School of Earth Sciences - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 357
Surface-circulation change in the Southern Ocean across the Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum: inferences from dinoflagellate cysts and biomarker paleothermometry
(Copernicus Publications, 2020-09-01)
Global climate cooled from the early Eocene hothouse (~ 52–50 Ma) to the latest Eocene (~ 34 Ma). At the same time, the tectonic evolution of the Southern Ocean was characterized by the opening and deepening of circum-Antarctic gateways, which affected both surface- and deep-ocean circulation. The Tasman Gateway played a key role in regulating ocean throughflow between Australia and Antarctica. Southern Ocean surface currents through and around the Tasman Gateway have left recognizable tracers in the spatiotemporal distribution of plankton fossils, including organic-walled dinoflagellate cysts. This spatiotemporal distribution depends on physico-chemical properties of the water masses in which these organisms thrived. The degree to which the geographic path of surface currents (primarily controlled by tectonism) or their physico-chemical properties (significantly impacted by climate) have controlled the composition of the fossil assemblages has, however, remained unclear. In fact, it is yet poorly understood to what extent oceanographic response as a whole was dictated by climate change, independent of tectonics-induced oceanographic changes that operate on longer time scales. To disentangle the effects of tectonism and climate in the southwest Pacific Ocean, we target a climatic deviation from the long-term Eocene cooling trend, a 500 thousand year long global warming phase termed the Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum (MECO; ~ 40 Ma). The MECO warming is unrelated to regional tectonism, and thus provides a test case to investigate the oceans physiochemical response to climate change only. We reconstruct changes in surface-water circulation and temperature in and around the Tasman Gateway during the MECO through new palynological and organic geochemical records from the central Tasman Gateway (Ocean Drilling Program Site 1170), the Otway Basin (southeastern Australia) and the Hampden Section (New Zealand). Our results confirm that dinocyst communities track tectonically driven circulation patterns, yet the variability within these communities can be driven by superimposed temperature change. Together with published results from the east of the Tasman Gateway, our results suggest that as surface-ocean temperatures rose, the East Australian Current extended further southward during the peak of MECO warmth. Simultaneous with high sea-surface temperatures in the Tasman Gateway area, pollen assemblages indicate warm temperate rainforests with paratropical elements along the southeastern margin of Australia. Finally, based on new age constraints we suggest that a regional southeast Australian transgression might have been caused by sea-level rise during MECO. </jats:p>
Global and regional impacts differ between transient and equilibrium warmer worlds
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2020-01-01)
under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited. There has recently been interest in understanding the differences between specific levels of global warming, especially the Paris Agreement limits of 1.5 °C and 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. However, different model experiments1–3 have been used in these analyses under varying rates of increase in global-average temperature. Here, we use climate model simulations to show that, for a given global temperature, most land is significantly warmer in a rapidly warming (transient) case than in a quasi-equilibrium climate. This results in more than 90% of the world’s population experiencing a warmer local climate under transient global warming than equilibrium global warming. Relative to differences between the 1.5 °C and 2 °C global warming limits, the differences between transient and quasi-equilibrium states are substantial. For many land regions, the probability of very warm seasons is at least two times greater in a transient climate than in a quasi-equilibrium equivalent. In developing regions, there are sizable differences between transient and quasi-equilibrium climates that underline the importance of explicitly framing projections. Our study highlights the need to better understand differences between future climates under rapid warming and quasi-equilibrium conditions for the development of climate change adaptation policies. Yet, current multi-model experiments1,4 are not designed for this purpose.
Greater probability of extreme precipitation under 1.5 °C and 2 °C warming limits over East-Central Asia
(Springer (part of Springer Nature), 2020-05-27)
East-Central Asia is one of the most vulnerable and sensitive regions to climate change, and the variability of extreme precipitation attracts great attention due to the large population and the importance of its economy. Here, three special runs with the Community Earth System Model (CESM) are used to project the changes in representative extreme precipitation indices (Rx1day, Rx5day, R95p, SDII) over East-Central Asia under the 1.5 °C and 2 °C Paris Agreement limits. The results indicate that Rx1day and Rx5day will increase by 28% and 15%, respectively, under the 1.5 °C warming level relative to the historical period (1971–2000). Most areas over East-Central Asia are projected to experience an accelerated increase in response to a further 0.5 °C warming. Specifically, humid areas (HAs) are projected to experience a greater increase in R95p annual days and area fraction, whereas arid and semiarid areas (ASAs) may have threefold higher risks. The proportion of extreme precipitation in total will increase ~10% in most HAs in response to the 0.5 °C additional warming. Holding global warming at 1.5 °C instead of 2 °C reduces the occurrence of R95p annual days by ~3 days/year in humid areas and ~1 day/year in ASAs. For SDII, most HAs will experience 0.2–0.6 mm/day and 0.2–0.4 mm/day increases in 1.5 °C or 2 °C warming limits, especially in Southeast China and the Himalayas. Therefore, limiting global warming to under 1.5 °C is beneficial to reducing the occurrence and associated impact of precipitation extremes in East-Central Asia.
The role of climate variability in Australian drought
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2020-02-24)
The Poisson regression model remains an important tool in the econometric analysis of count data. In a pioneering contribution to the econometric analysis of such models, Lung-Fei Lee presented a specification test for a Poisson model against a broad class of discrete distributions sometimes called the Katz family. Two members of this alternative class are the binomial and negative binomial distributions, which are commonly used with count data to allow for under-and over-dispersion, respectively. In this paper we explore the structure of other distributions within the class and their suitability as alternatives to the Poisson model. Potential difficulties with the Katz likelihood leads us to investigate a class of point optimal tests of the Poisson assumption against the alternative of over-dispersion in both the regression and intercept only cases. In a simulation study, we compare score tests of ‘Poisson-ness’ with various point optimal tests, based on the Katz family, and conclude that it is possible to choose a point optimal test which is better in the intercept only case, although the nuisance parameters arising in the regression case are problematic. One possible cause is poor choice of the point at which to optimize. Consequently, we explore the use of Hellinger distance to aid this choice. Ultimately we conclude that score tests remain the most practical approach to testing for over-dispersion in this context.
Locally forced convection in sub‐kilometre scale simulations with the Unified Model and WRF
This study evaluates the performance and benefits of kilometre and sub‐kilometre scale convection permitting simulations over tropical Australia. Focusing on an extended Monsoon break period we can directly compare Unified Model (UM) and Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) simulations to CPOL radar observations and soundings. We show that the two models have different behaviour, and both are different to observations. Whereas WRF produces daily squall lines whether or not they occurred in observations, the UM primarily generates small but intense storms. The UM and WRF produce qualitatively different surface density currents at different times in the diurnal cycle. Once the density currents are present, the models also show different behaviour in relation to convective initiation. While higher resolution helps in the distribution of total precipitation over the domain, most characteristics do not change with higher resolutions, and model difference are always larger than resolution differences. While CAPE/CIN does not seem to be important to explain model differences, our findings point to the evolution of density currents in the boundary layer as most important source of model errors and differences.
Shear-Parallel Tropical Convective Systems: Importance of Cold Pools and Wind Shear
(American Geophysical Union, 2020-06-28)
The impact of cold pools on line-orientated convective systems is assessed using idealized simulations of tropical oceanic convection under weak, moderate, and strong wind shear regimes. Cold pools are weakened by suppressing evaporation in the shallow subcloud layer. Analysis of objectively identified convective systems reveals that the convection with weaker cold pools is more often oriented parallel, rather than perpendicular, to the wind shear. The cold pool-induced orientation changes are most pronounced in the strong shear environment. Interactions between convective orientation and the tropical atmosphere are assessed. Simulations with shear-parallel convection demonstrate more top-of-atmosphere upwelling longwave radiation and less reflected shortwave radiation due to changes in convective anvils, faster-propagating larger-scale gravity waves, narrower cross-shear moisture distributions, and differences in convective momentum fluxes. The results highlight critical interactions across convective scales, mesoscales, and climate scales, as well as avenues for parameterizing structural modes of mesoscale-organized convection in global models.
Challenges of Increased Resolution for the Local Ensemble Tangent Linear Model
(American Meteorological Society, 2020-06-01)
An ensemble-based linearized forecast model has been developed for data assimilation applications for numerical weather prediction. Previous studies applied this local ensemble tangent linear model (LETLM) to various models, from simple one-dimensional models to a low-resolution (~2.5°) version of the Navy Global Environmental Model (NAVGEM) atmospheric forecast model. This paper applies the LETLM to NAVGEM at higher resolution (~1°), which required overcoming challenges including 1) balancing the computational stencil size with the ensemble size, and 2) propagating fast-moving gravity modes in the upper atmosphere. The first challenge is addressed by introducing a modified local influence volume, introducing computations on a thin grid, and using smaller time steps. The second challenge is addressed by applying nonlinear normal mode initialization, which damps spurious fast-moving modes and improves the LETLM errors above ~100 hPa. Compared to a semi-Lagrangian tangent linear model (TLM), the LETLM has superior skill in the lower troposphere (below 700 hPa), which is attributed to better representation of moist physics in the LETLM. The LETLM skill slightly lags in the upper troposphere and stratosphere (700–2 hPa), which is attributed to nonlocal aspects of the TLM including spectral operators converting from winds to vorticity and divergence. Several ways forward are suggested, including integrating the LETLM in a hybrid 4D variational solver for a realistic atmosphere, combining a physics LETLM with a conventional TLM for the dynamics, and separating the LETLM into a sequence of local and nonlocal operators.
Observed Emergence of the Climate Change Signal: From the Familiar to the Unknown
(AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION, 2020-03-28)
Changes in climate are usually considered in terms of trends or differences over time. However, for many impacts requiring adaptation, it is the amplitude of the change relative to the local amplitude of climate variability which is more relevant. Here, we develop the concept of “signal-to-noise” in observations of local temperature, highlighting that many regions are already experiencing a climate which would be “unknown” by late 19th century standards. The emergence of observed temperature changes over both land and ocean is clearest in tropical regions, in contrast to the regions of largest change which are in the northern extratropics—broadly consistent with climate model simulations. Significant increases and decreases in rainfall have also already emerged in different regions with the United Kingdom experiencing a shift toward more extreme rainfall events, a signal which is emerging more clearly in some places than the changes in mean rainfall.
Determining the Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gas Contribution to the Observed Intensification of Extreme Precipitation
(American Geophysical Union, 2020-06-28)
This study conducts a detection and attribution analysis of the observed changes in extreme precipitation during 1951–2015. Observed and CMIP6 multimodel simulated changes in annual maximum daily and consecutive 5-day precipitation are compared using an optimal fingerprinting technique for different spatial scales from global land, Northern Hemisphere extratropics, tropics, three continental regions (North America and western and eastern Eurasia), and global “dry” and “wet” land areas (as defined by their average extreme precipitation intensities). Results indicate that anthropogenic greenhouse gas influence is robustly detected in the observed intensification of extreme precipitation over the global land and most of the subregions considered, all with clear separation from natural and anthropogenic aerosol forcings. Also, the human-induced greenhouse gas increases are found to be a dominant contributor to the observed increase in extreme precipitation intensity, which largely follows the increased moisture availability under global warming.
Evidence of a diurnal cycle in precipitation over the Southern Ocean as observed at Macquarie Island
Due to a lack of observations, relatively large discrepancies exist between precipitation products over the Southern Ocean. In this manuscript, surface hourly precipitation observations from Macquarie Island (54.62° S, 158.85° E) are analysed (1998-2016) to reveal a diurnal cycle. The precipitation rate is at a maximum during night/early morning and a minimum in the afternoon at Macquarie Island station. Seasonally, the diurnal cycle is strongest in summer and negligible over winter. Such a cycle is consistent with precipitation arising from marine boundary layer clouds, suggesting that such clouds are making a substantial contribution to total precipitation over Macquarie Island and the Southern Ocean. Using twice daily upper air soundings (1995-2011), lower troposphere stability parameters show a stronger inversion at night, again consistent with precipitation arising from marine boundary layer clouds. The ERA-Interim precipitation is dominated by a 12 hourly cycle, year around, which is likely to be a consequence of the twice-daily initialisation. The implication of a diurnal cycle in boundary layer clouds over the Southern Ocean to derived A-Train satellite precipitation products is also discussed.
Causal knowledge promotes behavioral self-regulation: An example using climate change dynamics
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2017-09-07)
Adopting successful climate change mitigation policies requires the public to choose how to balance the sometimes competing goals of managing CO2 emissions and achieving economic growth. It follows that collective action on climate change depends on members of the public to be knowledgeable of the causes and economic ramifications of climate change. The existing literature, however, shows that people often struggle to correctly reason about the fundamental accumulation dynamics that drive climate change. Previous research has focused on using analogy to improve people's reasoning about accumulation, which has been met with some success. However, these existing studies have neglected the role economic factors might play in shaping people's decisions in relation to climate change. Here, we introduce a novel iterated decision task in which people attempt to achieve a specific economic goal by interacting with a causal dynamic system in which human economic activities, CO2 emissions, and warming are all causally interrelated. We show that when the causal links between these factors are highlighted, people's ability to achieve the economic goal of the task is enhanced in a way that approaches optimal responding, and avoids dangerous levels of warming.
Hydrological changes during the Roman Climatic Optimum in northern Tuscany (Central Italy) as evidenced by speleothem records and archaeological data
Study of the climate in the Mediterranean basin during different historical periods has taken on a particular importance, particularly regarding its role (together with other factors) in the evolution of human settlement patterns. Although the Roman age is traditionally considered a period with a favourable climate, recent studies have revealed considerable complexity in terms of regional climate variations. In this paper, we compare the hydrological change from speleothem proxy records with flood reconstructions from archaeological sites for Northern Tuscany (central Italy). We identify a period of oscillating climatic conditions culminating in a multidecadal dry event during the 1st century BC, followed by a century of increased precipitation at the beginning of the Roman Empire and subsequently a return to drier conditions in the 2nd century AD. The period of rainfall increase documented by the speleothems agrees with both the archaeological flood record as well as historical flood data available for the Tiber River, ca. 300 km to the south. These data also suggest a return to wetter conditions following the 3nd and 4rd centuries AD.