Future Antarctic Climate: Storylines of mid-latitude jet strengthening and shift emergent from CMIP6

A main source of regional climate change uncertainty is the large disparity across models in simulating the atmospheric circulation response to global warming. Using the latest suite of global climate models from the sixth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6), a storyline approach is adopted to derive physically plausible scenarios of Antarctic climate change for 2070-2099, according to Shared Socioeconomic Pathway SSP5-8.5. These storylines correspond to differences in the simulated amount of seasonal sea ice loss and either (a) the delay in the summertime stratospheric polar vortex (SPV) breakdown or (b) wintertime SPV strengthening, which together constitute robust drivers of the response pattern to future climate change. Such changes combined are known to exert a strong control over the Southern Hemisphere mid-latitude jet stream, which we quantify as collectively explaining up to 70% of the variance in jet response in summer and 35% in winter. For summer, the expected strengthening and displacement of the tropospheric jet stream varies between a ∼1 and 2 m s−1 increase and ∼2 to 4° poleward shift respectively across storylines. In both seasons, a larger strengthening of the jet is correlated with less Antarctic warming. By contrast, the response in precipitation is more consistent but still strongly attenuated by large-scale dynamics. We find that an increase in high-latitude precipitation around Antarctica is more pronounced for storylines characterized by a greater poleward jet shift, particularly in summer. Our results highlight the usefulness of the storyline approach in illustrating model uncertainty and understanding the processes that determine the spread in projected Antarctic regional climate response.


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Authors: Williams, Ryan S. ORCIDORCID record for Ryan S. Williams, Marshall, Gareth J. ORCIDORCID record for Gareth J. Marshall, Levine, Xavier, Graff, Lise S., Handorf, Dörthe, Johnston, Nadine M., Karpechko, Alexey Y., Orr, Andrew ORCIDORCID record for Andrew Orr, Van de Berg, Willem J., Wijngaard, René R., Mooney, Priscilla A.

On this site: Andrew Orr, Gareth Marshall, Nadine Johnston, Ryan Williams
1 April, 2024
Journal of Climate
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