Publications


Evidence for H2 dissociation and recombination heat transport in the atmosphere of KELT-9b

Astrophysical Journal Letters American Astronomical Society 888 (2020) L15

M Mansfield, JL Bean, KB Stevenson, TD Komacek, TJ Bell, X Tan, M Malik, TG Beatty, I Wong, NB Cowan, L Dang, J-M Désert, JJ Fortney, BS Gaudi, D Keating, L Kreidberg, EM-R Kempton, V Parmentier, KG Stassun


Exoplanetary Monte Carlo radiative transfer with correlated-k I. Benchmarking transit and emission observables

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Oxford University Press 487 (2019) 2082-2096

G Lee, SL Grimm, J Taylor, J-L Baudino, R Garland, PGJ Irwin, K Wood

Current observational data of exoplanets are providing increasing detail of their 3D atmospheric structures. As characterisation efforts expand in scope, the need to develop consistent 3D radiative-transfer methods becomes more pertinent as the complex atmospheric properties of exoplanets are required to be modelled together consistently. We aim to compare the transmission and emission spectra results of a 3D Monte Carlo Radiative Transfer (MCRT) model to contemporary radiative-transfer suites. We perform several benchmarking tests of a MCRT code, Cloudy Monte Carlo Radiative Transfer (CMCRT), to transmission and emission spectra model output. We add flexibility to the model through the use of k-distribution tables as input opacities. We present a hybrid MCRT and ray tracing methodology for the calculation of transmission spectra with a multiple scattering component. CMCRT compares well to the transmission spectra benchmarks at the 10s of ppm level. Emission spectra benchmarks are consistent to within 10% of the 1D models. We suggest that differences in the benchmark results are likely caused by geometric effects between plane-parallel and spherical models. In a practical application, we post-process a cloudy 3DHD 189733b GCM model and compare to available observational data. Our results suggest the core methodology and algorithms of CMCRT produce consistent results to contemporary radiative transfer suites. 3D MCRT methods are highly suitable for detailed post-processing of cloudy and non-cloudy 1D and 3D exoplanet atmosphere simulations in instances where atmospheric inhomogeneities, significant limb effects/geometry or multiple scattering components are important considerations.


The atmospheric circulation of ultra-hot Jupiters

Astrophysical Journal American Astronomical Society 886 (2019) 1-20

X Tan, T Komacek


Forced summer stationary waves: the opposing effects of direct radiative forcing and sea surface warming

Climate Dynamics Springer Nature 53 (2019) 4291-4309

H Baker, T Woollings, C Mbengue, M Allen, C O'Reilly, H Shiogama, S Sparrow

We investigate the opposing effects of direct radiative forcing and sea surface warming on the atmospheric circulation using a hierarchy of models. In large ensembles of three general circulation models, direct CO2 forcing produces a wavenumber 5 stationary wave over the Northern Hemisphere in summer. Sea surface warming produces a similar wave, but with the opposite sign. The waves are also present in the Coupled Model Inter comparison Project phase 5 ensemble with opposite signs due to direct CO2 and sea surface warming. Analyses of tropical precipitation changes and equivalent potential temperature changes and the results from a simple barotropic model show that the wave is forced from the tropics. Key forcing locations are the Western Atlantic, Eastern Atlantic and in the Indian Ocean just off the east coast of Africa. The stationary wave has a significant impact on regional temperature anomalies in the Northern Hemisphere summer, explaining some of the direct effect that CO2 concentration has on temperature extremes. Ultimately, the climate sensitivity and future changes in the land-sea temperature contrast will dictate the balance between the opposing effects on regional changes in mean and extreme temperature and precipitation under climate change.


There is no Plan B for dealing with the climate crisis

BULLETIN OF THE ATOMIC SCIENTISTS 75 (2019) 215-221

R Pierrehumbert


Southern Hemisphere atmospheric blocking in CMIP5 and future changes in the Australia‐New Zealand sector

Geophysical Research Letters American Geophysical Union (AGU) (2019) 2019GL083264

M Patterson, T Bracegirdle, T Woollings


The eddy-driven jet and storm-track responses to boundary-layer drag: insights from an idealized dry GCM study

Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences American Meteorological Society 76 (2019) 1055–1076-

C Mbengue, T Woollings

Simulations using a dry, idealized general circulation model (GCM) are conducted to systematically investigate the eddy-driven jet’s sensitivity to the location of boundary-layer drag. Perturbations of boundary-layer drag solely within the baroclinic zone reproduce the eddy-driven jet responses to global drag variations. The implications for current theories of eddy-driven jet shifts are discussed. Hemispherically-asymmetric drag simulations in equinoctial and solstitial thermal conditions show that perturbations of surface drag in one hemisphere have negligible effects on the strength and latitude of the eddy-driven jet in the opposite hemisphere. Jet speed exhibits larger sensitivities to surface drag in perpetual winter simulations, while sensitivities in jet latitude are larger in perpetual summer simulations. Near-surface drag simulations with an Earth-like continental profile show how surface drag may facilitate tropical-extratropical teleconnections by modifying waveguides through changes in jet latitude. Longitudinally confined drag simulations demonstrate a novel mechanism for localizing storm tracks. A theoretical analysis is used to show that asymmetries in the Bernoulli function within the baroclinic zone are important for the eddy-driven jet latitude responses because they directly modulate the sensitivity of the zonal-mean zonal wind to drag in the boundarylayer momentum balance. The simulations contained herein provide a rich array of case studies against which to test current theories of eddy-driven jet and storm-track shifts; and the results affirm the importance of correct, well-constrained locations and intensities of boundary-layer drag in order to reduce jet and storm-track biases in climate and forecast models.


Assessing external and internal sources of Atlantic Multidecadal Variability using models, proxy data, and early instrumental indices

Journal of Climate American Meteorological Society 32 (2019) 7727-7745

T Woollings, L Zanna, C O'Reilly

Atlantic multidecadal variability (AMV) of sea surface temperature exhibits an important influence on the climate of surrounding continents. It remains unclear, however, the extent to which AMV is due to internal climate variability (e.g., ocean circulation variability) or changes in external forcing (e.g., volcanic/anthropogenic aerosols or greenhouse gases). Here, the sources of AMV are examined over a 340-yr period using proxy indices, instrumental data, and output from the Last Millennium Ensemble (LME) simulation. The proxy AMV closely follows the accumulated atmospheric forcing from the instrumental North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) reconstruction (r = 0.65)—an “internal” source of AMV. This result provides strong observational evidence that much of the AMV is generated through the oceanic response to atmospheric circulation forcing, as previously demonstrated in targeted modeling studies. In the LME there is a substantial externally forced AMV component, which exhibits a modest but significant correlation with the proxy AMV (i.e., r = 0.37), implying that at least 13% of the AMV is externally forced. In the LME simulations, however, the AMV response to accumulated NAO forcing is weaker than in the proxy/observational datasets. This weak response is possibly related to the decadal NAO variability, which is substantially weaker in the LME than in observations. The externally forced component in the proxy AMV is also related to the accumulated NAO forcing, unlike in the LME. This indicates that the external forcing is likely influencing the AMV through different mechanistic pathways: via changes in radiative forcing in the LME and via changes in atmospheric circulation in the observational/proxy record.


Disentangling dynamic contributions to summer 2018 anomalous weather over Europe

Geophysical Research Letters American Geophysical Union (2019)

M Drouard, K Kornhuber, T Woollings

Summer 2018 was one of the driest and hottest experienced over northwestern Europe. In contrast, over southern Europe, it was marked by cooler and wetter conditions with flooding over Greece and Spain. This contrasting pattern was particularly enhanced over a 3‐week period starting on 21 June. Two atmospheric patterns are thought to have largely contributed to this anomalous weather: the positive North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO+) and a Wave‐7 pattern. Using linear regressions on detrended data, we show that the NAO+ was mainly responsible for the observed seasonal anomalies. However, during the 3‐week period, the rare combination of the NAO+ and Wave‐7 is necessary to explain the pattern of the observed anomalies. The global warming trend and, to a lesser extent, nonlinear processes are shown to have furthermore strongly modulated the anomalies associated with these two patterns.


Atmospheric Variability Driven by Radiative Cloud Feedback in Brown Dwarfs and Directly Imaged Extrasolar Giant Planets

Astrophysical Journal American Astronomical Society 874 (2019)

X Tan, AP Showman

Growing observational evidence has suggested active meteorology in the atmospheres of brown dwarfs (BDs) and directly imaged extrasolar giant planets (EGPs). In particular, a number of surveys have shown that near-infrared brightness variability is common among L and T dwarfs. Despite the likelihood from previous studies that atmospheric dynamics is the major cause of the variability, the detailed mechanism of the variability remains elusive, and we need to seek a natural, self-consistent mechanism. Clouds are important in shaping the thermal structure and spectral properties of these atmospheres via their opacity, and we expect the same for inducing atmospheric variability. In this work, using a time-dependent one-dimensional model that incorporates a self-consistent coupling between the thermal structure, convective mixing, cloud radiative heating/cooling, and condensation/evaporation of clouds, we show that radiative cloud feedback can drive spontaneous atmospheric variability in both temperature and cloud structure under conditions appropriate for BDs and directly imaged EGPs. The typical periods of variability are 1 to tens of hr, with a typical amplitude of the variability up to hundreds of K in effective temperature. The existence of variability is robust over a wide range of parameter space, but the detailed evolution of the variability is sensitive to model parameters. Our novel, self-consistent mechanism has important implications for the observed flux variability of BDs and directly imaged EGPs, especially for objects whose variability evolves on short timescales. It is also a promising mechanism for cloud breaking, which has been proposed to explain the L/T transition of BDs.


Atmospheric circulation of brown dwarfs and Jupiter- and Saturn-like planets: Zonal jets, long-term variability, and QBO-type oscillations

Astrophysical Journal American Astronomical Society 883 (2019)

AP Showman, X Tan, X Zhang

Brown dwarfs and directly imaged giant planets exhibit significant evidence for active atmospheric circulation, which induces a large-scale patchiness in the cloud structure that evolves significantly over time, as evidenced by infrared light curves and Doppler maps. These observations raise critical questions about the fundamental nature of the circulation, its time variability, and its overall relationship to the circulation on Jupiter and Saturn. Jupiter and Saturn themselves exhibit numerous robust zonal (east–west) jet streams at the cloud level; moreover, both planets exhibit long-term stratospheric oscillations involving perturbations of zonal wind and temperature that propagate downward over time on timescales of ~4 yr (Jupiter) and ~15 yr (Saturn). These oscillations, dubbed the quasi-quadrennial oscillation (QQO) for Jupiter and the semiannual oscillation (SAO) on Saturn, are thought to be analogous to the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) on Earth, which is driven by upward propagation of equatorial waves from the troposphere. To investigate these issues, we here present global, three-dimensional, high-resolution numerical simulations of the flow in the stratified atmosphere—overlying the convective interior—of brown dwarfs and Jupiter-like planets. The effect of interior convection is parameterized by inducing small-scale, randomly varying perturbations in the radiative–convective boundary at the base of the model. Radiative damping is represented using an idealized Newtonian cooling scheme. In the simulations, the convective perturbations generate atmospheric waves and turbulence that interact with the rotation to produce numerous zonal jets. Moreover, the equatorial stratosphere exhibits stacked eastward and westward jets that migrate downward over time, exactly as occurs in the terrestrial QBO, Jovian QQO, and Saturnian SAO. This is the first demonstration of a QBO-like phenomenon in 3D numerical simulations of a giant planet.


How confident are predictability estimates of the winter North Atlantic Oscillation?

Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society Wiley 145 (2018) 140-159

A Weisheimer, D Decremer, D Macleod, C O’Reilly, TN Stockdale, S Johnson, T Palmer

Atmospheric seasonal predictability in winter over the Euro-Atlantic region is studied with an emphasis on the signal-to-noise paradox of the North Atlantic Oscillation. Seasonal hindcasts of the ECMWF model for the recent period 1981-2009 show, in agreement with other studies, that correlation skill over Greenland and parts of the Arctic is higher than the signal-to-noise ratio implies. This leads to the paradoxical situation where the real world appears more predictable than the models suggest, with the forecast ensembles being overly dispersive (or underconfident). However, it is demonstrated that these conclusions are not supported by the diagnosed relationship between ensemble mean RMSE and ensemble spread which indicates a slight underdispersion (overconfidence). Furthermore, long atmospheric seasonal hindcasts suggest that over the 110-year period from 1900 to 2009 the ensemble system is well calibrated (neither over- nor underdispersive). The observed skill changed drastically in the middle of the 20th Century and paradoxical regions during more recent hindcast periods were strongly underdispersive during mid-Century decades. <br/><br/> Due to non-stationarities of the climate system in the form of decadal variability, relatively short hindcasts are not sufficiently representative for longer-term behaviour. In addition, small hindcast sample size can lead to skill estimates, in particular of correlation measures, that are not robust. It is shown that the relative uncertainty due to small hindcast sample size is often larger for correlation-based than for RMSE-based diagnostics. Correlation-based measures like the RPC are shown to be highly sensitive to the strength of the predictable signal, implying that disentangling of physical deficiencies in the models on the one hand, and the effects of sampling uncertainty on the other hand, is difficult. Given the current lack of a causal physical mechanism to unravel the puzzle, our hypotheses of non-stationarity and sampling uncertainty provide simple yet plausible explanations for the paradox.


The linear sensitivity of the North Atlantic Oscillation and eddy-driven jet to SSTs

Journal of Climate American Meteorological Society 32 (2019) 6491-6511

H Baker, T Woollings, CE Forest, M Allen

The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and eddy-driven jet contain a forced component arising from sea surface temperature (SST) variations. Due to large amounts of internal variability, it is not trivial to determine where and to what extent SSTs force the NAO and jet. A linear statistical-dynamic method is employed with a large climate ensemble to compute the sensitivities of the winter and summer NAO and jet speed and latitude to the SSTs. Key regions of sensitivity are identified in the Indian and Pacific basins, and the North Atlantic tripole. Using the sensitivity maps and a long observational SST dataset, skilful reconstructions of the NAO and jet time series are made. The ability to skilfully forecast both the winter and summer NAO using only SST anomalies is also demonstrated. The linear approach used here allows precise attribution of model forecast signals to SSTs in particular regions. Skill comes from the Atlantic and Pacific basins on short lead times, whilst the Indian Ocean SSTs may contribute to the longer term NAO trend. However, despite the region of high sensitivity in the Indian Ocean, SSTs here do not provide significant skill on interannual timescales which highlights the limitations of the imposed SST approach. Given the impact of the NAO and jet on Northern Hemisphere weather and climate, these results provide useful information that could be used for improved attribution and forecasting.


Seasonal predictability of the winter North Atlantic Oscillation from a jet stream perspective

Geophysical Research Letters Wiley 46 (2019) 10159-10167

T Parker, T Woollings, A Weisheimer, C O'Reilly, L Baker, L Shaffrey

The winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) has varied on interannual and decadal timescales over the last century, associated with variations in the speed and latitude of the eddy driven jet stream. This paper uses hindcasts from two operational seasonal forecast sys tems (the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF)’s seasonal forecast system, and the UK Met Office global seasonal forecast system) and a century long atmosphere-only experiment (using the ECMWF’s Integrated Forecasting System model) to relate seasonal prediction skill in the NAO to these aspects of jet variability. This shows that the NAO skill realised so far arises from interannual variations in the jet, largely associated with its latitude rather than speed. There likely remains further potential for predictability on longer, decadal timescales. In the small sample of mod els analysed here, improved representation of the structure of jet variability does not trans late to enhanced seasonal forecast skill.


An interdecadal shift of the extratropical teleconnection from the tropical Pacific during boreal summer

Geophysical Research Letters American Geophysical Union (2019)

C O'Reilly, T Woollings, L Zanna, A Weisheimer

The extratropical teleconnection from the tropical Pacific in boreal summer exhibits a significant shift over the past 70 years. Cyclonic circulation anomalies over the North Atlantic and Eurasia associated with El Niño in the later period (1978‐2014) are absent in the earlier period (1948‐1977). An initialised atmospheric model ensemble, performed with prescribed sea surface temperature (SST) boundary conditions, replicates some key features of the shift in the teleconnection, providing clear evidence that this shift is not simply due to internal atmospheric variability or random sampling. Additional ensemble simulations, one with detrended tropical SSTs and another with constant external forcing are analysed. In the model, the teleconnection shift is associated with climatological atmospheric circulation changes, which are substantially reduced in the simulation with detrended tropical SSTs. These results demonstrate that the climatological atmospheric circulation and associated teleconnection changes are largely forced by tropical SST trends.


Climate impacts of cultured meat and beef cattle

Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems Frontiers Media 3 (2019) 5

J Lynch, R Pierrehumbert

Improved greenhouse gas (GHG) emission efficiency of production has been proposed as one of the biggest potential advantages of cultured meat over conventional livestock production systems. Comparisons with beef are typically highlighted, as it is a highly emissions intensive food product. In this study, we present a more rigorous comparison of the potential climate impacts of cultured meat and cattle production than has previously been made. Warming impacts are evaluated using a simple climate model that simulates the different behaviors of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), rather than relying on carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) metrics. We compare the temperature impact of beef cattle and cultured meat production at all times to 1,000 years in the future, using four synthetic meat GHG footprints currently available in the literature and three different beef production systems studied in an earlier climate modeling paper. Cattle systems are associated with the production of all three GHGs above, including significant emissions of CH4, while cultured meat emissions are almost entirely CO2 from energy generation. Under continuous high global consumption, cultured meat results in less warming than cattle initially, but this gap narrows in the long term and in some cases cattle production causes far less warming, as CH4 emissions do not accumulate, unlike CO2. We then model a decline in meat consumption to more sustainable levels following high consumption, and show that although cattle systems generally result in greater peak warming than cultured meat, the warming effect declines and stabilizes under the new emission rates of cattle systems, while the CO2 based warming from cultured meat persists and accumulates even under reduced consumption, again overtaking cattle production in some scenarios. We conclude that cultured meat is not prima facie climatically superior to cattle; its relative impact instead depends on the availability of decarbonized energy generation and the specific production systems that are realized.


Exonephology: transmission spectra from a 3D simulated cloudy atmosphere of HD 209458b

MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY 481 (2018) 194-205

S Lines, J Manners, NJ Mayne, J Goyal, AL Carter, IA Boutle, GKH Lee, C Helling, B Drummond, DM Acreman, DK Sing


Contrasting mechanisms of summer blocking over western Eurasia

Geophysical Research Letters Wiley 45 (2018) 12,040-12,048

M Drouard, T Woollings

The formation of summer blocking events appears to have been mostly studied for a few individual events often associated with heat waves. Here we investigate summer blocking event dynamics in three areas over western Eurasia in order to draw some more general conclusions, mostly in terms of high‐ and low‐frequency processes. A 2‐D blocking event detection algorithm is applied to the 500‐hPa‐geopotential field from the ERA‐40 and ERA‐Interim reanalyses over the 1958–2017 period. It is shown that both high‐ and low‐frequency processes are important to initiate blocking events over southern central Europe. Blocking events over western Russia are preceded by a significant low‐frequency large‐scale wave train, and their formation and maintenance are dominated by low‐frequency processes only. Finally, it is shown that the risk of extreme seasons such as summer 2010 cannot be accurately estimated from the Poisson statistics of past events.


Global or local pure-condensible atmospheres: Importance of horizontal latent heat transport

Astrophysical Journal Institute of Physics Publishing, Inc 867 (2018)

F Ding, RT Pierrehumbert


Wave-mean flow interactions in the atmospheric circulation of tidally locked planets

Astrophysical Journal IOP Publishing 869 (2018)

M Hammond, R Pierrehumbert

We use a linear shallow-water model to investigate the global circulation of the atmospheres of tidally locked planets. Simulations, observations, and simple models show that if these planets are sufficiently rapidly rotating, their atmospheres have an eastward equatorial jet and a hot-spot east of the substellar point. We linearize the shallow-water model about this eastward flow and its associated geostrophic height perturbation. The forced solutions of this system show that the shear flow explains the form of the global circulation, particularly the hot-spot shift and the positions of the cold standing waves on the night-side. We suggest that the eastward hot-spot shift in observations and 3D simulations of these atmospheres is caused by the zonal flow Doppler-shifting the stationary wave response eastwards, summed with the geostrophic height perturbation from the flow itself. This differs from other studies which explained the hot-spot shift as pure advection of heat from air flowing eastward from the substellar point, or as equatorial waves travelling eastwards. We compare our solutions to simulations in our climate model Exo-FMS and show that they matched the position of the eastward-shifted hot-spot, and the global wind pattern. We discuss how planetary properties affect the global circulation, and how they change observables such as the hot-spot shift or day-night contrast. We conclude that the wave-mean flow interaction be tween the stationary planetary waves and the equatorial jet is a vital part of the equilibrium circulation on tidally locked planets.

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