The Role of Internal Variability in Twenty‐First‐Century Projections of the Seasonal Cycle of Northern Hemisphere Surface Temperature
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The Role of Internal Variability in Twenty‐First‐Century Projections of the Seasonal Cycle of Northern Hemisphere Surface Temperature

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  • Journal Title:
    Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
  • Description:
    The seasonal cycle is fundamental to the Earth's climate system, accounting for the vast majority of temperature variance. Understanding how the seasonal cycle will change in the future, and by when, is a key question with important implications. Here a 40‐member initial condition climate model ensemble is used to investigate the influence of internal variability on the detection of changes in the amplitude and timing of the seasonal cycle of surface temperature over Northern Hemisphere land in response to increasing greenhouse gases. Internal variability renders the detection of these changes challenging; even by the mid‐twenty‐first century, small ensembles will be insufficient to separate the forced signals from internal variability over many continental regions in the Northern Hemisphere. Despite this, projected changes over Europe, North Africa, and Siberia are large and easily detectable, even in a single member. Specifically, amplitude increases over Europe and North Africa while it decreases over Siberia. On the other hand, the timing of the seasonal cycle is delayed over all three regions. It is found that these changes are remarkably robust across model ensembles from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 archive. To understand the mechanisms underlying these robust changes, a simple energy balance model is used to partition changes into contributions arising from changes in the physical parameters that control the seasonal cycle. It is found that future changes in the seasonal cycle over the three regions are most strongly controlled by changes in surface longwave and turbulent heat fluxes.
  • Source:
    JGR Atmospheres 123(23): 13149-13167, 2018
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