Climate Dynamics

, Volume 40, Issue 7–8, pp 2035–2048 | Cite as

A regional response in mean westerly circulation and rainfall to projected climate warming over Tasmania, Australia

  • Michael R. Grose
  • Stuart P. Corney
  • Jack J. Katzfey
  • James C. Bennett
  • Gregory K. Holz
  • Christopher J. White
  • Nathaniel L. Bindoff
Article

Abstract

Coupled ocean–atmosphere general circulation models (GCMs) lack sufficient resolution to model the regional detail of changes to mean circulation and rainfall with projected climate warming. In this paper, changes in mean circulation and rainfall in GCMs are compared to those in a variable resolution regional climate model, the Conformal Cubic Atmospheric Model (CCAM), under a high greenhouse gas emissions scenario. The study site is Tasmania, Australia, which is positioned within the mid-latitude westerlies of the southern hemisphere. CCAM projects a different response in mean sea level pressure and mid-latitude westerly circulation to climate warming to the GCMs used as input, and shows greater regional detail of the boundaries between regions of increasing and decreasing rainfall. Changes in mean circulation dominate the mean rainfall response in western Tasmania, whereas changes to rainfall in the East Coast are less related to mean circulation changes. CCAM projects an amplification of the dominant westerly circulation over Tasmania and this amplifies the seasonal cycle of wet winters and dry summers in the west. There is a larger change in the strength than in the incidence of westerly circulation and rainfall events. We propose the regional climate model displays a more sensitive atmospheric response to the different rates of warming of land and sea than the GCMs as input. The regional variation in these results highlight the need for dynamical downscaling of coupled general circulation models to finely resolve the influence of mean circulation and boundaries between regions of projected increases and decreases in rainfall.

Keywords

Climate change Mean circulation Southern hemisphere westerlies Surface warming Rainfall Regional climate model 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge J.L McGregor (CAWCR) for providing the CCAM model and assisting in running the simulations. Thanks to W.F Budd for advice and assistance in the development of the scientific approach. We thank the two anonymous referees for their considered and helpful comments. This work was supported by the Australian government’s Cooperative Research Centres Program through the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC). Climate Futures for Tasmania is possible with support through funding and research of a consortium of state and national partners. We acknowledge the modelling groups, the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) and the WCRP’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling (WGCM) for their roles in making available the WCRP CMIP3 multi-model dataset. Support of this dataset is provided by the Office of Science, US Department of Energy.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael R. Grose
    • 1
  • Stuart P. Corney
    • 1
  • Jack J. Katzfey
    • 2
  • James C. Bennett
    • 3
    • 4
  • Gregory K. Holz
    • 1
  • Christopher J. White
    • 1
    • 5
  • Nathaniel L. Bindoff
    • 1
    • 3
    • 6
  1. 1.Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC)University of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research (CAWCR)CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric ResearchAspendaleAustralia
  3. 3.Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS)University of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  4. 4.CSIRO Land and WaterHighett MelbourneAustralia
  5. 5.Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research (CAWCR)Bureau of Meteorology, c/o CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Castray EsplanadeHobartAustralia
  6. 6.Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research (CAWCR)CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric ResearchHobartAustralia

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