Atmospheric Circulation Response to an Instantaneous Doubling of Carbon Dioxide Part I: Model Experiments and Transient Thermal Response in the Troposphere

Wu, Yutian; Seager, Richard; Ting, Mingfang; Naik, Naomi H.; Shaw, Tiffany Ann

This study aims to understand the dynamical mechanisms driving the changes in the general circulation of the atmosphere due to increased carbon dioxide (CO2) by looking into the transient step-by-step adjustment of the circulation. The transient atmospheric adjustment is examined using the National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Atmospheric Model Version 3 coupled to a slab ocean model and the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is uniformly and instantaneously doubled. The thermal structure and circulation response is well established after one year of integration with the magnitudes gradually increasing afterwards towards quasi-equilibrium. Tropical upper tropospheric warming occurs in the first month. The expansion of the warming in the middle and upper troposphere to the subtropics occurs later and is found to be primarily dynamically-driven due to the intensification of transient eddy momentum flux convergence and resulting anomalous descending motion in this region. The poleward displacement of the midlatitude tropospheric jet streams occurs together with the change in eddy momentum flux convergence but only after the intensification of the subpolar westerlies in the stratosphere. The results demonstrate the importance of the tropospheric eddies in setting up the extratropical tropospheric response to global warming.


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Also Published In

Journal of Climate

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
Published Here
June 20, 2011