Publication Abstracts

Ye et al. 1998

Ye, B., A.D. Del Genio, and K.K.-W. Lo, 1998: CAPE variations in the current climate and in a climate change. J. Climate, 11, 1997-2015, doi:10.1175/1520-0442(1998)011<1997:CVITHCC>2.0.CO;2.

Observed variations of convective available potential energy (CAPE) in the current climate provide one useful test of the performance of cumulus parameterizations used in general circulation models (GCMs). It is found that frequency distributions of tropical Pacific CAPE, as well as the dependence of CAPE on surface potential temperature (Θw) simulated by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies GCM, agree well with that observed during the Australian Monsoon Experiment period. CAPE variability in the current climate greatly overestimates climatic change in basinwide CAPE in the tropical Pacific in response to a 2°C increase in sea surface temperature (SST) in the GCM because of the different physics involved. In the current climate, CAPE variations in space and time are dominated by regional changes in boundary layer temperature and moisture, which in turn are controlled by SST patterns and large-scale motions. Geographical thermodynamic structure variations in the middle and upper troposhere are smaller because of the canceling effects of adiabatic cooling and subsidence warming in the rising and sinking branches of the Walker and Hadley circulations. In a forced equilibrium global climate change, temperature change is fairly well constrained by the change in the moist adiabatic lapse rate and thus the troposphere warms to a greater extent than the surface. For this reason, climate change in CAPE is better predicted by assuming that relative humidity remains constant and that the temperature changes according to the moist adiabatic lapse rate change of a pracel with 80% relative humidity lifted from the surafce. The moist adiabatic assumption is not symmetrically applicable to a warmer and colder climate: In a warmer regime moist convection determines the tropical temperature structure, but when the climate becomes colder the effects of moist convection diminishes and the large-scale dynamics and radiative processes become relatively important. Although a prediction based on the change in moist adiabat matches the GCM simulation of climate change averaged over the tropical Pacific basin, it does not match the simulation regionally because small changes in the general circulation change the local boundary layer relative humidity by 1%-2%. Thus, the prediction of regional climate change in CAPE is also dependent on subtle changes in the dynamics.

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BibTeX Citation

  author={Ye, B. and Del Genio, A. D. and Lo, K. K.-W.},
  title={CAPE variations in the current climate and in a climate change},
  journal={J. Climate},

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RIS Citation

ID  - ye01000b
AU  - Ye, B.
AU  - Del Genio, A. D.
AU  - Lo, K. K.-W.
PY  - 1998
TI  - CAPE variations in the current climate and in a climate change
JA  - J. Climate
VL  - 11
SP  - 1997
EP  - 2015
DO  - 10.1175/1520-0442(1998)011%3C1997%3ACVITHCC%3E2.0.CO;2
ER  -

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