Exploring the sensitivity of Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation to different surface temperature forcing using a statistical–dynamical atmospheric model
Climate and weather conditions in the mid-latitudes are strongly driven by the large-scale atmosphere circulation. Observational data indicate that important components of the large-scale circulation have changed in recent decades, including the strength and the width of the Hadley cell, jets, storm tracks and planetary waves. Here, we use a new statistical–dynamical atmosphere model (SDAM) to test the individual sensitivities of the large-scale atmospheric circulation to changes in the zonal temperature gradient, meridional temperature gradient and global-mean temperature. We analyze the Northern Hemisphere Hadley circulation, jet streams, storm tracks and planetary waves by systematically altering the zonal temperature asymmetry, the meridional temperature gradient and the global-mean temperature. Our results show that the strength of the Hadley cell, storm tracks and jet streams depend, in terms of relative changes, almost linearly on both the global-mean temperature and the meridional temperature gradient, whereas the zonal temperature asymmetry has little or no influence. The magnitude of planetary waves is affected by all three temperature components, as expected from theoretical dynamical considerations. The width of the Hadley cell behaves nonlinearly with respect to all three temperature components in the SDAM. Moreover, some of these observed large-scale atmospheric changes are expected from dynamical equations and are therefore an important part of model validation.