Theses Doctoral

The Interacting Dynamics of Tropical and Extratropical Climate: Insights from Observations, and Low-order and General Circulation Models

Karamperidou, Christina

Using methods from dynamical systems theory in observations, low-order and general circulation models (GCMs), this dissertation explores (a) the response of midlatitude jet and eddy energy to climate change and variability, and (b) variability in predictability of the first kind of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon.
First, an analysis framework inspired by the Lorenz-1984 model is developed to study the relationship of the probability structure of the North Atlantic jet stream and storm track (location and strength) with (a) hemispheric surface temperature gradients (equator-to-pole gradient and ocean-land contrast), and (b) ENSO. Both the equator-to-pole gradient and the ocean-land contrast are projected to decrease in response to greenhouse gas forcing. The shifts in the probability structure of jet and eddy energy in relation to decreasing surface temperature gradients are in the opposite direction than the shifts for El Niño forcing. However, in climate change projections, the El Niño-like tropical pacific warming dominates the response of the jet/eddy energy probability, resulting in a strengthening and equatorward shift of the subtropical jet. The response of the subpolar jet is separate (poleward shift and strengthening), indicating that the combined effect of the tropical and extratropical SST changes under strong greenhouse gas forcing may set up conditions for a separation of the jet stream in the North Atlantic.
Then, ENSO predictability of the first kind is examined in observations and in pre-industrial model simulations, using local lyapunov exponents. Multidecadal variations in ENSO predictability are shown in a 2000-yr long simulation from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) CM2.1 model. The GCM is found to be less predictable than nature and than an intermediate model of the tropical Pacific (Zebiak-Cane model). Finally, it is shown that increased predictability is associated with a deeper thermocline in the west Pacific up to five years prior to the peak of the event, along with an earlier deepening of the thermocline in the east Pacific in the months preceding the peak.
This dissertation therefore illustrates that the analysis of key features of tropical and extratropical climate in a physically meaningful "reduced space" can provide a focused interpretation of GCM projections for climate change and variability.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Earth and Environmental Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Lall, Upmanu
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 2, 2014