SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Meteorology

71

The change of global-mean precipitation under global warming and interannual variability is predominantly controlled by the change of atmospheric longwave radiative cooling. Here we show that tightening of the ascending branch of the Hadley Circulation coupled with a decrease in tropical high cloud fraction is key in modulating precipitation response to surface warming. The magnitude of high cloud shrinkage is a primary contributor to the intermodel spread in the changes of tropical-mean outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) and global-mean precipitation per unit surface warming (dP/dTs) for both interannual variability and global warming. Compared to observations, most Coupled Model Inter-comparison Project Phase 5 models underestimate the rates of interannual tropical-mean dOLR/dTs and global-mean dP/dTs, consistent with the muted tropical high cloud shrinkage. We find that the five models that agree with the observation-based interannual dP/dTs all predict dP/dTs under global warming higher than the ensemble mean dP/dTs from the ∼20 models analysed in this study.

Concepts: Earth, Precipitation, Climate, Meteorology, Global warming, Rain, Cloud

65

A combination of climate events (e.g., low precipitation and high temperatures) may cause a significant impact on the ecosystem and society, although individual events involved may not be severe extremes themselves. Analyzing historical changes in concurrent climate extremes is critical to preparing for and mitigating the negative effects of climatic change and variability. This study focuses on the changes in concurrences of heatwaves and meteorological droughts from 1960 to 2010. Despite an apparent hiatus in rising temperature and no significant trend in droughts, we show a substantial increase in concurrent droughts and heatwaves across most parts of the United States, and a statistically significant shift in the distribution of concurrent extremes. Although commonly used trend analysis methods do not show any trend in concurrent droughts and heatwaves, a unique statistical approach discussed in this study exhibits a statistically significant change in the distribution of the data.

Concepts: Statistics, United States, Precipitation, Climate, Weather, Climate change, Meteorology, Analysis

60

The collapse of some pre-historical and historical cultures, including Chinese dynasties were presumably linked to widespread droughts, on the basis of synchronicities of societal crises and proxy-based climate events. Here, we present a comparison of ancient inscriptions in Dayu Cave from Qinling Mountains, central China, which described accurate times and detailed impacts of seven drought events during the period of 1520-1920 CE, with high-resolution speleothem records from the same cave. The comparable results provide unique and robust tests on relationships among speleothem δ(18)O changes, drought events, and societal unrest. With direct historical evidences, our results suggest that droughts and even modest events interrupting otherwise wet intervals can cause serious social crises. Modeling results of speleothem δ(18)O series suggest that future precipitation in central China may be below the average of the past 500 years. As Qinling Mountain is the main recharge area of two large water transfer projects and habitats of many endangered species, it is imperative to explore an adaptive strategy for the decline in precipitation and/or drought events.

Concepts: Precipitation, Climate, China, Endangered species, Meteorology, Giant Panda, Adaptation, Drought

55

In countries where severe drought is an anticipated effect of climate change and in those that heavily depend on upstream nations for fresh water, the effect of drier conditions and consequent changes in the transboundary streamflow regime induced by anthropogenic interventions and disasters leads to uncertainty in regional water security. As a case in point, we analyze Jordan’s surface water resources and agricultural water demand through 2100, considering the combined impacts of climate change and land-use change driven by the Syrian conflict. We use bias-corrected regional climate simulations as input to high-resolution hydrologic models to assess three drought types: meteorological (rainfall decrease), agricultural (soil moisture deficit), and hydrologic (streamflow decline) under future scenarios. The historical baseline period (1981-2010) is compared to the future (2011-2100), divided into three 30-year periods. Comparing the baseline period to 2070-2100, average temperature increases by 4.5°C, rainfall decreases by 30%, and multiple drought-type occurrences increase from ~8 in 30 years to ~25 in 30 years. There is a significant increase in the contemporaneous occurrence of multiple drought types along with an 80% increase in simultaneous warm and dry events. Watershed simulations of future transboundary Yarmouk-Jordan River flow from Syria show that Jordan would receive 51 to 75% less Yarmouk water compared to historical flow. Recovery of Syrian irrigated agriculture to pre-conflict conditions would produce twice the decline in transboundary flow as that due to climate change. In Jordan, the confluence of limited water supply, future drought, and transboundary hydrologic impacts of land use severely challenges achieving freshwater sustainability.

Concepts: Agriculture, Water, Precipitation, Water management, Hydrology, Irrigation, Meteorology, Water resources

53

This study investigates the role of the eleven-year solar cycle on the Arctic climate during 1979-2016. It reveals that during those years, when the winter solar sunspot number (SSN) falls below 1.35 standard deviations (or mean value), the Arctic warming extends from the lower troposphere to high up in the upper stratosphere and vice versa when SSN is above. The warming in the atmospheric column reflects an easterly zonal wind anomaly consistent with warm air and positive geopotential height anomalies for years with minimum SSN and vice versa for the maximum. Despite the inherent limitations of statistical techniques, three different methods - Compositing, Multiple Linear Regression and Correlation - all point to a similar modulating influence of the sun on winter Arctic climate via the pathway of Arctic Oscillation. Presenting schematics, it discusses the mechanisms of how solar cycle variability influences the Arctic climate involving the stratospheric route. Compositing also detects an opposite solar signature on Eurasian snow-cover, which is a cooling during Minimum years, while warming in maximum. It is hypothesized that the reduction of ice in the Arctic and a growth in Eurasia, in recent winters, may in part, be a result of the current weaker solar cycle.

Concepts: Statistics, Sun, Standard deviation, Atmosphere, Meteorology, Stratosphere, Troposphere, Ozone layer

50

Analyses of (131)I, (137)Cs and (134)Cs in airborne aerosols were carried out in daily samples in Vilnius, Lithuania after the Fukushima accident during the period of March-April, 2011. The activity concentrations of (131)I and (137)Cs ranged from 12 μBq/m(3) and 1.4 μBq/m(3) to 3700 μBq/m(3) and 1040 μBq/m(3), respectively. The activity concentration of (239,240)Pu in one aerosol sample collected from 23 March to 15 April, 2011 was found to be 44.5 nBq/m(3). The two maxima found in radionuclide concentrations were related to complicated long-range air mass transport from Japan across the Pacific, the North America and the Atlantic Ocean to Central Europe as indicated by modelling. HYSPLIT backward trajectories and meteorological data were applied for interpretation of activity variations of measured radionuclides observed at the site of investigation. (7)Be and (212)Pb activity concentrations and their ratios were used as tracers of vertical transport of air masses. Fukushima data were compared with the data obtained during the Chernobyl accident and in the post Chernobyl period. The activity concentrations of (131)I and (137)Cs were found to be by 4 orders of magnitude lower as compared to the Chernobyl accident. The activity ratio of (134)Cs/(137)Cs was around 1 with small variations only. The activity ratio of (238)Pu/(239,240)Pu in the aerosol sample was 1.2, indicating a presence of the spent fuel of different origin than that of the Chernobyl accident.

Concepts: United States, Atlantic Ocean, Europe, Meteorology, Smoke, Radiation poisoning, Radioactive contamination, Financial ratio

49

The oceans' phytoplankton that underpin the marine food chain appear to be changing in abundance due to global climate change. Here, we compare the first four years of data from a citizen science ocean transparency study, conducted by seafarers using home-made Secchi Disks and a free Smartphone application called Secchi, with contemporaneous satellite ocean colour measurements. Our results show seafarers collect useful Secchi Disk measurements of ocean transparency that could help future assessments of climate-induced changes in the phytoplankton when used to extend historical Secchi Disk data.

Concepts: Climate, Weather, Greek loanwords, Climate change, Meteorology, Ocean, Solar variation, Global warming

47

Rising global temperatures are causing increases in the frequency and severity of extreme climatic events, such as floods, droughts, and heat waves. We analyze changes in summer temperatures, the frequency, severity, and duration of heat waves, and heat-related mortality in India between 1960 and 2009 using data from the India Meteorological Department. Mean temperatures across India have risen by more than 0.5°C over this period, with statistically significant increases in heat waves. Using a novel probabilistic model, we further show that the increase in summer mean temperatures in India over this period corresponds to a 146% increase in the probability of heat-related mortality events of more than 100 people. In turn, our results suggest that future climate warming will lead to substantial increases in heat-related mortality, particularly in developing low-latitude countries, such as India, where heat waves will become more frequent and populations are especially vulnerable to these extreme temperatures. Our findings indicate that even moderate increases in mean temperatures may cause great increases in heat-related mortality and support the efforts of governments and international organizations to build up the resilience of these vulnerable regions to more severe heat waves.

Concepts: Statistics, Precipitation, Climate, Weather, Climate change, Probability theory, Meteorology, Global warming

46

The National Eclipse Weather Experiment (NEWEx) was a citizen science project designed to assess the effects of the 20 March 2015 partial solar eclipse on the weather over the United Kingdom (UK). NEWEx had two principal objectives: to provide a spatial network of meteorological observations across the UK to aid the investigation of eclipse-induced weather changes, and to develop a nationwide public engagement activity-based participation of citizen scientists. In total, NEWEx collected 15 606 observations of air temperature, cloudiness and wind speed and direction from 309 locations across the UK, over a 3 h window spanning the eclipse period. The headline results were processed in near real time, immediately published online, and featured in UK national press articles on the day of the eclipse. Here, we describe the technical development of NEWEx and how the observations provided by the citizen scientists were analysed. By comparing the results of the NEWEx analyses with results from other investigations of the same eclipse using different observational networks, including measurements from the University of Reading’s Atmospheric Observatory, we demonstrate that NEWEx provided a fair representation of the change in the UK meteorological conditions throughout the eclipse. Despite the simplicity of the approach adopted, robust reductions in both temperature and wind speed during the eclipse were observed.This article is part of the themed issue ‘Atmospheric effects of solar eclipses stimulated by the 2015 UK eclipse’.

Concepts: Earth, Sun, United Kingdom, Lunar eclipse, Meteorology, Wind, Eclipse, Solar eclipse

42

As climate change unfolds, weather systems in the United States have been shifting in patterns that vary across regions and seasons. Climate science research typically assesses these changes by examining individual weather indicators, such as temperature or precipitation, in isolation, and averaging their values across the spatial surface. As a result, little is known about population exposure to changes in weather and how people experience and evaluate these changes considered together. Here we show that in the United States from 1974 to 2013, the weather conditions experienced by the vast majority of the population improved. Using previous research on how weather affects local population growth to develop an index of people’s weather preferences, we find that 80% of Americans live in counties that are experiencing more pleasant weather than they did four decades ago. Virtually all Americans are now experiencing the much milder winters that they typically prefer, and these mild winters have not been offset by markedly more uncomfortable summers or other negative changes. Climate change models predict that this trend is temporary, however, because US summers will eventually warm more than winters. Under a scenario in which greenhouse gas emissions proceed at an unabated rate (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5), we estimate that 88% of the US public will experience weather at the end of the century that is less preferable than weather in the recent past. Our results have implications for the public’s understanding of the climate change problem, which is shaped in part by experiences with local weather. Whereas weather patterns in recent decades have served as a poor source of motivation for Americans to demand a policy response to climate change, public concern may rise once people’s everyday experiences of climate change effects start to become less pleasant.

Concepts: United States, Climate, Weather, Climate change, Experience, Meteorology, Monsoon, Greenhouse gas