[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Possible changes in Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) provide a key source of uncertainty regarding future climate change. Maps of temperature trends over the twentieth century show a conspicuous region of cooling in the northern Atlantic. Here we present multiple lines of evidence suggesting that this cooling may be due to a reduction in the AMOC over the twentieth century and particularly after 1970. Since 1990 the AMOC seems to have partly recovered. This time evolution is consistently suggested by an AMOC index based on sea surface temperatures, by the hemispheric temperature difference, by coral-based proxies and by oceanic measurements. We discuss a possible contribution of the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet to the slowdown. Using a multi-proxy temperature reconstruction for the AMOC index suggests that the AMOC weakness after 1975 is an unprecedented event in the past millennium (p > 0.99). Further melting of Greenland in the coming decades could contribute to further weakening of the AMOC.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The recent decade has seen an exceptional number of high-impact summer extremes in the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes. Many of these events were associated with anomalous jet stream circulation patterns characterized by persistent high-amplitude quasi-stationary Rossby waves. Two mechanisms have recently been proposed that could provoke such patterns: (i) a weakening of the zonal mean jets and (ii) an amplification of quasi-stationary waves by resonance between free and forced waves in midlatitude waveguides. Based upon spectral analysis of the midtroposphere wind field, we show that the persistent jet stream patterns were, in the first place, due to an amplification of quasi-stationary waves with zonal wave numbers 6-8. However, we also detect a weakening of the zonal mean jet during these events; thus both mechanisms appear to be important. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the anomalous circulation regimes lead to persistent surface weather conditions and therefore to midlatitude synchronization of extreme heat and rainfall events on monthly timescales. The recent cluster of resonance events has resulted in a statistically significant increase in the frequency of high-amplitude quasi-stationary waves of wave numbers 7 and 8 in July and August. We show that this is a robust finding that holds for different pressure levels and reanalysis products. We argue that recent rapid warming in the Arctic and associated changes in the zonal mean zonal wind have created favorable conditions for double jet formation in the extratropics, which promotes the development of resonant flow regimes.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2014; 111(34). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1412797111 · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Eurasian Arctic contains some of the largest rivers on Earth. Our synthesis of river monitoring data reveals that the average annual discharge of freshwater from the six largest Eurasian rivers (Yenisey, Lena, Ob', Kolyma, Pechora, S. Dvina) to the Arctic Ocean increased about 7% from 1936 through 1999. Correspondence between discharge from these Eurasian arctic rivers and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) suggests that variations in discharge are coupled to hemispheric climate patterns. Increases in discharge also correspond to increases in global, pan-Arctic, and Eurasian arctic temperatures. If the increasing river discharge is a response to global warming, the quantity of extra water delivered to the Arctic Ocean within the next century could approach that predicted by climate models to significantly impact the Atlantic thermohaline circulation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Large uncertainty surrounds projections of global sea-level rise, resulting from uncertainty about future warming and an incomplete understanding of the complex processes and feedback mechanisms that cause sea level to rise. Consequently, existing models produce widely differing predictions of sea-level rise even for the same temperature scenario. Here we present results of a broad survey of 90 experts who were amongst the most active scientific publishers on the topic of sea level in recent years. They provided a probabilistic assessment of sea-level rise by AD 2100 and AD 2300 under two contrasting temperature scenarios. For the low scenario, which limits warming to <2 °C above pre-industrial temperature and has slowly falling temperature after AD 2050, the median ‘likely’ range provided by the experts is 0.4–0.6 m by AD 2100 and 0.6–1.0 m by AD 2300, suggesting a good chance to limit future sea-level rise to <1.0 m if climate mitigation measures are successfully implemented. In contrast, for the high warming scenario (4.5 °C by AD 2100 and 8 °C in AD 2300) the median likely ranges are 0.7–1.2 m by AD 2100 and 2.0–3.0 m by AD 2300, calling into question the future survival of some coastal cities and low-lying island nations.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: With 80 % of world trade carried by sea, seaports provide crucial linkages in global supply-chains and are essential for the ability of all countries to access global markets. Seaports are likely to be affected directly and indirectly by climatic changes, with broader implications for international trade and development. Due to their coastal location, seaports are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events associated with increasing sea levels and tropical storm activity, as illustrated by hurricane “Sandy”. In view of their strategic role as part of the globalized trading system, adapting ports in different parts of the world to the impacts of climate change is of considerable importance. Reflecting the views of a diverse group of stakeholders with expertise in climate science, engineering, economics, policy, and port management, this essay highlights the climate change challenge for ports and suggests a way forward through the adoption of some initial measures. These include both “soft” and “hard” adaptations that may be spearheaded by individual port entities, but will require collaboration and support from a broad range of public and private sector stakeholders and from society at large. In particular, the essay highlights a need to shift to more holistic planning, investment and operation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In today's climate, the annually averaged surface air temperature in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) is 1 degrees-2 degrees C higher than in the Southern Hemisphere (SH). Historically, this interhemispheric temperature difference has been attributed to a number of factors, including seasonal differences in insolation, the larger area of (tropical) land in the NH, the particularities of the Antarctic in terms of albedo and temperature, and northward heat transport by ocean circulation. A detailed investigation of these factors and their contribution to the temperature difference, however, has to the authors' knowledge not been performed so far. Here the origin of the interhemispheric temperature difference is traced using an assessment of climatological data and the observed energy budget of Earth as well as model simulations. It is found that for the preindustrial climate the temperature difference is predominantly due to meridional heat transport in the oceans, with an additional contribution from the albedo differences between the polar regions. The combination of these factors (that are to some extent coupled) governs the evolution of the temperature difference over the past millennium. Since the beginning of industrialization the interhemispheric temperature difference has increased due to melting of sea ice and snow in the NH. Furthermore, the predicted higher rate of warming over land as compared to the oceans contributes to this increase. Simulations for the twenty-first century show that the interhemispheric temperature difference continues to grow for the highest greenhouse gas emission scenarios due to the land-ocean warming contrast and the strong loss of Arctic sea ice, whereas the decrease in overturning strength dominates for the more moderate scenarios.
Journal of Climate 09/2013; 26(18):7136-7150. DOI:10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00636.1 · 4.90 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Schon fast 200 Jahre kennen Wissenschaftler den Treibhauseffekt. Entstehung, Ausmaß und Folgen der Erderwärmung werden seitdem immer genauer beschrieben. Doch Politik, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft nehmen alle Warnungen nicht ernst genug. Zunächst gilt es, den globalen Temperaturanstieg gegenüber dem vorindustriellen Niveau im Mittel auf unter zwei Grad Celsius zu begrenzen – eigentlich ein eher bescheidenes Ziel. Es ist ein Kompromiss zwischen dem aus der Sicht der Wissenschaftler Erforderlichen und dem politisch Erreichbaren. Heute sind die Optionen für eine klimafreundlichere Gewinnung und Nutzung von Energie klarer denn je – wir müssen sie nur mit aller Kraft verfolgen, denn die Zeit für ihre Umsetzung läuft uns davon.