Is climate sensitivity related to dynamical sensitivity? A Southern Hemisphere perspective

Grise, Kevin M.; Polvani, Lorenzo M.

This study examines whether the spread in the climate sensitivity of Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) models also captures the spread in the Southern Hemisphere dynamical response to greenhouse gas forcing. Three metrics are proposed to quantify the “dynamical sensitivity” of the Southern Hemisphere: the poleward expansion of the Hadley circulation, the poleward expansion of the subtropical dry zone, and the poleward shift of the midlatitude jet. In the CMIP5 abrupt 4 × CO₂ integrations, the expansion of the Hadley circulation is well correlated with climate sensitivity in all seasons; in contrast, the shifts in the subtropical dry zone and midlatitude jet are significantly correlated with climate sensitivity only in summer and fall. In winter, those responses are more strongly linked to the control climatology in each model. Thus, a narrow focus on traditional climate sensitivity alone might miss out on important features of the atmospheric circulation's response to increasing greenhouse gases, particularly in the extratropics.

Geographic Areas


Also Published In

Geophysical Research Letters

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics
Ocean and Climate Physics
American Geophysical Union
Published Here
February 25, 2016