Climate Dynamics Group
at the University of California, Santa Cruz

Characterizing the Hadley circulation response through regional climate feedbacks

research paper
  • Nicole Feldl
  • Simona Bordoni
updates ↓

01/11/16 Feldl, N., and S. Bordoni (2016), Journal of Climate, 29, 613-622, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0424.1.

The robust weakening of the tropical atmospheric circulation in projections of anthropogenic warming is associated with substantial changes in regional and global climate. The present study focuses on understanding the response of the annual-mean Hadley circulation from a perspective of interactions between climate feedbacks and tropical circulation. Simulations from an ensemble of coupled ocean–atmosphere models are used to quantify changes in Hadley cell strength in terms of feedbacks, radiative forcing, ocean heat uptake, atmospheric eddies, and gross moist stability. Climate feedbacks are calculated for the model integrations from CMIP5 using radiative kernels. Tropical mean circulation is found to be reduced by up to 2.6%/K for an abrupt quadrupling of carbon dioxide concentration. The weakening is characterized by an increase in gross moist stability, by an increase in eddy heat flux, and by positive extratropical feedbacks, such as those associated with lapse rate and sea ice response. Understanding the impact of radiative feedbacks on the large-scale circulation provides a framework for constraining uncertainty in the dynamic climate response, including the hydrological cycle.