Current Climate Change Reports

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 371–382 | Cite as

The Response of Subtropical Highs to Climate Change

  • Annalisa CherchiEmail author
  • Tercio Ambrizzi
  • Swadhin Behera
  • Ana Carolina Vasques Freitas
  • Yushi Morioka
  • Tianjun Zhou
Climate Change and Atmospheric Circulation (R Chadwick, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Climate Change and Atmospheric Circulation


Purpose of Review

Subtropical highs are an important component of the climate system with clear implications on the local climate regimes of the subtropical regions. In a climate change perspective, understanding and predicting subtropical highs and related climate is crucial to local societies for climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. We review the current understanding of the subtropical highs in the framework of climate change.

Recent Findings

Projected changes of subtropical highs are not uniform. Intensification, weakening, and shifts may largely differ in the two hemispheres but may also change across different ocean basins. For some regions, large inter-model spread representation of subtropical highs and related dynamics is largely responsible for the uncertainties in the projections. The understanding and evaluation of the projected changes may also depend on the metrics considered and may require investigations separating thermodynamical and dynamical processes.


The dynamics of subtropical highs has a well-established theoretical background but the understanding of its variability and change is still affected by large uncertainties. Climate model systematic errors, low-frequency chaotic variability, coupled ocean-atmosphere processes, and sensitivity to climate forcing are all sources of uncertainty that reduce the confidence in atmospheric circulation aspects of climate change, including the subtropical highs. Compensating signals, coming from a tug-of-war between components associated with direct carbon dioxide radiative forcing and indirect sea surface temperature warming, impose limits that must be considered.


Subtropical highs Climate projections Atmospheric circulation Model biases 



We are grateful to the two anonymous reviewers whose comments helped in improving the shape and content of the manuscript. A special thank is due to Dr. X Chen for the help in redrawing Fig. 1 using CMIP5 model results.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fondazione Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti ClimaticiIstituto Nazionale di Geofisica e VulcanologiaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.University of São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  3. 3.Application LaboratoryJapan Agency for Marine Earth Science and TechnologyYokohamaJapan
  4. 4.Federal University of Itajubá (UNIFEI)ItabiraBrazil
  5. 5.Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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