Changes in surface climate of the tropical Pacific

Changes in surface climate of
the tropical Pacific
Based on…….
Outline and key messages
• Main features of region’s climate system
• We are affecting the climate system - climate is
already changing
• Future will be warmer
• Extreme weather likely to be more extreme
Our climate will be changing for foreseeable future
Main climate features of the region
Pacific atmospheric circulation
• Trade winds
• Convergence zones
• Walker and Hadley circulations
Sea surface temperature
El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)
• Major source year-to-year climate variations
Typical El Niño and La Niña rainfall anomalies
Wetter (green) or drier (orange)
Typical El Niño and La Niña rainfall
Annual rainfall - Apia
Effects of El Niño and La Niña on SST
Warmer (red) or cooler (blue)
ENSO shifts SPCZ and tropical cyclones
El Niño
• Further north El Niño
• Further south La Niña
• Fewer cyclones and they are further
east El Niño
• More cyclones and they are further
west La Niña
La Niña
Projected changes in climate
Redistributing sun’s energy = climate system
Global annual mean energy budget W m-2
Trenberth et al 2009
• Without the atmosphere the Earth would be ~30oC cooler
• More greenhouse gases trap more energy in climate system
Why are climate scientists so sure climate is
changing due to human activities?
• Theory
• Modelling
• Evidence:
 instrumental measurements
 changes in the physical world
 changes in the biological world
 paleoclimate archives
The climate system appears to be changing faster
than earlier thought likely
Steffen 2009
Measured increase in carbon dioxide
18th century = 280ppm
air bubbles in ice cores
2011= 391ppm
Mauna Loa
Observed warming of global temperatures
Projecting future climates
Low (B1)
450-500 ppm CO2
High (A2)
750-800 ppm CO2
Temperature (oC)
1.0-1.5 5-15% 10-20% 10-20%
0.5-1.0 1.0-1.5 2.5-3.0
5-20% 10-20% 10-20%
• Predicting future forcing – how much more greenhouse
• Range of possible futures but the future will be WARMER
Spatial variation in warming
Spatial variation in rainfall
The answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is
caused by climate change is that it is the wrong question
All weather events are affected by climate change because the
environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it
used to be
Trenberth 2012
Preparing for TC Jasmine Vanuatu
Important points to note
• Extremes will become more extreme
• Unclear how ENSO will change – continued
•Not just a ‘new climate’ to which we can adapt…….
For foreseeable future, climate will be CHANGING