Trends in Southern Hemisphere circulation in IPCC AR4 models over 1950-99: Ozone depletion versus greenhouse forcing

Wenju Cai*, Tim Cowan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Simulations by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report ( AR4) models on the Southern Hemisphere ( SH) circulation are assessed over the period 1950 - 99, focusing on the seasonality of the trend and the level of its congruency with the southern annular mode ( SAM) in terms of surface zonal wind stress. It is found that, as a group, the models realistically produce the seasonality of the trend, which is strongest in the SH summer season, December - February ( DJF). The modeled DJF trend is principally congruent with the modeled SAM trend, as in observations. The majority of models produce a statistically significant positive trend, with decreasing westerlies in the midlatitudes and increasing westerlies in the high latitudes. The trend pattern from an all-experiment mean achieves highest correlation with that from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction ( NCEP) data. A total of 48 out of the 71 experiments were run with ozone-depletion forcing, which offers an opportunity to assess the importance of ozone depletion in driving the late-twentieth-century trends. The AR4 model ensemble that contains an ozone- depletion forcing produces an averaged trend that is comparable to the trend from the NCEP outputs corrected by station- based observations. The trend is largely generated after the mid- 1970s. Without ozone depletion the trend is less than half of that in the corrected NCEP, although the errors in the observed trend are large. The impact on oceanic circulation is inferred from wind stress curl in the group with ozone- depletion forcing. The result shows an intensification of the southern midlatitude supergyre circulation, including a strengthening East Australian Current flowing through the Tasman Sea. Thus, ozone depletion also plays an important role in the subtropical gyre circulation change over the past decades.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-693
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


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