Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Model Helps Scientists Home In On Tropical Climate Controls

Date:
May 22, 2003
Source:
University Of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
With the help of a sophisticated computer model, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have shown that vast atmospheric "bridges" and oceanic "tunnels," created by overturning air and water, link the high latitudes to the tropics and can warm ocean temperature near the equator.

MADISON - It has long been known that tropical climate - by redistributing vast amounts of solar energy through welling hot air and the formation of towering cumulous clouds - influences weather in other parts of the world.

Related Articles


It remains unclear, however, how much the tropics can be affected by higher latitudes. Now, with the help of a sophisticated computer model, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have shown that vast atmospheric "bridges" and oceanic "tunnels," created by overturning air and water, link the high latitudes to the tropics and can warm ocean temperature near the equator.

The finding, reported in the May 13 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters, has implications for better understanding global and regional climate change, and is the first to identify high-latitude phenomena that significantly influence climate in the equatorial regions of the world.

The prevailing wisdom, according to Zhengyu Liu, lead author of the paper and director of UW-Madison's Center for Climatic Research, was that climate and weather phenomena at higher latitudes tended to be static, with no far-reaching influence.

"That was the conventional thinking," he says. "But our model shows that these phenomena are equally weighted, that climate and weather at higher latitudes have as much of an influence on the tropics as tropical weather and climate influence the higher latitudes. Both are very important."

The discovery reveals a hidden climate mechanism that may be of critical importance to studies of past and future global and regional climate change, says Liu.

According to the scenario depicted by the modeling experiments conducted by Liu and colleague Haijun Yang, the heat carried via the atmospheric bridges from the tropics to higher latitudes is reduced as a result of warming climate in the higher latitudes. At the same time, warm extratropical water is funneled into the subsurface oceanic tunnels and is carried to the equator where it upwells and warms the tropical ocean.

The study suggests that even a 2-degree Celsius warming of the ocean in regions beyond the tropics can raise ocean surface and subsurface temperatures in the tropics by as much as 1 degree Celsius as less warm air flows out of the tropics and warm, extratropical water is channeled toward the equator by the oceanic tunnels depicted in the study.

"That is a significant change" in temperature, says Liu. "It is fundamentally important."

The new study, says Liu, provides a missing piece of the climate puzzle. It will enable scientists to gain more insight into climate and climate change as an unknown mechanism is revealed and added to the mix of variables that researchers must grasp as they wrestle with the hugely complex problem of understanding and forecasting climate change.

"The magnitude of this influence and the relative contributions of the atmospheric bridge and oceanic tunnel have remained uncertain," Liu says. "But we have found that the extratropics exert a strong control on tropical climate. This is our first estimate of the extratropical influence on the tropics."

The Center for Climatic Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a leading center of research into world climate. It is a part of the UW-Madison Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Wisconsin-Madison. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Wisconsin-Madison. "Model Helps Scientists Home In On Tropical Climate Controls." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030522082423.htm>.
University Of Wisconsin-Madison. (2003, May 22). Model Helps Scientists Home In On Tropical Climate Controls. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030522082423.htm
University Of Wisconsin-Madison. "Model Helps Scientists Home In On Tropical Climate Controls." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030522082423.htm (accessed March 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

AP (Feb. 28, 2015) Researchers following endangered killer whales spotted a baby orca off the coast of Washington state, the third birth documented this winter but still leaving the population dangerously low. (Feb. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bridge Collapses Due to Flooding in Bolivia

Bridge Collapses Due to Flooding in Bolivia

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 28, 2015) Heavy rain and flooding sweep through parts of Bolivia causing damage and leaves more than 2,000 people homeless. Sophia Soo reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

AFP (Feb. 27, 2015) More than 200 people have been killed in a series of avalanches triggered by heavy snowfall in Afghanistan. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
France, Philippines Call for Agreement on Climate Change

France, Philippines Call for Agreement on Climate Change

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 27, 2015) The presidents of France and the Philippines issue a joint appeal for a binding agreement on climate change. Katie Sargent reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins