Anthropogenic sulfate aerosol and the southward shift of tropical precipitation in the late 20th century
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- Anthropogenic sulfate aerosol and the southward shift of tropical precipitation in the late 20th century
- Hwang, Yen-Ting; Frierson, Dargan M. W.; Kang, Sarah M.
- climate change and variability; climate dynamics; clouds and aerosols; global climate models
- Issue Date
- AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION
- GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, v.40, no.11, pp.2845 - 2850
- In this paper, we demonstrate a global scale southward shift of the tropical rain belt during the latter half of the 20th century in observations and global climate models (GCMs). In rain gauge data, the southward shift maximizes in the 1980s and is associated with signals in Africa, Asia, and South America. A southward shift exists at a similar time in nearly all CMIP3 and CMIP5 historical simulations, and occurs on both land and ocean, although in most models the shifts are significantly less than in observations. Utilizing a theoretical framework based on atmospheric energetics, we perform an attribution of the zonal mean southward shift of precipitation across a large suite of CMIP3 and CMIP5 GCMs. Our results suggest that anthropogenic aerosol cooling of the Northern Hemisphere is the primary cause of the consistent southward shift across GCMs, although other processes affecting the atmospheric energy budget also contribute to the model-to-model spread.
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