Aquaplanet simulations with winter and summer hemispheres: model setup and circulation response to warming

Schemm, Sebastian; Röthlisberger, Matthias

To support further understanding of circulation changes in a warming climate, an idealised aquaplanet model setup containing summer and winter hemispheres is presented, and the results of circulation changes under warming are discussed. First, a setup is introduced that enables aquaplanet simulations with a warmer and a colder hemisphere, including realistic-looking summer and winter jet streams, storm tracks, and precipitation patterns that are fairly similar to observations, as well as a more intense and equatorward storm track in the winter compared to the summer hemisphere. The sea surface temperature (SST) distribution used here is inspired by the June–July–August zonal mean SST found in reanalysis data and is flexible to allow control of the occurrence of a single or double intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ). The setup is then used to investigate circulation changes under uniform warming, as motivated by recent research. For example, the stronger poleward shift of the storm tracks during summer compared to winter is reproduced. Furthermore, the jet waviness decreases under warming when compared on isentropes with maximum wind speed or isentropes at similar heights in pressure space. Jet stream waviness increases under warming when compared at similar-valued isentropes but primarily because the corresponding isentrope is closer to the surface in the warmer climate and waviness climatologically increases downwards in the atmosphere. A detailed analysis of the changes in wave amplitude for different wavenumbers confirms that the amplitude of large waves increases with warming, while that of short waves decreases with warming. The reduction in wave amplitude of short synoptic waves is found to dominate in the jet core region, where jet waviness also decreases and is more pronounced on the equatorward side of the jet. Long waves increase in amplitude on the poleward side of the jet and at upper stratospheric levels, which is consistent with increased jet waviness at these levels. The projected increased amplitude of planetary waves and the reduced amplitude of synoptic waves are thus clear in our aquaplanet simulations and do not require zonal asymmetries or regional warming patterns. During so-called high-amplitude wave events, there is no evidence for a preferential phase of Rossby waves of wavenumbers 5 or 7, indicating the crucial role of stationary waves forced by orography or land–sea contrast in establishing previously reported preferential phases. We confirm that feature-based block detection requires significant tuning to the warmer climate to avoid the occurrence of spurious trends. After adjustment for changes in tropopause height, the block detection used here shows no trend in the summer hemisphere and an increase in blocking in the colder hemisphere. We also confirm previous findings that the number of surface cyclones tends to decrease globally under warming and that the cyclone lifetimes become shorter, except for very long-lived cyclones.

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Schemm, Sebastian / Röthlisberger, Matthias: Aquaplanet simulations with winter and summer hemispheres: model setup and circulation response to warming. 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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