AGW Observer

Observations of anthropogenic global warming

New research from last week 51/2011

Posted by Ari Jokimäki on December 26, 2011

Here is the new research published last week. I’m not including everything that was published but just some papers that got my attention. Those who follow my Facebook page (and/or Twitter) have already seen most of these, as I post these there as soon as they are published. Here, I’ll just put them out in one batch. Sometimes I might also point out to some other news as well, but the new research will be the focus here. Here’s the archive for the news of previous weeks. By the way, if this sort of thing interests you, be sure to check out A Few Things Illconsidered, they have a weekly posting containing lots of links to new research and other climate related news.

Observed decrease in Atlantic meridional overturning circulation is probably natural fluctuation

Observation of decadal change in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation using 10 years of continuous transport data – Send et al. (2011)“The meridional overturning circulation (MOC) represents the main mechanism for the oceanic northward heat transport in the Atlantic, and fluctuations of this circulation are believed to have major impacts on northern hemisphere climate. While numerical ocean and climate models and paleo-records show large variability in this circulation, the use of direct observations of the MOC for detecting climate-timescale changes has proven difficult so far. This report presents the first observational record of MOC measurements that is continuous and sufficiently long to exhibit decadal-scale changes, here a decrease by 20% over the observational period (Jan. 2000–June 2009) and large interannual changes in the flow and its vertical structure. Data are from a mooring array at 16°N (Meridional Overturning Variability Experiment, MOVE). The observed change agrees with the amplitude of multi-decadal natural fluctuations seen in numerical ocean and climate models. Knowledge of the existence and phasing of such internal cycles provides multi-decadal climate predictability. Recently, some numerical model simulations have produced results that show a weakening of the MOC since the 1990’s and observational confirmation of this now is a high priority.” Send, U., M. Lankhorst, and T. Kanzow (2011), Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L24606, doi:10.1029/2011GL049801.

Measurements and successful modelling of atmospheric carbon dioxide in 4-D

Three-dimensional variations of atmospheric CO2: aircraft measurements and multi-transport model simulations – Niwa et al. (2011)“Numerical simulation and validation of three-dimensional structure of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is necessary for quantification of transport model uncertainty and its role on surface flux estimation by inverse modeling. Simulations of atmospheric CO2 were performed using four transport models and two sets of surface fluxes compared with an aircraft measurement dataset of Comprehensive Observation Network for Trace gases by AIrLiner (CONTRAIL), covering various latitudes, longitudes, and heights. Under this transport model intercomparison project, spatiotemporal variations of CO2 concentration for 2006–2007 were analyzed with a three-dimensional perspective. Results show that the models reasonably simulated vertical profiles and seasonal variations not only over northern latitude areas but also over the tropics and southern latitudes. From CONTRAIL measurements and model simulations, intrusion of northern CO2 in to the Southern Hemisphere, through the upper troposphere, was confirmed. Furthermore, models well simulated the vertical propagation of seasonal variation in the northern free troposphere. However, significant model-observation discrepancies were found in Asian regions, which are attributable to uncertainty of the surface CO2 flux data. In summer season, differences in latitudinal gradients by the fluxes are comparable to or greater than model-model differences even in the free troposphere. This result suggests that active summer vertical transport sufficiently ventilates flux signals up to the free troposphere and the models could use those for inferring surface CO2 fluxes.” Niwa, Y., Patra, P. K., Sawa, Y., Machida, T., Matsueda, H., Belikov, D., Maki, T., Ikegami, M., Imasu, R., Maksyutov, S., Oda, T., Satoh, M., and Takigawa, M., Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 13359-13375, doi:10.5194/acp-11-13359-2011, 2011. [Full text]

Hansen et al. new paper on Earth’s energy imbalance

Earth’s energy imbalance and implications – Hansen et al. (2011)“Improving observations of ocean heat content show that Earth is absorbing more energy from the Sun than it is radiating to space as heat, even during the recent solar minimum. The inferred planetary energy imbalance, 0.58 ± 0.15 W m−2 during the 6-yr period 2005–2010, confirms the dominant role of the human-made greenhouse effect in driving global climate change. Observed surface temperature change and ocean heat gain together constrain the net climate forcing and ocean mixing rates. We conclude that most climate models mix heat too efficiently into the deep ocean and as a result underestimate the negative forcing by human-made aerosols. Aerosol climate forcing today is inferred to be −1.6 ± 0.3 W m−2, implying substantial aerosol indirect climate forcing via cloud changes. Continued failure to quantify the specific origins of this large forcing is untenable, as knowledge of changing aerosol effects is needed to understand future climate change. We conclude that recent slowdown of ocean heat uptake was caused by a delayed rebound effect from Mount Pinatubo aerosols and a deep prolonged solar minimum. Observed sea level rise during the Argo float era is readily accounted for by ice melt and ocean thermal expansion, but the ascendency of ice melt leads us to anticipate acceleration of the rate of sea level rise this decade.” Hansen, J., Sato, M., Kharecha, P., and von Schuckmann, K., Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 13421-13449, doi:10.5194/acp-11-13421-2011, 2011. [Full text]

Vegetation growth trend has decreased in China due to reduced precipitation

Recent change of vegetation growth trend in China – Peng et al. (2011)“Using satellite-derived normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data, several previous studies have indicated that vegetation growth significantly increased in most areas of China during the period 1982–99. In this letter, we extended the study period to 2010. We found that at the national scale the growing season (April–October) NDVI significantly increased by 0.0007 yr−1 from 1982 to 2010, but the increasing trend in NDVI over the last decade decreased in comparison to that of the 1982–99 period. The trends in NDVI show significant seasonal and spatial variances. The increasing trend in April and May (AM) NDVI (0.0013 yr−1) is larger than those in June, July and August (JJA) (0.0003 yr−1) and September and October (SO) (0.0008 yr−1). This relatively small increasing trend of JJA NDVI during 1982–2010 compared with that during 1982–99 (0.0012 yr−1) (Piao et al 2003 J. Geophys. Res.—Atmos. 108 4401) implies a change in the JJA vegetation growth trend, which significantly turned from increasing (0.0039 yr−1) to slightly decreasing ( − 0.0002 yr−1) in 1988. Regarding the spatial pattern of changes in NDVI, the growing season NDVI increased (over 0.0020 yr−1) from 1982 to 2010 in southern China, while its change was close to zero in northern China, as a result of a significant changing trend reversal that occurred in the 1990s and early 2000s. In northern China, the growing season NDVI significantly increased before the 1990s as a result of warming and enhanced precipitation, but decreased after the 1990s due to drought stress strengthened by warming and reduced precipitation. Our results also show that the responses of vegetation growth to climate change vary across different seasons and ecosystems.” Shushi Peng et al 2011 Environ. Res. Lett. 6 044027 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/044027. [Full text]

How coral communities survived past rapid warming events?

The evolution of mid Paleocene – early Eocene coral communities: How to survive during rapid global warming – Zamagni et al. (2011)“Today, diverse communities of zooxanthellate corals thrive, but do not build reef, under a wide range of environmental conditions. In these settings they inhabit natural bottom communities, sometimes forming patch-reefs, coral carpets and knobs. Episodes in the fossil record, characterized by limited coral-reef development but widespread occurrence of coral-bearing carbonates, may represent the fossil analogues of these non-reef building, zooxanthellate coral communities. If so, the study of these corals could have valuable implications for paleoenvironmental reconstructions. Here we focus on the evolution of early Paleogene corals as a fossil example of coral communities mainly composed by zooxanthellate corals (or likely zooxanthellate), commonly occurring within carbonate biofacies and with relatively high diversity but with a limited bioconstructional potential as testified by the reduced record of coral reefs. We correlate changes of bioconstructional potential and community compositions of these fossil corals with the main ecological/environmental conditions at that time. The early Paleogene greenhouse climate was characterized by relatively short pulses of warming with the most prominent occurring at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary (PETM event), associated with high weathering rates, nutrient fluxes, and pCO2 levels. A synthesis of coral occurrences integrated with our data from the Adriatic Carbonate Platform (SW Slovenia) and the Minervois region (SW France), provide evidence for temporal changes in the reef-building capacity of corals associated with a shift in community composition towards forms adapted to tolerate deteriorating sea-water conditions. During the middle Paleocene coral-algal patch reefs and barrier reefs occurred from shallow-water settings, locally with reef-crest structures. A first shift can be traced from middle Paleocene to late Paleocene, with small coral-algal patch reefs and coral-bearing mounds development in shallow to intermediate water depths. In these mounds corals were highly subordinated as bioconstructors to other groups tolerant to higher levels of trophic resources (calcareous red algae, encrusting foraminifera, microbes, and sponges). A second shift occurred at the onset of the early Eocene with a further reduction of coral framework-building capacity. These coral communities mainly formed knobs in shallow-water, turbid settings associated with abundant foraminiferal deposits. We suggest that environmental conditions other than high temperature determined a combination of interrelated stressors that limited the coral-reef construction. A continuous enhancement of sediment load/nutrients combined with geochemical changes of ocean waters likely displaced corals as the main bioconstructors during the late Paleocene-early Eocene times. Nonetheless, these conditions did not affect the capacity of some corals to colonize the substrate, maintain biodiversity, and act as locally important carbonate-sediment producers, suggesting broad environmental tolerance limits of various species of corals. The implications of this study include clues as to how both ancient and modern zooxanthellate corals could respond to changing climate.” J. Zamagni, M. Mutti, A. Košir, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2011.12.010.

Increase in the global population living under water-stressed conditions

Modelling global water stress of the recent past: on the relative importance of trends in water demand and climate variability – Wada et al. (2011) “During the past decades, human water use has more than doubled, yet available freshwater resources are finite. As a result, water scarcity has been prevalent in various regions of the world. Here, we present the first global assessment of past development of water stress considering not only climate variability but also growing water demand, desalinated water use and non-renewable groundwater abstraction over the period 1960–2001 at a spatial resolution of 0.5°. Agricultural water demand is estimated based on past extents of irrigated areas and livestock densities. We approximate past economic development based on GDP, energy and household consumption and electricity production, which are subsequently used together with population numbers to estimate industrial and domestic water demand. Climate variability is expressed by simulated blue water availability defined by freshwater in rivers, lakes, wetlands and reservoirs by means of the global hydrological model PCR-GLOBWB. We thus define blue water stress by comparing blue water availability with corresponding net total blue water demand by means of the commonly used, Water Scarcity Index. The results show a drastic increase in the global population living under water-stressed conditions (i.e. moderate to high water stress) due to growing water demand, primarily for irrigation, which has more than doubled from 1708/818 to 3708/1832 km3 yr−1 (gross/net) over the period 1960–2000. We estimate that 800 million people or 27% of the global population were living under water-stressed conditions for 1960. This number is eventually increased to 2.6 billion or 43% for 2000. Our results indicate that increased water demand is a decisive factor for heightened water stress in various regions such as India and North China, enhancing the intensity of water stress up to 200%, while climate variability is often a main determinant of extreme events. However, our results also suggest that in several emerging and developing economies (e.g. India, Turkey, Romania and Cuba) some of past extreme events were anthropogenically driven due to increased water demand rather than being climate-induced.” Wada, Y., van Beek, L. P. H., and Bierkens, M. F. P., Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 3785-3808, doi:10.5194/hess-15-3785-2011, 2011. [Full text]

Many surface albedo geoengineering schemes are useless for global climate change reversal

Climatic effects of surface albedo geoengineering – Irvine et al. (2011) “Various surface albedo modification geoengineering schemes such as those involving desert, urban, or agricultural areas have been proposed as potential strategies for helping counteract the warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions. However, such schemes tend to be inherently limited in their potential and would create a much more heterogeneous radiative forcing than propositions for space-based “reflectors” and enhanced stratospheric aerosol concentrations. Here we present results of a series of atmosphere–ocean general circulation model (GCM) simulations to compare three surface albedo geoengineering proposals: urban, cropland, and desert albedo enhancement. We find that the cooling effect of surface albedo modification is strongly seasonal and mostly confined to the areas of application. For urban and cropland geoengineering, the global effects are minor but, because of being colocated with areas of human activity, they may provide some regional benefits. Global desert geoengineering, which is associated with significant global-scale changes in circulation and the hydrological cycle, causes a smaller reduction in global precipitation per degree of cooling than sunshade geoengineering, 1.1% K−1 and 2.0% K−1 respectively, but a far greater reduction in the precipitation over land, 3.9% K−1 compared with 1.0% K−1. Desert geoengineering also causes large regional-scale changes in precipitation with a large reduction in the intensity of the Indian and African monsoons in particular. None of the schemes studied reverse the climate changes associated with a doubling of CO2, with desert geoengineering profoundly altering the climate and with urban and cropland geoengineering providing only some regional amelioration at most.” Irvine, P. J., A. Ridgwell, and D. J. Lunt (2011), J. Geophys. Res., 116, D24112, doi:10.1029/2011JD016281.

Summer warming expected to permanently show up by 2020 over most areas of the continental United States

Transient regional climate change: Analysis of the summer climate response in a high-resolution, century-scale ensemble experiment over the continental United States – Diffenbaugh et al. (2011) “Integrating the potential for climate change impacts on policy and planning decisions requires quantification of the emergence of subregional climate changes that could occur in response to transient changes in global radiative forcing. Here we report results from a high-resolution, century-scale ensemble simulation of climate in the United States, forced by atmospheric constituent concentrations from the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios A1B scenario. We find that 21st century summer warming permanently emerges beyond the baseline decadal-scale variability prior to 2020 over most areas of the continental United States. Permanent emergence beyond the baseline annual-scale variability shows much greater spatial heterogeneity, with emergence occurring prior to 2030 over areas of the southwestern United States but not prior to the end of the 21st century over much of the south central and southeastern United States. The pattern of emergence of robust summer warming contrasts with the pattern of summer warming magnitude, which is greatest over the central United States and smallest over the western United States. In addition to stronger warming, the central United States also exhibits stronger coupling of changes in surface air temperature, precipitation, and moisture and energy fluxes, along with changes in atmospheric circulation toward increased anticylonic anomalies in the midtroposphere and a poleward shift in the midlatitude jet aloft. However, as a fraction of the baseline variability, the transient warming over the central United States is smaller than the warming over the southwestern or northeastern United States, delaying the emergence of the warming signal over the central United States. Our comparisons with observations and the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 3 ensemble of global climate model experiments suggest that near-term global warming is likely to cause robust subregional-scale warming over areas that exhibit relatively little baseline variability. In contrast, where there is greater variability in the baseline climate dynamics there can be greater variability in the response to elevated greenhouse forcing, decreasing the robustness of the transient warming signal.” Diffenbaugh, N. S., M. Ashfaq, and M. Scherer (2011), J. Geophys. Res., 116, D24111, doi:10.1029/2011JD016458.

New accurate 20 million year reconstruction of atmospheric CO2

Reconstruction of a continuous high-resolution CO2 record over the past 20 million years – van de Wal et al. (2011) “The gradual cooling of the climate during the Cenozoic has generally been attributed to a decrease in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. The lack of transient climate models and, in particular, the lack of high-resolution proxy records of CO2, beyond the ice-core record prohibit, however, a full understanding of, for example, the inception of the Northern Hemisphere glaciation and mid-Pleistocene transition. Here we elaborate on an inverse modelling technique to reconstruct a continuous CO2 series over the past 20 million year (Myr), by decomposing the global deep-sea benthic δ18O record into a mutually consistent temperature and sea level record, using a set of 1-D models of the major Northern and Southern Hemisphere ice sheets. We subsequently compared the modelled temperature record with ice core and proxy-derived CO2 data to create a continuous CO2 reconstruction over the past 20 Myr. Results show a gradual decline from 450 ppmv around 15 Myr ago to 225 ppmv for mean conditions of the glacial-interglacial cycles of the last 1 Myr, coinciding with a gradual cooling of the global surface temperature of 10 K. Between 13 to 3 Myr ago there is no long-term sea level variation caused by ice-volume changes. We find no evidence of change in the long-term relation between temperature change and CO2, other than the effect following the saturation of the absorption bands for CO2. The reconstructed CO2 record shows that the Northern Hemisphere glaciation starts once the long-term average CO2 concentration drops below 265 ppmv after a period of strong decrease in CO2. Finally, only a small long-term decline of 23 ppmv is found during the mid-Pleistocene transition, constraining theories on this major transition in the climate system. The approach is not accurate enough to revise current ideas about climate sensitivity.” van de Wal, R. S. W., de Boer, B., Lourens, L. J., Köhler, P., and Bintanja, R., Clim. Past, 7, 1459-1469, doi:10.5194/cp-7-1459-2011, 2011. [Full text]

Shrubs are invading Arctic tundra

Shrub expansion in tundra ecosystems: dynamics, impacts and research priorities – Myers-Smith et al. (2011) “Recent research using repeat photography, long-term ecological monitoring and dendrochronology has documented shrub expansion in arctic, high-latitude and alpine tundra ecosystems. Here, we (1) synthesize these findings, (2) present a conceptual framework that identifies mechanisms and constraints on shrub increase, (3) explore causes, feedbacks and implications of the increased shrub cover in tundra ecosystems, and (4) address potential lines of investigation for future research. Satellite observations from around the circumpolar Arctic, showing increased productivity, measured as changes in ‘greenness’, have coincided with a general rise in high-latitude air temperatures and have been partly attributed to increases in shrub cover. Studies indicate that warming temperatures, changes in snow cover, altered disturbance regimes as a result of permafrost thaw, tundra fires, and anthropogenic activities or changes in herbivory intensity are all contributing to observed changes in shrub abundance. A large-scale increase in shrub cover will change the structure of tundra ecosystems and alter energy fluxes, regional climate, soil–atmosphere exchange of water, carbon and nutrients, and ecological interactions between species. In order to project future rates of shrub expansion and understand the feedbacks to ecosystem and climate processes, future research should investigate the species or trait-specific responses of shrubs to climate change including: (1) the temperature sensitivity of shrub growth, (2) factors controlling the recruitment of new individuals, and (3) the relative influence of the positive and negative feedbacks involved in shrub expansion.” Isla H Myers-Smith et al 2011 Environ. Res. Lett. 6 045509 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/045509. [Full text]

Growing season has gotten longer for nothern vegetation

Recent changes in phenology over the northern high latitudes detected from multi-satellite data – Zeng et al. (2011) “Phenology of vegetation is a sensitive and valuable indicator of the dynamic responses of terrestrial ecosystems to climate change. Therefore, to better understand and predict ecosystems dynamics, it is important to reduce uncertainties in detecting phenological changes. Here, changes in phenology over the past several decades across the northern high-latitude region (≥60°N) were examined by calibrating and analyzing time series of the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR). Over the past decade (2000–10), an expanded length of the growing season (LOS) was detected by MODIS, largely due to an earlier start of the growing season (SOS) by 4.7 days per decade and a delayed end of the growing season (EOS) by 1.6 days per decade over the northern high latitudes. There were significant differences between North America and Eurasia in phenology from 2000 to 2010 based on MODIS data (SOS: df = 21, F = 49.02, p < 0.0001; EOS: df = 21, F = 49.25, p < 0.0001; LOS: df = 21, F = 79.40, p < 0.0001). In northern America, SOS advanced by 11.5 days per decade, and EOS was delayed by 2.2 days per decade. In Eurasia, SOS advanced by 2.7 days per decade, and EOS was delayed by 3.5 days per decade. SOS has likely advanced due to the warming Arctic during April and May. Our results suggest that in recent decades the longer vegetation growing seasons can be attributed to more advanced SOS rather than delayed EOS. AVHRR detected longer LOS over the past three decades, largely related to delayed EOS rather than advanced SOS. These two datasets are significantly different in key phenological parameters (SOS: df = 17, F = 14.63, p = 0.0015; EOS: df = 17, F = 38.69, p < 0.0001; LOS: df = 17, F = 16.47, p = 0.0009) from 2000 to 2008 over the northern high latitudes. Thus, further inter-calibration between the sensors is needed to resolve the inconsistency and to better understand long-term trends of vegetation growth in the Arctic.” Heqing Zeng et al 2011 Environ. Res. Lett. 6 045508 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/045508. [Full text]

Study on cloud changes with global warming

Computing and Partitioning Cloud Feedbacks using Cloud Property Histograms. Part II: Attribution to Changes in Cloud Amount, Altitude, and Optical Depth – Zelinka et al. (2011) “Cloud radiative kernels and histograms of cloud fraction, both as functions of cloud top pressure and optical depth, are used to quantify cloud amount, altitude, and optical depth feedbacks. The analysis is applied to doubled CO2 simulations from eleven global climate models in the Cloud Feedback Model Intercomparison Project. Global, annual, and ensemble mean longwave (LW) and shortwave (SW) cloud feedbacks are positive, with the latter nearly twice as as large as the former. The robust increase in cloud top altitude is the dominant contributor to the positive LW cloud feedback. The negative impact of reductions in cloud amount offsets more than half of the positive impact of rising clouds on LW cloud feedback, but the magnitude of compensation varies considerably across models. In contrast, robust reductions in cloud amount make a large and virtually unopposed positive contribution to SW cloud feedback, though the inter-model spread is greater than for any other individual feedback component. Overall reductions in cloud amount have twice as large an impact on SW fluxes as on LW fluxes such that the net cloud amount feedback is moderately positive, with no models exhibiting a negative value. As a consequence of large but partially offsetting effects of cloud amount reductions on LW and SW feedbacks, both the mean and inter-model spread in net cloud amount feedback are smaller than those of the net cloud altitude feedback. Finally, we find that the large negative cloud feedback at high latitudes results from robust increases in cloud optical depth, not from increases in total cloud amount as is commonly assumed.” Mark D. Zelinka, Stephen A. Klein, Dennis L. Hartmann, Journal of Climate 2011, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00249.1. [Full text]

Clean coal power comes with side-effects

The climate penalty for clean fossil fuel combustion – Junkermann et al. (2011) “To cope with the world’s growing demand for energy, a large number of coal-fired power plants are currently in operation or under construction. To prevent environmental damage from acidic sulphur and particulate emissions, many such installations are equipped with flue gas cleaning technology that reduces the emitted amounts of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). However, the consequences of this technology for aerosol emissions, and in particular the regional scale impact on cloud microphysics, have not been studied until now. We performed airborne investigations to measure aerosol size distributions in the air masses downwind of coal-fired power installations. We show how the current generation of clean technology reduces the emission of sulphur and fine particulate matter, but leads to an unanticipated increase in the direct emission of ultrafine particles (1–10 nm median diameter) which are highly effective precursors of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). Our analysis shows how these additional ultrafine particles probably modify cloud microphysics, as well as precipitation intensity and distribution on a regional scale downwind of emission sources. Effectively, the number of small water droplets might be increased, thus reducing the water available for large droplets and rain formation. The possible corresponding changes in the precipitation budget with a shift from more frequent steady rain to occasionally more vigorous rain events, or even a significant regional reduction of annual precipitation, introduce an unanticipated risk for regional climate and agricultural production, especially in semi-arid climate zones.” Junkermann, W., Vogel, B., and Sutton, M. A., Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 12917-12924, doi:10.5194/acp-11-12917-2011, 2011. [Full text]

Madden-Julian Oscillation contributes to Arctic amplification

The impact of the Madden-Julian Oscillation trend on the Arctic amplification of surface air temperature during the 1979–2008 boreal winter – Yoo et al. (2011) “One of the most prominent and important features of climate change is that surface air temperature (SAT) change is greatest at high latitudes. The cause for this Arctic amplification of SAT is uncertain. Using ERA-Interim reanalysis data, we show that Arctic amplification during the past 30 years (1979 to 2008) is linked to the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), the primary mode of intraseasonal variability in the tropics. Specifically, it is shown that interdecadal changes in the frequency of occurrence of individual MJO phases have had considerable influence on the Arctic warming during the boreal winter. During that time period, MJO phases 4–6 exhibited a large increase and phases 1–2 a moderate decrease in their frequency of occurrence. Time lagged composites of the SAT show that MJO phases 4–6, which correspond to enhanced localized tropical heating, are followed 1–2 weeks later by Arctic warming. Similarly, MJO phases 1–2, which are associated with more zonally uniform tropical heating, are followed by Arctic cooling. These relationships between the Arctic SAT and the spatial structure of the tropical heating are consistent with the poleward propagation mechanism of Lee et al. (2011a, 2011b). By incorporating both the trend in MJO phase and the intraseasonal SAT anomaly associated with the MJO, it was found that the MJO-induced SAT trend accounts for 10–20% of the observed Arctic amplification over the Arctic Ocean.” Yoo, C., S. Feldstein, and S. Lee (2011), Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L24804, doi:10.1029/2011GL049881.

Millennial-scale climate cycles might have been active throughout geologic time

Millennial-scale climate cycles in Permian–Carboniferous rhythmites: Permanent feature throughout geologic time? – Franco et al. (2011) “Two late Paleozoic glacial rhythmite successions from the Itararé Group (Paraná Basin, Brazil) were examined for paleoclimate variations. Paleomagnetic (characteristic remanent magnetization, ChRM) and magnetic susceptibility (Kz) measurements taken from the rhythmites are interpreted as paleoclimatic proxies. Ratios of low-frequency components in the Kz variations suggest Milankovitch periodicities; this leads to recognition of other, millennial-scale variations reminiscent of abrupt climate changes during late Quaternary time, and are suggestive of Bond cycles and the 2.4 k.y. solar cycle. We infer from these patterns that millennial-scale climate change is not restricted to the Quaternary Period, and that millennial forcing mechanisms may have been prevalent throughout geologic time.” Daniel R. Franco, Linda A. Hinnov and Marcia Ernesto, Geology, v. 40 no. 1 p. 19-22, doi: 10.1130/G32338.1.

El Niño might not have been permanent during Late Cretaceous

El Niño–Southern Oscillation variability from the Late Cretaceous Marca Shale of California – Davies et al. (2011) “Changes in the possible behavior of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) with global warming have provoked interest in records of ENSO from past “greenhouse” climate states. The latest Cretaceous laminated Marca Shale of California permits a seasonal-scale reconstruction of water column flux events and hence interannual paleoclimate variability. The annual flux cycle resembles that of the modern Gulf of California with diatoms characteristic of spring upwelling blooms followed by silt and clay, and is consistent with the existence of a paleo–North American Monsoon that brought input of terrigenous sediment during summer storms and precipitation runoff. Variation is also indicated in the extent of water column oxygenation by differences in lamina preservation. Time series analysis of interannual variability in terrigenous sediment and diatom flux and in the degree of bioturbation indicates strong periodicities in the quasi-biennial (2.1–2.8 yr) and low-frequency (4.1–6.3 yr) bands both characteristic of ENSO forcing, as well as decadal frequencies. This evidence for robust Late Cretaceous ENSO variability does not support the theory of a “permanent El Niño,” in the sense of a continual El Niño–like state, in periods of warmer climate.” Andrew Davies, Alan E.S. Kemp, Graham P. Weedon and John A. Barron, Geology, v. 40 no. 1 p. 15-18, doi: 10.1130/G32329.1.

One Response to “New research from last week 51/2011”

  1. [...] Part 2 of this paper was published earlier. [...]

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