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Observations of anthropogenic global warming

Papers on Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and climate change

Posted by Ari Jokimäki on January 10, 2020

This is a list of papers on Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and climate change. The list is not complete, and will most likely be updated in future in order to make it more thorough and more representative.

Indo-Pacific Climate Modes in Warming Climate: Consensus and Uncertainty Across Model Projections – Zheng (2019)
“Purpose of Review: Understanding the changes in climate variability in a warming climate is crucial for reliable projections of future climate change. This article reviews the recent progress in studies of how climate modes in the Indo-Pacific respond to greenhouse warming, including the consensus and uncertainty across climate models. Recent Findings: Recent studies revealed a range of robust changes in the properties of climate modes, often associated with the mean state changes in the tropical Indo-Pacific. In particular, the intermodel diversity in the ocean warming pattern is a prominent source of uncertainty in mode changes. The internal variability also plays an important role in projected changes in climate modes. Summary: Model biases and intermodel variability remain major challenges for reducing uncertainty in projecting climate mode changes in warming climate. Improved models and research linking simulated present-day climate and future changes are essential for reliable projections of climate mode changes. In addition, large ensembles should be used for each model to reduce the uncertainty from internal variability and isolate the forced response to global warming.”
Zheng, X. Indo-Pacific Climate Modes in Warming Climate: Consensus and Uncertainty Across Model Projections. Curr Clim Change Rep 5, 308–321 (2019) doi:10.1007/s40641-019-00152-9. [FULL TEXT]

Disentangling the Changes in the Indian Ocean Dipole–Related SST and Rainfall Variability under Global Warming in CMIP5 Models – Huang et al. (2019)
“This study disentangles the changes in Indian Ocean (IO) dipole (IOD)-related SST and rainfall variability under global warming projected by the RCP8.5 runs in 29 CMIP5 models. The IOD rainfall changes consist of the thermodynamic component due to the surface moisture increase and the dynamic component due to the changes in IOD-related circulation. The IOD circulation changes are dominated by the IOD SST changes, which were further clarified using the amplitude and structural decomposition. The amplitudes of IOD SST and circulation are both decreased at rates of around 7.2% and 13.7% °C−1, respectively. The structural changes in IOD SST and circulation show a pattern with increases from the eastern to the western coast of the equatorial IO, similar to the pattern of so-called extreme IOD events in previous studies. Disentangling previous mechanisms and projections, we conclude that the increased atmospheric stability suppresses the amplitudes in IOD SST and circulation, whereas the positive IOD (pIOD)-like mean-state SST changes, leading to greater warming in the west than the east, mainly alter the structure of IOD SST and circulation. Both the amplitude and structural changes in the IOD SST and circulation are robust among the CMIP5 models, but their distinct patterns and out-of-step changes lead to an uncertain projection of IOD changes defined by the dipole mode index or EOF analysis in previous studies. Furthermore, the structural changes, dominated by the pIOD-like mean-state SST changes, are significantly correlated with the historical IOD amplitude among the models. Considering the commonly overestimated IOD amplitude as an emergent constraint, the structural changes in IOD SST and circulation should not be as robust as the original multimodel projection.”
Huang, P., X. Zheng, and J. Ying, 2019: Disentangling the Changes in the Indian Ocean Dipole–Related SST and Rainfall Variability under Global Warming in CMIP5 Models. J. Climate, 32, 3803–3818, https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0847.1. [FULL TEXT]

Influence of internal climate variability on Indian Ocean Dipole properties – Ng et al. (2018)
“The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is the dominant mode of interannual variability over the tropical Indian Ocean (IO) and its future changes are projected to impact the climate and weather of Australia, East Africa, and Indonesia. Understanding the response of the IOD to a warmer climate has been largely limited to studies of individual coupled general circulation models or multi-model ensembles. This has provided valuable insight into the IOD’s projected response to increasing greenhouse gases but has limitations in accounting for the role of internal climate variability. Using the Community Earth System Model Large Ensemble (CESM-LE), the IOD is examined in thirty-five present-day and future simulations to determine how internal variability influences properties of the IOD and their response to a warmer climate. Despite small perturbations in the initial conditions as the only difference between ensemble members, significant relationships between the mean state of the IO and the IOD arise, leading to a spread in the projected IOD responses to increasing greenhouse gases. This is driven by the positive Bjerknes feedback, where small differences in mean thermocline depth, which are caused by internal climate variability, generate significant variations in IOD amplitude, skewness, and the climatological zonal sea surface temperature gradient.”
Ng, B., Cai, W., Cowan, T. et al. Influence of internal climate variability on Indian Ocean Dipole properties. Sci Rep 8, 13500 (2018) doi:10.1038/s41598-018-31842-3. [FULL TEXT]

Uncertainty in Indian Ocean Dipole response to global warming: the role of internal variability – Hui & Zheng (2018)
“The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is one of the leading modes of interannual sea surface temperature (SST) variability in the tropical Indian Ocean (TIO). The response of IOD to global warming is quite uncertain in climate model projections. In this study, the uncertainty in IOD change under global warming, especially that resulting from internal variability, is investigated based on the community earth system model large ensemble (CESM-LE). For the IOD amplitude change, the inter-member uncertainty in CESM-LE is about 50% of the intermodel uncertainty in the phase 5 of the coupled model intercomparison project (CMIP5) multimodel ensemble, indicating the important role of internal variability in IOD future projection. In CESM-LE, both the ensemble mean and spread in mean SST warming show a zonal positive IOD-like (pIOD-like) pattern in the TIO. This pIOD-like mean warming regulates ocean-atmospheric feedbacks of the interannual IOD mode, and weakens the skewness of the interannual variability. However, as the changes in oceanic and atmospheric feedbacks counteract each other, the inter-member variability in IOD amplitude change is not correlated with that of the mean state change. Instead, the ensemble spread in IOD amplitude change is correlated with that in ENSO amplitude change in CESM-LE, reflecting the close inter-basin relationship between the tropical Pacific and Indian Ocean in this model.”
Hui, C., Zheng, X. Uncertainty in Indian Ocean Dipole response to global warming: the role of internal variability. Clim Dyn 51, 3597–3611 (2018) doi:10.1007/s00382-018-4098-2.

Assessing the Impact of Model Biases on the Projected Increase in Frequency of Extreme Positive Indian Ocean Dipole Events – Wang et al. (2017)
“For many generations, models simulate an Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) that is overly large in amplitude. The possible impact of this systematic bias on climate projections, including a projected frequency increase in extreme positive IOD (pIOD) using a rainfall-based definition, has attracted attention. In particular, a recent study suggests that the increased frequency is an artifact of the overly large IOD amplitude. In contrast, here the opposite is found. Through intermodel ensemble regressions, the present study shows that models producing a high frequency in the present-day climate generate a small future frequency increase. The frequency is associated with the mean equatorial west-minus-east sea surface temperature (SST) gradient: the greater the gradient, the greater the frequency because it is easier to shift convection to the west, which characterizes an extreme pIOD. A greater present-day gradient is associated with a present-day shallower thermocline, lower SSTs, and lower rainfall in the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean (EEIO). Because there is an inherent limit for a maximum rainfall reduction and for the impact on surface cooling by a shallowing of an already shallow mean EEIO thermocline, there is a smaller increase in frequency in models with a shallower present-day EEIO thermocline. Given that a bias of overly shallow EEIO thermocline and overly low EEIO SSTs and rainfall is common in models, the future frequency increase should be underestimated, opposite to an implied overestimation resulting from the overly large IOD amplitude bias. Therefore, correcting the projected frequency from a single bias, without considering other biases that are present, is not appropriate and should be avoided.”
Wang, G., W. Cai, and A. Santoso, 2017: Assessing the Impact of Model Biases on the Projected Increase in Frequency of Extreme Positive Indian Ocean Dipole Events. J. Climate, 30, 2757–2767, https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0509.1. [FULL TEXT]

A Robust but Spurious Pattern of Climate Change in Model Projections over the Tropical Indian Ocean – Li et al. (2016)
“Climate models consistently project reduced surface warming over the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean (IO) under increased greenhouse gas (GHG) forcing. This IO dipole (IOD)-like warming pattern, regarded as robust based on consistency among models by the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, results in a large increase in the frequency of extreme positive IOD (pIOD) events, elevating the risk of climate and weather disasters in the future over IO rim countries. These projections, however, do not consider large model biases in both the mean state and interannual IOD variance. In particular, a “present–future relationship” is identified between the historical simulations and representative concentration pathway (RCP) 8.5 experiments from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) multimodel ensemble: models with an excessive IOD amplitude bias tend to project a strong IOD-like warming pattern in the mean and a large increase in extreme pIOD occurrences under increased GHG forcing. This relationship links the present simulation errors to future climate projections, and is also consistent with our understanding of Bjerknes ocean–atmosphere feedback. This study calibrates regional climate projections by using this present–future relationship and observed IOD amplitude. The results show that the projected IOD-like pattern of mean changes and frequency increase of extreme pIOD events are largely artifacts of model errors and unlikely to emerge in the future. These results illustrate that a robust projection may still be biased and it is important to consider the model bias effect.”
Li, G., S. Xie, and Y. Du, 2016: A Robust but Spurious Pattern of Climate Change in Model Projections over the Tropical Indian Ocean. J. Climate, 29, 5589–5608, https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0565.1. [FULL TEXT]

Monsoon-Induced Biases of Climate Models over the Tropical Indian Ocean – Li et al. (2015)
“Long-standing biases of climate models limit the skills of climate prediction and projection. Overlooked are tropical Indian Ocean (IO) errors. Based on the phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) multimodel ensemble, the present study identifies a common error pattern in climate models that resembles the IO dipole (IOD) mode of interannual variability in nature, with a strong equatorial easterly wind bias during boreal autumn accompanied by physically consistent biases in precipitation, sea surface temperature (SST), and subsurface ocean temperature. The analyses show that such IOD-like biases can be traced back to errors in the South Asian summer monsoon. A southwest summer monsoon that is too weak over the Arabian Sea generates a warm SST bias over the western equatorial IO. In boreal autumn, Bjerknes feedback helps amplify the error into an IOD-like bias pattern in wind, precipitation, SST, and subsurface ocean temperature. Such mean state biases result in an interannual IOD variability that is too strong. Most models project an IOD-like future change for the boreal autumn mean state in the global warming scenario, which would result in more frequent occurrences of extreme positive IOD events in the future with important consequences to Indonesia and East Africa. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) characterizes this future IOD-like projection in the mean state as robust based on consistency among models, but the authors’ results cast doubts on this conclusion since models with larger IOD amplitude biases tend to produce stronger IOD-like projected changes in the future.”
Li, G., S. Xie, and Y. Du, 2015: Monsoon-Induced Biases of Climate Models over the Tropical Indian Ocean. J. Climate, 28, 3058–3072, https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00740.1. [FULL TEXT]

Increased frequency of extreme Indian Ocean Dipole events due to greenhouse warming – Cai et al. (2014)
“The Indian Ocean dipole is a prominent mode of coupled ocean–atmosphere variability, affecting the lives of millions of people in Indian Ocean rim countries. In its positive phase, sea surface temperatures are lower than normal off the Sumatra–Java coast, but higher in the western tropical Indian Ocean. During the extreme positive-IOD (pIOD) events of 1961, 1994 and 1997, the eastern cooling strengthened and extended westward along the equatorial Indian Ocean through strong reversal of both the mean westerly winds and the associated eastward-flowing upper ocean currents. This created anomalously dry conditions from the eastern to the central Indian Ocean along the Equator and atmospheric convergence farther west, leading to catastrophic floods in eastern tropical African countries but devastating droughts in eastern Indian Ocean rim countries. Despite these serious consequences, the response of pIOD events to greenhouse warming is unknown. Here, using an ensemble of climate models forced by a scenario of high greenhouse gas emissions (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5), we project that the frequency of extreme pIOD events will increase by almost a factor of three, from one event every 17.3 years over the twentieth century to one event every 6.3 years over the twenty-first century. We find that a mean state change—with weakening of both equatorial westerly winds and eastward oceanic currents in association with a faster warming in the western than the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean—facilitates more frequent occurrences of wind and oceanic current reversal. This leads to more frequent extreme pIOD events, suggesting an increasing frequency of extreme climate and weather events in regions affected by the pIOD.”
Wenju Cai, Agus Santoso, Guojian Wang, Evan Weller, Lixin Wu, Karumuri Ashok, Yukio Masumoto & Toshio Yamagata (2014). Nature volume 510:254–258. doi:10.1038/nature13327. [FULL TEXT]

Projected response of the Indian Ocean Dipole to greenhouse warming – Cai et al. (2013)
“Natural modes of variability centred in the tropics, such as the El Niño/Southern Oscillation and the Indian Ocean Dipole, are a significant source of interannual climate variability across the globe. Future climate warming could alter these modes of variability. For example, with the warming projected for the end of the twenty-first century, the mean climate of the tropical Indian Ocean is expected to change considerably. These changes have the potential to affect the Indian Ocean Dipole, currently characterized by an alternation of anomalous cooling in the eastern tropical Indian Ocean and warming in the west in a positive dipole event, and the reverse pattern for negative events. The amplitude of positive events is generally greater than that of negative events. Mean climate warming in austral spring is expected to lead to stronger easterly winds just south of the Equator, faster warming of sea surface temperatures in the western Indian Ocean compared with the eastern basin, and a shoaling equatorial thermocline. The mean climate conditions that result from these changes more closely resemble a positive dipole state. However, defined relative to the mean state at any given time, the overall frequency of events is not projected to change — but we expect a reduction in the difference in amplitude between positive and negative dipole events.”
Cai, W., Zheng, X., Weller, E. et al. Projected response of the Indian Ocean Dipole to greenhouse warming. Nature Geosci 6, 999–1007 (2013) doi:10.1038/ngeo2009. [FULL TEXT]

Indian Ocean Dipole Response to Global Warming in the CMIP5 Multimodel Ensemble – Zheng et al. (2013)
“The response of the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) mode to global warming is investigated based on simulations from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). In response to increased greenhouse gases, an IOD-like warming pattern appears in the equatorial Indian Ocean, with reduced (enhanced) warming in the east (west), an easterly wind trend, and thermocline shoaling in the east. Despite a shoaling thermocline and strengthened thermocline feedback in the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean, the interannual variance of the IOD mode remains largely unchanged in sea surface temperature (SST) as atmospheric feedback and zonal wind variance weaken under global warming. The negative skewness in eastern Indian Ocean SST is reduced as a result of the shoaling thermocline. The change in interannual IOD variance exhibits some variability among models, and this intermodel variability is correlated with the change in thermocline feedback. The results herein illustrate that mean state changes modulate interannual modes, and suggest that recent changes in the IOD mode are likely due to natural variations.”
Zheng, X., S. Xie, Y. Du, L. Liu, G. Huang, and Q. Liu, 2013: Indian Ocean Dipole Response to Global Warming in the CMIP5 Multimodel Ensemble. J. Climate, 26, 6067–6080, https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00638.1. [FULL TEXT]

Indian Ocean Dipole Response to Global Warming: Analysis of Ocean–Atmospheric Feedbacks in a Coupled Model – Zheng et al. (2010)
“Low-frequency modulation and change under global warming of the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) mode are investigated with a pair of multicentury integrations of a coupled ocean–atmosphere general circulation model: one under constant climate forcing and one forced by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. In the unforced simulation, there is significant decadal and multidecadal modulation of the IOD variance. The mean thermocline depth in the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean (EEIO) is important for the slow modulation, skewness, and ENSO correlation of the IOD. With a shoaling (deepening) of the EEIO thermocline, the thermocline feedback strengthens, and this leads to an increase in IOD variance, a reduction of the negative skewness of the IOD, and a weakening of the IOD–ENSO correlation. In response to increasing greenhouse gases, a weakening of the Walker circulation leads to easterly wind anomalies in the equatorial Indian Ocean; the oceanic response to weakened circulation is a thermocline shoaling in the EEIO. Under greenhouse forcing, the thermocline feedback intensifies, but surprisingly IOD variance does not. The zonal wind anomalies associated with IOD are found to weaken, likely due to increased static stability of the troposphere from global warming. Linear model experiments confirm this stability effect to reduce circulation response to a sea surface temperature dipole. The opposing changes in thermocline and atmospheric feedbacks result in little change in IOD variance, but the shoaling thermocline weakens IOD skewness. Little change under global warming in IOD variance in the model suggests that the apparent intensification of IOD activity during recent decades is likely part of natural, chaotic modulation of the ocean–atmosphere system or the response to nongreenhouse gas radiative changes.”
Zheng, X., S. Xie, G.A. Vecchi, Q. Liu, and J. Hafner, 2010: Indian Ocean Dipole Response to Global Warming: Analysis of Ocean–Atmospheric Feedbacks in a Coupled Model. J. Climate, 23, 1240–1253, https://doi.org/10.1175/2009JCLI3326.1. [FULL TEXT]

Recent unprecedented skewness towards positive Indian Ocean Dipole occurrences and its impact on Australian rainfall – Cai et al. (2009)
“Is the recent high frequency of positive Indian Ocean Dipole (pIOD) events a consequence of global warming? Using available observations and reanalyses, we show that the pIOD occurrences increase from about four per 30 years early in the 20th century to about 10 over the last 30 years; by contrast, the number of negative Indian Ocean Dipole (nIOD) events decreases from about 10 to two over the same periods, respectively. A skewness measure, defined as the difference in occurrences of pIODs and nIODs, illustrates a systematic trend in this parameter commencing early in the 20th century. After 1950, there are more pIODs than nIODs, with consistent mean circulation changes in the pIOD‐prevalent seasons. Over southeastern Australia (SEA), these changes potentially account for much of the observed austral winter and spring rainfall reduction since 1950. These features are consistent with projected future climate change and hence with what is expected from global warming.”
Cai, W., Cowan, T., and Sullivan, A. ( 2009), Recent unprecedented skewness towards positive Indian Ocean Dipole occurrences and its impact on Australian rainfall, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L11705, doi:10.1029/2009GL037604. [FULL TEXT]

Climate change contributes to more frequent consecutive positive Indian Ocean Dipole events – Cai et al. (2009)
“Are the 2006–2008 three‐consecutive positive Indian Ocean Dipole (pIOD) events linked to climate change? Using 20th century experiments submitted for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), we show that a 19‐model average IOD index over the 1950–1999 period yields an upward trend. The associated circulation trends provide a favourable environment for pIOD development, leading to a 17% increase in pIOD frequency compared with the case in which trends are removed. The majority of the increase manifests as a frequency increase in the two‐ and three‐consecutive events. The circulation trends are in turn consistent with wind changes associated with a weaker Walker circulation in the Pacific and an enhanced land‐sea temperature contrast in the Indian Ocean (IO) sector. Our results suggest that although it is difficult to attribute the trigger of the recent consecutive pIODs, climate change is increasing the occurrences of such events.”
Cai, W., Sullivan, A., and Cowan, T. ( 2009), Climate change contributes to more frequent consecutive positive Indian Ocean Dipole events, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L23704, doi:10.1029/2009GL040163. [FULL TEXT]

Recent intensification of tropical climate variability in the Indian Ocean – Abram et al. (2008)
“The interplay of the El Niño Southern Oscillation, Asian monsoon and Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) drives climatic extremes in and around the Indian Ocean. Historical and proxy records reveal changes in the behaviour of the El Niño Southern Oscillation and the Asian monsoon over recent decades. However, reliable instrumental records of the IOD cover only the past 50 years, and there is no consensus on long-term variability of the IOD or its possible response to greenhouse gas forcing. Here we use a suite of coral oxygen-isotope records to reconstruct a basin-wide index of IOD behaviour since AD 1846. Our record reveals an increase in the frequency and strength of IOD events during the twentieth century, which is associated with enhanced seasonal upwelling in the eastern Indian Ocean. Although the El Niño Southern Oscillation has historically influenced the variability of both the IOD and the Asian monsoon, we find that the recent intensification of the IOD coincides with the development of direct, positive IOD–monsoon feedbacks. We suggest that projected greenhouse warming may lead to a redistribution of rainfall across the Indian Ocean and a growing interdependence between the IOD and Asian monsoon precipitation variability.”
Abram, N., Gagan, M., Cole, J. et al. Recent intensification of tropical climate variability in the Indian Ocean. Nature Geosci 1, 849–853 (2008) doi:10.1038/ngeo357. [FULL TEXT]

GCM simulations of the Indian Ocean dipole influence on East African rainfall: Present and future – Conway et al. (2007)
“Six coupled GCMs are assessed in terms of their ability to simulate observed characteristics of East African rainfall, the Indian Ocean dipole and their temporal correlation. Model results are then used to analyze the future behaviour of rainfall and the DMI. All models simulate reasonably well the spatial distribution and variability of annual and seasonal rainfall over the 1961–1990 period. Model simulation of observed DMI characteristics is less consistent with observations, however, five models reproduce similar correlations to those observed between the DMI and East African short rains (SON). In the future, there are no clear inter‐model patterns of rainfall or DMI behaviour. In this sample of models four (two) out of six simulate modest increases (decreases) in annual rainfall by the 2080s. For SON, three of the six models indicate a trend towards increasingly positive phase of the DMI, two indicate a decrease and one shows no substantial change.”
Conway, D., Hanson, C. E., Doherty, R., and Persechino, A. ( 2007), GCM simulations of the Indian Ocean dipole influence on East African rainfall: Present and future, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L03705, doi:10.1029/2006GL027597. [FULL TEXT]

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