Model evidence for low-level cloud feedback driving persistent changes in atmospheric circulation and regional hydroclimate

Robert J. Burgman, Benjamin Kirtman, Amy C Clement, Heather Vazquez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent studies suggest that low clouds in the Pacific play an important role in the observed decadal climate variability and future climate change. In this study, we implement a novel modeling experiment designed to isolate how interactions between local and remote feedbacks associated with low cloud, SSTs, and the large-scale circulation play a significant role in the observed persistence of tropical Pacific SST and associated North American drought. The modeling approach involves the incorporation of observed patterns of satellite-derived shortwave cloud radiative effect (SWCRE) into the coupled model framework and is ideally suited for examining the role of local and large-scale coupled feedbacks and ocean heat transport in Pacific decadal variability. We show that changes in SWCRE forcing in eastern subtropical Pacific alone reproduces much of the observed changes in SST and atmospheric circulation over the past 16 years, including the observed changes in precipitation over much of the Western Hemisphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)428-437
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume44
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 16 2017

Keywords

  • cloud radiative effect
  • decadal
  • drought
  • feedback
  • hiatus
  • Pacific

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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