The Atmosphere is a Dynamic System, Always Adjusting, Changing

Liu, B. & Zhou, T. Atmospheric footprint of the recent warming slowdown. Sci. Rep. 7, 40947 (2017).

Growing body of literature has developed to detect the role of ocean heat uptake and transport in the recent warming slowdown between 1998–2013; however, the atmospheric footprint of the slowdown in dynamical and physical processes remains unclear. Here, we divided recent decades into the recent hiatus period and the preceding warming period (1983–1998) to investigate the atmospheric footprint. We use a process-resolving analysis method to quantify the contributions of different processes to the total temperature changes. We show that the increasing rate of global mean tropospheric temperature was also reduced during the hiatus period. The decomposed trends due to physical processes, including surface albedo, water vapour, cloud, surface turbulent fluxes and atmospheric dynamics, reversed the patterns between the two periods. The changes in atmospheric heat transport are coupled with changes in the surface latent heat flux across the lower troposphere (below approximately 800 hPa) and with cloud-related processes in the upper troposphere (above approximately 600 hPa) and were underpinned by strengthening/weakening Hadley Circulation and Walker Circulation during the warming/hiatus period. This dynamical coupling experienced a phase transition between the two periods, reminding us of the importance of understanding the atmospheric footprint, which constitutes an essential part of internal climate variability.

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