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Climate Variability and Predictability/Tropical Atlantic Variability

1 January 2002
Climate variability in the tropical Atlantic region and the land that surrounds it represent a difficult problem in terms of large-scale circulation and ocean-atmosphere-land interactions, with important economic and social impacts. During recent decades, researchers have observed a large multi-decadal swing in the Atlantic climate and believe it's caused by interactions between the Atlantic Ocean and the overlaying atmosphere. These climate swings are related to the tropical Atlantic region where surface temperature variability and the associated changes in winds, sea level pressure, intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), and the Hadley circulation occur on interannual to decadal time scales. These covariant fluctuations are collectively called Tropical Atlantic Variability (TAV). To address the science underlying the TAV and expand and coordinate international observational programs towards a sustained observing system, a meeting was held in Miami, May 4 -7, 1999. As a follow up to this meeting and following one of its recommendations, the CLIVAR Workshop on Tropical Atlantic Variability took place at UNESCO, Paris, September 3 -6, 2001. The main objectives of the Paris workshop were to 1) review advances in science since the Miami workshop and 2) coordinate international efforts toward a sustained observing system to understand, model, and predict TAV. At the conclusion of the workshop, a summary of the activities as well as the working group recommendations were presented to the international CLIVAR Atlantic Implementation Panel to create an implementation plan for tropical Atlantic research. This special issue of Geophysical Research Letters includes a compilation of papers presented during the poster sessions of the workshop and provide the foundation for the recommendations forwarded to CLIVAR.

Aviation Climate Impacts

28 November 2013

GRL papers analyzing the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project- Phase 5 (CMIP5)

Last updated:
10 July 2015
Phase 5 of The Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (“CMIP5”) is the most recent in a series of international co-ordinated global climate model experiments. In addition to several hundred papers in the peer-review literature, CMIP5 provided the backbone for much of the climate model information in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). Many of the papers in the literature and in the IPCC have been published in GRL. This collection represents a subset of the papers in GRL that have influenced the community since the CMIP5 data became available to the community.

The ongoing California Drought of 2012-2015: A testbed for understanding regional climate extremes in a warming world

1 January 2015

The state of California has experienced the worst meteorological drought in its historical record during 2012-2015. The adverse effects of this multi-year event have been far from uniformly distributed across the region, ranging from remarkably mild in most of California's densely-populated coastal cities to very severe in more rural, agricultural, and wildfire-prone regions. This duality of impacts has created a tale of two very different California droughts—highlighting enhanced susceptibility to climate stresses at the environmental and socioeconomic margins of California. From a geophysical perspective, the persistence of related atmospheric anomalies have raised a number of questions regarding the drought's origins—including the role of anthropogenic climate change. Recent investigations underscore the importance of understanding the underlying physical causes of extremes in the climate system, and the present California drought represents an excellent case study for such endeavors. Meanwhile, a powerful El Niño event in the Pacific Ocean offers the simultaneous prospect of partial drought relief but also an increased risk of flooding during the 2015-2016 winter—a situation illustrative of the complex hydroclimatic risks California and other regions are likely to face in a warming world.

This collection brings together papers published in Geophysical Research Letters on the 2012-2015 California drought.

Climatic Effects of the Eruption of El Chichon

1 November 1983
On March 28, April 3, and April 4, 1982, eruptions of the Mexican volcano El Chichon introduced gaseous and particulate matter into the stratosphere. It was quickly recognized as one of the most massive clouds of the last 100 years. This special section provides background information on the nature and importance of the El Chichon volcanic cloud.


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Featured Special Collection

A Census of Atmospheric Variability from Seconds to Decades 

The atmosphere varies naturally on all length scales from millimeters to thousands of kilometers, and on all time scales from seconds to decades and longer.  This special collection of Geophysical Research Letters synthesizes and summarizes that variability through a phenomenological census.  The collection brings together some of the most influential and definitive papers to have been published in this journal in recent years.  The topics covered include turbulence on time scales of seconds and minutes, gravity waves on time scales of hours, weather systems on time scales of days, atmospheric blocking on time scales of weeks, the Madden–Julian Oscillation on time scales of months, the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation and El Niño–Southern Oscillation on time scales of years, and the North Atlantic, Arctic, Antarctic, Pacific Decadal, and Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillations on time scales of decades.  The collection is accompanied by a Commentary article, which provides an authoritative, concise, and accessible point of reference for the most important modes of atmospheric variability.

A Census of Atmospheric Variability from Seconds to Decades