Publication Abstracts

Chen et al. 2011

Chen, Y., J.R. Miller, J.A. Francis, and G.R. Russell, 2011: Projected regime shift in Arctic cloud and water vapor feedbacks. Environ. Res. Lett., 6, 044007, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/044007.

The Arctic climate is changing faster than any other large-scale region on Earth. A variety of positive feedback mechanisms are responsible for the amplification, most of which are linked with changes in snow and ice cover, surface temperature (Ts), atmospheric water vapor (WV), and cloud properties. As greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere, air temperature and water vapor content also increase, leading to a warmer surface and ice loss, which further enhance evaporation and WV. Many details of these interrelated feedbacks are poorly understood, yet are essential for understanding the pace and regional variations in future Arctic change. We use a global climate model (Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Atmosphere-Ocean Model) to examine several components of these feedbacks, how they vary by season, and how they are projected to change through the 21st century. One positive feedback begins with an increase in Ts that produces an increase in WV, which in turn increases the downward longwave flux (DLF) and Ts, leading to further evaporation. Another associates the expected increases in cloud cover and optical thickness with increasing DLF and Ts. We examine the sensitivities between DLF and other climate variables in these feedbacks and find that they are strongest in the non-summer seasons, leading to the largest amplification in Ts during these months. Later in the 21st century, however, DLF becomes less sensitive to changes in WV and cloud optical thickness, as they cause the atmosphere to emit longwave radiation more nearly as a black body. This regime shift in sensitivity implies that the amplified pace of Arctic change relative to the northern hemisphere could relax in the future.

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BibTeX Citation

  author={Chen, Y. and Miller, J. R. and Francis, J. A. and Russell, G. R.},
  title={Projected regime shift in Arctic cloud and water vapor feedbacks},
  journal={Environ. Res. Lett.},

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RIS Citation

ID  - ch03010w
AU  - Chen, Y.
AU  - Miller, J. R.
AU  - Francis, J. A.
AU  - Russell, G. R.
PY  - 2011
TI  - Projected regime shift in Arctic cloud and water vapor feedbacks
JA  - Environ. Res. Lett.
VL  - 6
SP  - 044007
DO  - 10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/044007
ER  -

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