How atmospheric and oceanic processes control North American precipitation variability has been extensively investigated, and yet debates remain. Here we address this question in a 50 km-resolution flux-adjusted global climate model. The high spatial resolution and flux adjustment greatly improve the model’s ability to realistically simulate North American precipitation, the relevant tropical and midlatitude variability and their teleconnections. Comparing two millennium-long simulations with and without an interactive ocean, we find that the leading modes of North American precipitation variability on seasonal and longer timescales exhibit nearly identical spatial and spectral characteristics, explained fraction of total variance and associated atmospheric circulation. This finding suggests that these leading modes arise from internal atmospheric dynamics and atmosphere-land coupling. However, in the fully coupled simulation, North American precipitation variability still correlates significantly with tropical ocean variability, consistent with observations and prior literature. We find that tropical ocean variability does not create its own type of atmospheric variability but excites internal atmospheric modes of variability in midlatitudes. This oceanic impact on North American precipitation is secondary to atmospheric impacts based on correlation. However, relative to the simulation without an interactive ocean, the fully coupled simulation amplifies precipitation variance over southwest North America (SWNA) during late spring to summer by up to 90%. The amplification is caused by a stronger variability in atmospheric moisture content that is attributed to tropical Pacific sea surface temperature variability. Enhanced atmospheric moisture variations over the tropical Pacific are transported by seasonal mean southwesterly winds into SWNA, resulting in larger precipitation variance.

Quantifying atmosphere and ocean origins of North American precipitation variability

Pascale S.
2021

Abstract

How atmospheric and oceanic processes control North American precipitation variability has been extensively investigated, and yet debates remain. Here we address this question in a 50 km-resolution flux-adjusted global climate model. The high spatial resolution and flux adjustment greatly improve the model’s ability to realistically simulate North American precipitation, the relevant tropical and midlatitude variability and their teleconnections. Comparing two millennium-long simulations with and without an interactive ocean, we find that the leading modes of North American precipitation variability on seasonal and longer timescales exhibit nearly identical spatial and spectral characteristics, explained fraction of total variance and associated atmospheric circulation. This finding suggests that these leading modes arise from internal atmospheric dynamics and atmosphere-land coupling. However, in the fully coupled simulation, North American precipitation variability still correlates significantly with tropical ocean variability, consistent with observations and prior literature. We find that tropical ocean variability does not create its own type of atmospheric variability but excites internal atmospheric modes of variability in midlatitudes. This oceanic impact on North American precipitation is secondary to atmospheric impacts based on correlation. However, relative to the simulation without an interactive ocean, the fully coupled simulation amplifies precipitation variance over southwest North America (SWNA) during late spring to summer by up to 90%. The amplification is caused by a stronger variability in atmospheric moisture content that is attributed to tropical Pacific sea surface temperature variability. Enhanced atmospheric moisture variations over the tropical Pacific are transported by seasonal mean southwesterly winds into SWNA, resulting in larger precipitation variance.
Zhang H.; Seager R.; He J.; Diao H.; Pascale S.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/850247
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