Projected Future Seasonal Changes in Tropical Summer Climate

Sobel, Adam H.; Camargo, Suzana J.

The authors analyze changes in the tropical sea surface temperature (SST), surface wind, and other fields from the twentieth to the twenty-first century in climate projections using the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 3 (CMIP3) multimodel ensemble, focusing on the seasons January–March (JFM) and July–September (JAS). When the annual mean change is subtracted, the remaining “seasonal changes” have robust, coherent structures. The JFM and JAS changes resemble each other very closely after either a change of sign or reflection about the equator. The seasonal changes include an increase in the summer hemisphere SST and a decrease in the winter hemisphere SST. These appear to be thermodynamic consequences of easterly trade winds strengthening in the winter subtropics and weakening in the summer subtropics. These in turn are associated with the weakening and expansion of the Hadley circulation, documented by previous studies, which themselves are likely consequences of changes in extratropical eddies. The seasonal SST changes influence the environment for deep convection: peak precipitation in the summer hemisphere increases by around 10% and convective available potential energy (CAPE) increases by as much as 25%. Comparable fractions of these changes are attributable to the annual mean change and the seasonal changes, though the two have very different spatial structures. Since the annual mean change is marked by relative warming in the Northern Hemisphere compared to the Southern Hemisphere, the seasonal changes oppose the annual mean change in JFM and enhance it in JAS.


  • thumnail for sobel_camargo_jclim11.pdf sobel_camargo_jclim11.pdf application/pdf 2.45 MB Download File

Also Published In

Journal of Climate

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Ocean and Climate Physics
American Meteorological Society
Published Here
June 2, 2015