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Vertical structure of anthropogenic zonal-mean atmospheric circulation change

By T. J. Woollings

Abstract

The atmospheric circulation changes predicted by climate models are often described using sea level pressure, which generally shows a strengthening of the mid-latitude westerlies. Recent observed variability is dominated by the Northern Annular Mode (NAM) which is equivalent barotropic, so that wind variations of the same sign are seen at all levels. However, in model predictions of the response to anthropogenic forcing, there is a well-known enhanced warming at low levels over the northern polar cap in winter. This means that there is a strong baroclinic component to the response. The projection of the response onto a NAM-like zonal index varies with height. While at the surface most models project positively onto the zonal index, throughout most of the depth of the troposphere many of the models give negative projections. The response to anthropogenic forcing therefore has a distinctive baroclinic signature which is very different to the NA

Topics: 551
Publisher: American Geophysical Union
Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:centaur.reading.ac.uk:1193

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