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Observational Evidence for Two Modes of Coupling Between Sea Surface Temperatures, Tropospheric Temperature Profile, and Shortwave Cloud Radiative Effect in the Tropics

Author(s): Fueglistaler, Stephan

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Abstract: Tropical average shortwave cloud radiative effect (SWCRE) anomalies observed by CERES/EBAF v4 are explained by observed average sea surface temperature (SST) and the difference between the warmest 30% where deep convection occurs and SST (SST#). Observed tropospheric temperatures show variations in boundary layer capping strength over time consistent with the evolution of SST#. The CERES/EBAF v4 data confirm that associated cloud fraction changes over the colder waters dominate SWCRE. This observational evidence for the “pattern effect” noted in General Circulation Model simulations suggests that SST# captures much of this effect. The observed sensitivities (dSWCRE/dSST ≈ 1.8W·m−2·K−1, dSWCRE/dSST# ≈ −4.8W·m−2·K−1) largely reflect El Niño–Southern Oscillation. As El Niño develops, SST increases and SST# decreases (both increasing SWCRE). Only after the El Niño peak, SST# increases and SWCRE decreases. SST# is also relevant for the tropical temperature trend profile controversy and the discrepancy between observed and modeled equatorial Pacific SST trends. Causality and implications for future climates are discussed.
Publication Date: 7-Aug-2019
Electronic Publication Date: 20-Aug-2019
Citation: Fueglistaler, Stephan. "Observational evidence for two modes of coupling between sea surface temperatures, tropospheric temperature profile, and shortwave cloud radiative effect in the tropics." Geophysical Research Letters 46, no. 16 (2019): 9890-9898. doi: 10.1029/2019GL083990.
DOI: doi:10.1029/2019GL083990
ISSN: 0094-8276
EISSN: 1944-8007
Pages: 9890 - 9898
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Geophysical Research Letters
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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