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Aaron Donohoe

Senior Research Scientist





Department Affiliation

Polar Science Center


B.A. Physics, Bowdoin College, 2003

Ph.D. Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, 2011


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Twentieth century correlations between extratropical SST variability and ITCZ shifts

Green, B., J. Marshall, and A. Donohoe, "Twentieth century correlations between extratropical SST variability and ITCZ shifts," Geophys. Res. Letts., 44, 9039-9047, doi:10.1002/2017GL075044, 2017.

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16 Sep 2017

The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) is a global-scale band of tropical precipitation lying, in the annual mean, just north of the equator. Its position can be tied to the atmosphere's energy balance: the Northern Hemisphere is heated more strongly than the Southern Hemisphere, biasing the atmosphere's circulation and ITCZ north of the equator. In the context of this energy balance framework, we examine multidecadal connections between variations in the position of the global ITCZ and indices of extratropical sea surface temperature (SST) variability over the twentieth century. We find that the ITCZ and atmospheric circulation are shifted farther to the north during periods when North Atlantic and North Pacific SSTs are anomalously warm. Additionally, a warmer North Atlantic is correlated with a relatively warm Northern Hemisphere atmosphere. Our results suggest an important role for the ocean circulation in modulating ITCZ migrations on decade-and-longer timescales.

Tropical precipitation and cross-equatorial ocean heat transport during the mid-Holocene

Liu, X., D.S. Battisti, A. Donohoe, "Tropical precipitation and cross-equatorial ocean heat transport during the mid-Holocene," J. Clim., 30, 3529-3547, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0502.1, 2017.

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1 May 2017

Summertime insolation intensified in the Northern Hemisphere during the mid-Holocene, resulting in enhanced monsoonal precipitation. In this study, the authors examine the changes in the annual-mean tropical precipitation as well as changes in atmospheric circulation and upper-ocean circulation in the mid-Holocene compared to the preindustrial climate, as simulated by 12 coupled climate models from PMIP3. In addition to the predominant zonally asymmetric changes in tropical precipitation, there is a small northward shift in the location of intense zonal-mean precipitation (mean ITCZ) in the mid-Holocene in the majority (9 out of 12) of the coupled climate models. In contrast, the shift is southward in simulations using an atmospheric model coupled to a slab ocean. The northward mean ITCZ shift in the coupled simulations is due to enhanced northward ocean heat transport across the equator [OHT(EQ)], which demands a compensating southward atmospheric energy transport across the equator, accomplished by shifting the Hadley cell and hence the mean ITCZ northward. The increased northward OHT(EQ) is primarily accomplished by changes in the upper-ocean gyre circulation in the tropical Pacific acting on the zonally asymmetric climatological temperature distribution. The gyre intensification results from the intensification of the monsoonal winds in the Northern Hemisphere and the weakening of the winds in the Southern Hemisphere, both of which are forced directly by the insolation changes.

A mathematical framework for analysis of water tracers. Part II: Understanding large-scale perturbations in the hydrological cycle due to CO2 doubling

Singh, H.K.A., C. Bitz, A. Donohoe, J. Nussbaumer, and D.C. Noone "A mathematical framework for analysis of water tracers. Part II: Understanding large-scale perturbations in the hydrological cycle due to CO2 doubling," J. Clim., 29, 6765-6782, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0293.1, 2016.

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1 Sep 2016

The aerial hydrological cycle response to CO2 doubling from a Lagrangian, rather than Eulerian, perspective is evaluated using information from numerical water tracers implemented in a global climate model. While increased surface evaporation (both local and remote) increases precipitation globally, changes in transport are necessary to create a spatial pattern where precipitation decreases in the subtropics and increases substantially at the equator. Overall, changes in the convergence of remotely evaporated moisture are more important to the overall precipitation change than changes in the amount of locally evaporated moisture that precipitates in situ. It is found that CO2 doubling increases the fraction of locally evaporated moisture that is exported, enhances moisture exchange between ocean basins, and shifts moisture convergence within a given basin toward greater distances between moisture source (evaporation) and sink (precipitation) regions. These changes can be understood in terms of the increased residence time of water in the atmosphere with CO2 doubling, which corresponds to an increase in the advective length scale of moisture transport. As a result, the distance between where moisture evaporates and where it precipitates increases. Analyses of several heuristic models further support this finding.

More Publications

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center