Advances in Atmospheric Sciences

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 867–886 | Cite as

Impacts of multi-scale solar activity on climate. Part I: Atmospheric circulation patterns and climate extremes

  • Hengyi WengEmail author


The impacts of solar activity on climate are explored in this two-part study. Based on the principles of atmospheric dynamics, Part I propose an amplifying mechanism of solar impacts on winter climate extremes through changing the atmospheric circulation patterns. This mechanism is supported by data analysis of the sunspot number up to the predicted Solar Cycle 24, the historical surface temperature data, and atmospheric variables of NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis up to the February 2011 for the Northern Hemisphere winters. For low solar activity, the thermal contrast between the low- and high-latitudes is enhanced, so as the mid-latitude baroclinic ultra-long wave activity. The land-ocean thermal contrast is also enhanced, which amplifies the topographic waves. The enhanced mid-latitude waves in turn enhance the meridional heat transport from the low to high latitudes, making the atmospheric “heat engine” more efficient than normal. The jets shift southward and the polar vortex is weakened. The Northern Annular Mode (NAM) index tends to be negative. The mid-latitude surface exhibits large-scale convergence and updrafts, which favor extreme weather/climate events to occur. The thermally driven Siberian high is enhanced, which enhances the East Asian winter monsoon (EAWM). For high solar activity, the mid-latitude circulation patterns are less wavy with less meridional transport. The NAM tends to be positive, and the Siberian high and the EAWM tend to be weaker than normal. Thus the extreme weather/climate events for high solar activity occur in different regions with different severity from those for low solar activity. The solar influence on the midto high-latitude surface temperature and circulations can stand out after removing the influence from the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. The atmospheric amplifying mechanism indicates that the solar impacts on climate should not be simply estimated by the magnitude of the change in the solar radiation over solar cycles when it is compared with other external radiative forcings that do not influence the climate in the same way as the sun does.

Key words

solar impacts on climate surface thermal contrasts dynamical amplifying mechanism atmospheric circulations climate extremes 


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Copyright information

© Chinese National Committee for International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Science Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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