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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

The effect of atmospheric transmissivity on model and observational estimates of the sea ice albedo feedback

Donohoe, A., E. Blanchard-Wrigglesworth, A. Schweiger, and P.J. Rasch, "The effect of atmospheric transmissivity on model and observational estimates of the sea ice albedo feedback," J. Climate, 33, 5743-5765, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0674.1, 2020.

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1 Jul 2020

The sea ice-albedo feedback (SIAF) is the product of the ice sensitivity (IS), that is, how much the surface albedo in sea ice regions changes as the planet warms, and the radiative sensitivity (RS), that is, how much the top-of-atmosphere radiation changes as the surface albedo changes. We demonstrate that the RS calculated from radiative kernels in climate models is reproduced from calculations using the “approximate partial radiative perturbation” method that uses the climatological radiative fluxes at the top of the atmosphere and the assumption that the atmosphere is isotropic to shortwave radiation. This method facilitates the comparison of RS from satellite-based estimates of climatological radiative fluxes with RS estimates across a full suite of coupled climate models and, thus, allows model evaluation of a quantity important in characterizing the climate impact of sea ice concentration changes. The satellite-based RS is within the model range of RS that differs by a factor of 2 across climate models in both the Arctic and Southern Ocean. Observed trends in Arctic sea ice are used to estimate IS, which, in conjunction with the satellite-based RS, yields an SIAF of 0.16 ± 0.04 W m-2 K-1. This Arctic SIAF estimate suggests a modest amplification of future global surface temperature change by approximately 14% relative to a climate system with no SIAF. We calculate the global albedo feedback in climate models using model-specific RS and IS and find a model mean feedback parameter of 0.37 W m-2 K-1, which is 40% larger than the IPCC AR5 estimate based on using RS calculated from radiative kernel calculations in a single climate model.

The partitioning of meridional heat transport from the last glacial maximum to CO2 quadrupling in coupled climate models

Donohoe, A., "The partitioning of meridional heat transport from the last glacial maximum to CO2 quadrupling in coupled climate models," J. Clim., 33, 4141-4165, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0797.1, 2020.

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1 May 2020

Meridional heat transport (MHT) is analyzed in ensembles of coupled climate models simulating climate states ranging from the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) to quadrupled CO2. MHT is partitioned here into atmospheric (AHT) and implied oceanic (OHT) heat transports. In turn, AHT is partitioned into dry and moist energy transport by the meridional overturning circulation (MOC), transient eddy energy transport (TE), and stationary eddy energy transport (SE) using only monthly averaged model output that is typically archived. In all climate models examined, the maximum total MHT (AHT + OHT) is nearly climate-state invariant, except for a modest (4%, 0.3 PW) enhancement of MHT in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) during the LGM. However, the partitioning of MHT depends markedly on the climate state, and the changes in partitioning differ considerably among different climate models. In response to CO2 quadrupling, poleward implied OHT decreases, while AHT increases by a nearly compensating amount. The increase in annual-mean AHT is a smooth function of latitude but is due to a spatially inhomogeneous blend of changes in SE and TE that vary by season. During the LGM, the increase in wintertime SE transport in the NH midlatitudes exceeds the decrease in TE resulting in enhanced total AHT. Total AHT changes in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) are not significant. These results suggest that the net top-of-atmosphere radiative constraints on total MHT are relatively invariant to climate forcing due to nearly compensating changes in absorbed solar radiation and outgoing longwave radiation. However, the partitioning of MHT depends on detailed regional and seasonal factors.

Seasonal asymmetries in the lag between insolation and surface temperature

Donohoe, A., E. Dawson, L. McMurdie, D.S. Battisti, and A. Rhines, "Seasonal asymmetries in the lag between insolation and surface temperature," J. Clim., 33, 3921–3945, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0329.1, 2020.

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7 Apr 2020

We analyze the temporal structure of the climatological seasonal cycle in surface air temperature across the globe. We find that, over large regions of Earth, the seasonal cycle of surface temperature departs from an annual harmonic: the duration of fall and spring differ by as much as 2 months. We characterize this asymmetry by the metric ASYM, defined as the phase lag of the seasonal maximum temperature relative to the summer solstice minus the phase lag of the seasonal minimum temperature relative to winter solstice. We present a global analysis of ASYM from weather station data and atmospheric reanalysis and find that ASYM is well represented in the reanalysis. ASYM generally features positive values over land and negative values over the ocean, indicating that spring has a longer duration over the land domain whereas fall has a longer duration over the ocean. However, ASYM also features more positive values over North America compared to Europe and negative values in the polar regions over ice sheets and sea ice. Understanding the root cause of the climatological ASYM will potentially further our understanding of controls on the seasonal cycle of temperature and its future/past changes. We explore several candidate mechanisms to explain the spatial structure of ASYM including 1) modification of the seasonal cycle of surface solar radiation by the seasonal evolution of cloud thickness, 2) differences in the seasonal cycle of the atmospheric boundary layer depth over ocean and over land, and 3) temperature advection by the seasonally evolving atmospheric circulation.

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