On the Response of the Aleutian Low to Greenhouse Warming
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On the Response of the Aleutian Low to Greenhouse Warming

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  • Journal Title:
    Journal of Climate
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    Past and future changes in the Aleutian low are investigated by using observation-based sea level pressure (SLP) datasets and CMIP5 models. It is found that the Aleutian low intensity, measured by the North Pacific Index (NPI), has significantly strengthened during the twentieth century, with the observed centennial trend double the modeled counterpart for the multimodel average of historical simulations, suggesting compound signals of anthropogenic warming and natural variability. As climate warms under the strongest future warming scenario, the climatological-mean Aleutian low will continue to intensify and expand northward, as manifested in the significant decrease (−1.3 hPa) of the multimodel-averaged NPI, which is 1.6 times its unforced internal variability, and the increase in the central area of low pressure (SLP < 999.0 hPa), which expands about 7 times that in the twentieth century. A suite of idealized experiments further demonstrates that the deepening of the Aleutian low can be driven by an El Niño–like warming of the tropical Pacific sea surface temperature (SST), with a reduction in the climatological-mean zonal SST gradient, which overshadows the dampening effect of a weakened wintertime land–ocean thermal contrast on the Aleutian low change in a warmer climate. While the projected deepening of Aleutian low on multimodel average is robust, individual model portrayals vary primarily in magnitude. Intermodel difference in surface warming amplitude over the Asian continent, which is found to explain about 31% of the variance of the NPI changes across models, has a greater contribution than that in the spatial pattern of tropical Pacific SST warming (which explains about 23%) to model uncertainty in the projection of Aleutian low intensity.
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    Journal of Climate, 30(10), 3907-3925
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    0894-8755;1520-0442;
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