in 10 fully coupled GCMs in Experiment G1 of the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project, in which the solar constant is reduced to compensate for abruptly quadrupled CO2 concentrations. In this experiment, poleward MSE transport decreases relative to preindustrial conditions in all models, in contrast to the CMIP5 abrupt4xCO2 experiment, in which poleward MSE transport increases. The increase in poleward MSE transport under increased CO2 is due to latent heat transport, as specific humidity increases faster in the tropics than at the poles; this mechanism is not present under G1 conditions, so the reduction in dry static energy transport due to a weakened equator-to-pole temperature gradient leads to weaker energy transport overall. Changes in cross-equatorial MSE transport in G1, meanwhile, are anticorrelated with shifts in the ITCZ. The northward ITCZ shift in G1 is 0.14 degrees in the multi-model mean and ranges from -0.33 to 0.89 degrees between the models. We examine the specific forcing and feedback terms responsible for changes in MSE transport in G1 by running experiments with a moist energy balance model. This work will help identify the largest sources of uncertainty regarding ITCZ shifts under solar geoengineering, and will help improve our understanding of the reasons for the residual polar amplification that occurs in the G1 experiment.
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