Evidence for a weakening of tropical surface wind extremes in response to atmospheric warming

Guillaume Gastineau, Brian J Soden

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14 Scopus citations

Abstract

The changes of extreme winds and its links with precipitation are assessed over the past two decades using daily satellite observations and climate model simulations. Both observations and models indicate a decrease in the frequency of the strongest wind events and an increase in the frequency of light wind events in response to a warming of the tropical oceans. The heaviest precipitation events are found to be more frequent when the tropical oceans warm, but the surface winds associated with these extreme rainfall events weaken. These results add further evidence to suggest that the atmospheric circulation becomes less energetic as the climate warms. It further suggests that the enhancement of the extreme precipitation events is mainly a result of increasing atmospheric water vapor and occurs despite a weakening of the large-scale circulation, which acts to diminish the mass convergence toward the precipitating zones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL09706
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume38
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Geophysics

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