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Responses of the Tropical Atmospheric Circulation to Climate Change and Connection to the Hydrological Cycle

Authors
  • Ma, Jian
  • Chadwick, Robin
  • Seo, Kyong-Hwan
  • Dong, Changming
  • Huang, Gang
  • Foltz, Gregory R.
  • Jiang, Jonathan H.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Publisher
Annual Reviews
Publication Date
May 30, 2018
Volume
46
Pages
549–580
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1146/annurev-earth-082517-010102
Source
Annual Reviews
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

This review describes the climate change–induced responses of the tropical atmospheric circulation and their impacts on the hydrological cycle. We depict the theoretically predicted changes and diagnose physical mechanisms for observational and model-projected trends in large-scale and regional climate. The tropical circulation slows down with moisture and stratification changes, connecting to a poleward expansion of the Hadley cells and a shift of the intertropical convergence zone. Redistributions of regional precipitation consist of thermodynamic and dynamical components, including a strong offset between moisture increase and circulation weakening throughout the tropics. This allows other dynamical processes to dominate local circulation changes, such as a surface warming pattern effect over oceans and multiple mechanisms over land. To improve reliability in climate projections, more fundamental understandings of pattern formation, circulation change, and the balance of various processes redistributing land rainfall are suggested to be important.

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