The contrasting climate response to tropical and extratropical energy perturbations
© The Author(s) 2018. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
The link between cross-equatorial energy transport, the double-intertropical convergence zone (DI) problem and biases in tropical and extratropical albedo and energy budgets in climate models have been investigated in multiple studies, though DI biases persist in many models. Here, a coupled climate model, HadGEM2-ES, is used to investigate the response to idealised energy perturbations in the tropics and extratropics, in both the northern and southern hemispheres, through the imposition of stratospheric aerosols that reflect incoming radiation. The impact on the tropical climate of high and low latitude forcing strongly contrasts, with large changes in tropical precipitation and modulation of the DI bias when the tropics are cooled as precipitation moves away from the cooled hemisphere. These responses are muted when the extratropics are cooled, as the meridional energy transport anomalies that are excited by these energy budget anomalies are partitioned between the atmosphere and ocean. The results here highlight the persistence of the DI bias in HadGEM2-ES, indicating why little progress has been made in rectifying these problems through many generations of climate models. A highly linear relationship between cross-equatorial atmospheric energy transport, tropical precipitation asymmetry and tropical sea surface temperature biases is also demonstrated, giving some suggestion as to where improvements in these large scale, persistent biases may be achieved.
MKH, MC and JMH were supported by the Natural Environment Research Council/Department for International Development via the Future Climates for Africa (FCFA) funded project ’Improving Model Processes for African Climate’ (IMPALA, NE/M017265/1). JMH and AJ were supported by the Joint UK BEIS/Defra Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme (GA01101).
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Published online 22 January 2018