Using the climate feedback response analysis method to quantify climate feedbacks in the middle atmosphere

Kuilman, Maartje Sanne; Zhang, Qiong; Cai, Ming; Wen, Qin

Over recent decades it has become clear that the middle atmosphere has a significant impact on surface and tropospheric climate. A better understanding of the middle atmosphere and how it reacts to the current increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide (inline-formulaCO2) is therefore necessary. In this study, we investigate the response of the middle atmosphere to a doubling of the inline-formulaCO2 concentration, and the associated changes in sea surface temperatures (SSTs), using the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM). We use the climate feedback response analysis method (CFRAM) to calculate the partial temperature changes due to an external forcing and climate feedbacks in the atmosphere. As this method has the unique feature of additivity, these partial temperature changes are linearly addable. In this study, we discuss the direct forcing of inline-formulaCO2 and the effects of the ozone, water vapour, cloud, albedo and dynamical feedbacks.

As expected, our results show that the direct forcing of inline-formulaCO2 cools the middle atmosphere. This cooling becomes stronger with increasing height; the cooling in the upper stratosphere is about three times as strong as the cooling in the lower stratosphere. The ozone feedback yields a radiative feedback that mitigates this cooling in most regions of the middle atmosphere. However, in the tropical lower stratosphere, and in some regions of the mesosphere, the ozone feedback has a cooling effect. The increase in the inline-formulaCO2 concentration causes the dynamics to change. The temperature response due to this dynamical feedback is small in terms of the global average, although there are large temperature changes due to this feedback locally. The temperature change in the lower stratosphere is influenced by the water vapour feedback and, to a lesser degree, by the cloud and albedo feedback. These feedbacks play no role in the upper stratosphere and the mesosphere. We find that the effects of the changed SSTs on the middle atmosphere are relatively small compared to the effects of changing the inline-formulaCO2. However, the changes in SSTs are responsible for dynamical feedbacks that cause large temperature changes. Moreover, the temperature response to the water vapour feedback in the lower stratosphere is almost solely due to changes in the SSTs. As CFRAM has not been applied to the middle atmosphere in this way before, this study also serves to investigate the applicability and the limitations of this method. This work shows that CFRAM is a very powerful tool for studying climate feedbacks in the middle atmosphere. However, it should be noted that there is a relatively large error term associated with the current method in the middle atmosphere, which can, to a large extent, be explained by the linearization in the method.

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Kuilman, Maartje Sanne / Zhang, Qiong / Cai, Ming / et al: Using the climate feedback response analysis method to quantify climate feedbacks in the middle atmosphere. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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Rechteinhaber: Maartje Sanne Kuilman et al.

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