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Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Dynamics of Global Warming

UTIG Seminars

Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Dynamics of Global Warming

Shang-Ping Xie
University of California, San Diego

When: Friday, February 28, 2014, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Join us for coffee beginning at 10:00 a.m.
Where: Seminar Conference Room, 10100 Burnet Road, Bldg 196-ROC, Austin, Texas 78758
Host: Yuko Okumura, UTIG

Click for a Live Broadcast.


image from Dr. Xie's talk

Global surface air temperature has increased by less than 1°C over the past century, a change due to anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gases. Atmospheric concentration of CO2 exceeded 400 ppm at Mauna Loa in 2013 for the first time, yet global temperature has remained flat for the past 15 years. Our model results show that this apparent deviation from the anthropogenic climate warming is largely due to a decadal cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean. This result is supported by seasonal and regional variations of climate anomalies over the past decade. This pause of global warming is temporary, illustrating the importance of natural variability in interpreting decadal climate trends.

California is in a deep drought that started three years ago. How precipitation will change in the face of global warming is an important question but difficult to answer. The challenge has to do with the characteristics of precipitation change. While surface temperature is expected to rise everywhere in response to the greenhouse gas forcing, precipitation change is to first order spatially variable, positive in some regions and negative in some others. Spatial pattern of ocean warming has emerged as an important factor for tropical rainfall change. The talk will discuss recent research in coupled ocean-atmosphere interactions pertinent to regional climate change.