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In the last decades, little sea ice in the Arctic in fall has been associated with cold winters in Europe. A new study signals little reason to prepare for frosty nights and heavy snow, despite less than normal ice in the north.

Have you ever wanted to go back in time? It is not so easy in the real world, but in the model world anything is possible.

Earth has been a snowball. In a new study, Heiko Goelzer and colleagues have used an Earth system model to study the transitions between a glaciated and a non-glaciated Earth, around 700 million years ago.

During the Last Glacial Maxium the atmosphere contained less than half as much CO2 as today. New study finds that both the biological carbon cycling and the ocean circulation were different. 

Mighty floods have carved out deep canyons on Earth. New research suggests this required less power than previously believed. Collecting such data, however, may be demanding. 

Injecting particles into the atmosphere would reduce the temperature increase. But for the world’s ecosystems there is no alternative to mitigation efforts.

Sea level variations in Northern Europe are influenced by winds high above the Atlantic, new study shows. In the western part of the North Sea, the wind direction is more important than the wind speed.

Future climate scenarios are beyond comparison with recent times. When evaluating models, researcher Petra Langebroek goes 50 million years back.

A comparison of Greenland ice sheet models shows that while the surface mass balance is most realistic in the most complex models, simpler and faster models compare fairly well.

Cyclones in the Gulf Stream and Kuroshio regions

Cyclones in the Gulf Stream and Kuroshio regions Anonymous (not verified) Wed, 11/18/2020 - 14:38 Cyclones in the Gulf Stream and Kuroshio regions Cyclones in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are affected by the Gulf Stream and the Kuroshio. The temperature of the water below is only one of the factors controlling their development.

Written by Leonidas Tsopouridis, researcher at the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Reserach and the Geophysical Institute at the University of Bergen.

We compare the characteristics of cyclones following different tracks relative to the SST front in the Gulf Stream and the Kuroshio region. We highlight the importance of the land-sea contrast on increasing low-level baroclinicity and thus cyclone intensification in the Gulf Stream region, while we underline the role of the Pacific upper-level jet on intensifying cyclones and increasing large-scale precipitation in the Kuroshio region.

The Northwest Atlantic and the Northwest Pacific feature strong SST gradients providing favourable conditions for wintertime cyclone intensification in the midlatitudes. To investigate the cyclone characteristics and the mechanisms leading to cyclone intensification in the two regions we track individual cyclones and categorize them depending on their propagation relative to the SST fronts, which were identified using an objective frontal detection scheme.

For the cyclone propagation, we considered five categories, yet concentrated on cyclones staying either on the cold (C1) or warm (C2) side of the SST front, and those crossing the SST front from the warm to the cold side (C3).

Cyclones
a) Schematic of the cyclone classification based on the cyclone position relative to the SST front, b) an example of a C3 cyclone in the Gulf Stream region.

To compare the characteristics of cyclones following different tracks relative to the SST front, we performed a cyclone-relative composite analysis around the time of maximum intensification.

In our study for the Gulf Stream region, we identified that the land-sea contrast clearly influences cyclone intensification, particularly for cyclones propagating to the north of the SST front (C1), while the increased low-level baroclinicity observed for C3 cyclones is partially attributable to the Gulf Stream SST front. Both C1 and C3 cyclones are also associated with strong upper-level forcing.

We found convective precipitation to be closely related to the SSTs under the cyclones, while we hypothesized that low-level baroclinicity, via increased isentropic upglide, might be an additional factor determining precipitation intensity, in addition to moisture availability and cyclone intensity. However, given the special geographic characteristics of the western North Atlantic a generalisation of our results for other western boundary currents would not be straightforward.

Therefore, in our second study we focused on the Kuroshio region, which is located further away from the continent. Not surprisingly, we found land-sea contrast to play a less prominent role for the low-level baroclinicity in the Kuroshio compared to the Gulf Stream region. Contrary to our results for the Northwest Atlantic, we found cyclones remaining always on the warm side of the Kuroshio SST front to deepen more rapidly.

The propagation of cyclones over higher SSTs has been proved to enhance cyclone intensification, but the SSTs on the warm side of the Kuroshio SST front are lower compared to the respective in the Gulf Stream region, where C2 cyclones intensified the least. Moreover, low-level baroclinicity is weaker around the Kuroshio than around the Gulf Stream.

Therefore, we considered the upper-level forcing. We found the higher intensification of both C2 and C3 cyclones in the Kuroshio region to be consistent with their location close to the left exit of an intense upper-tropospheric jet stream, which also contributed to the higher observed large-scale precipitation.

Overall, our feature-based analyses highlighted the characteristics (e.g., moisture, surface heat fluxes, precipitation, wind speed) of cyclones following different pathways in the Gulf Stream and Kuroshio regions and identified the different mechanisms leading to cyclone intensification in the two regions.

Despite the fact that higher baroclinicity observed for cyclones in C3, was partially attributable to the SST fronts, which provide a conducive environment for cyclone growth, our results do not suggest a direct impact of the SST front on the intensification of individual cyclones propagating over the two ocean basins.

References

Tsopouridis L, Spensberger C, Spengler T., (2020) Characteristics of cyclones following different pathways in the Gulf Stream region, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 1-16, https://doi.org/10.1002/qj.3924

Tsopouridis L, Spensberger C, Spengler T., (2020) Cyclone Intensification in the Kuroshio Region and its relation to the Sea Surface Temperature Front and Upper-Level Forcing, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 1-16, https://doi.org/10.1002/qj.3929

Effects of global warming visible for tens of thousands of years

Effects of global warming visible for tens of thousands of years Anonymous (not verified) Mon, 11/16/2020 - 13:50 Effects of global warming visible for tens of thousands of years In 10,000 years the Greeland ice sheet will be gone, but what about Antarctica? Heiko Goelzer presents research for the coming millennia.

Written by Heiko Goelzer, researcher at the Bjerknes Centre and NORCE

Most projections of global sea level rise run until the end of this century. However, the melting of entire ice sheets is a very slow process and once the ice sheets are out of balance, it may take hundreds to thousands of years before a new equilibrium is reached.

In our new study, published in the journal Earth System Dynamics, a group of researchers from Brussels and Bergen has made projections for sea level rise over the next 10,000 years, using coupled models of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the atmosphere and the ocean.

Jonas Van Breedam who led the study states: “Emissions of greenhouse gases over the next 30 to 200 years could result in a global average sea level rise of 9 to 37 metres over the next 100 centuries.” 

We made projections for sea level rise over the next 10,000 years for a series of climate scenarios ranging from a CO2 peak over the next 30 years to the emission of most available CO2 reserves over the next 200 years. The highest scenario also takes into account an increased greenhouse effect when the permafrost on land and ocean floor melts and releases methane in large quantities. 

Depending on these greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels could rise by between 9.2 m and 37.4 m in 10,000 years. The Greenland ice sheet disappears completely in all scenarios, while the Antarctic ice sheet remains largely intact in a low-emission scenario and could lose up to half of its mass in a high-emission scenario. It is only after 10,000 years that ice sheets come into balance with the surrounding climate and the change in sea-level falls back to a maximum of 5 cm per 100 years.

In the high-emission scenario, sea level rises by more than 1 m per century on average during the first 2,000 years. For the low-emission scenario, the rate of sea-level rise is 10 times lower for the same period, at an average of 11 cm per century. The rate of sea-level rise is thus highly dependent on the total amount of CO2 emitted. 

Our study shows that the effect of current warming on ice sheets and sea level will remain visible for thousands of years, mainly due to the long response times of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets adjusting to a change in climate conditions.

Sea level rise
Contribution of the Antarctic ice sheet, the Greenland ice sheet, the expansion of ocean water and mountain glaciers to global sea level for a low-emission scenario (MMCP2.6) and a very high-emission scenario (MMCP-feedback). 

Reference

Van Breedam, J., Goelzer, H., and Huybrechts, P.: Semi-equilibrated global sea-level change projections for the next 10 000 years, Earth Syst. Dynam., 11, 953–976, https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-11-953-2020, 2020.