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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

Mechanisms of tropical precipitation biases in climate models

Kim, H., S.M. Kang, K. Takahashi, A. Donohoe, and A.G. Pendergrass, "Mechanisms of tropical precipitation biases in climate models," Clim. Dyn., EOR, doi:10.1007/s00382-020-05325-z, 2020.

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27 Oct 2020

We investigate the possible causes for inter-model spread in tropical zonal-mean precipitation pattern, which is divided into hemispherically symmetric and anti-symmetric modes via empirical orthogonal function analysis. The symmetric pattern characterizes the leading mode and is tightly related to the seasonal amplitude of maximum precipitation position. The energetic constraints link the symmetric pattern to the seasonal amplitude in cross-equatorial atmospheric energy transport AET0 and the annual-mean equatorial net energy input NEI0. Decomposition of AET0 into the energetics variables indicates that the inter-model spread in symmetric precipitation pattern is correlated with the inter-model spread in clear-sky atmospheric shortwave absorption, which most likely arises due to differences in radiative transfer parameterizations rather than water vapor patterns. Among the components that consist NEI0, the inter-model spread in symmetric precipitation pattern is mostly associated with the inter-model spread in net surface energy flux in the equatorial region, which is modulated by the strength of cooling by equatorial upwelling. Our results provide clues to understand the mechanism of tropical precipitation bias, thereby providing guidance for model improvements.

Robust longitudinally variable responses of the ITCZ to a myriad of climate forcings

Atwood, A.R., A. Donohoe, D.S. Battisti, X. Liu, and F.S.R. Pausata, "Robust longitudinally variable responses of the ITCZ to a myriad of climate forcings," Geophys. Res. Lett., 47, doi:10.1029/2020GL088833, 2020.

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16 Sep 2020

We evaluate the longitudinal variation in meridional shifts of the tropical rainbelt in response to natural and anthropogenic forcings using a large suite of coupled climate model simulations. We find that the energetic framework of the zonal mean Hadley cell is generally not useful for characterizing shifts of the rainbelt at regional scales, regardless of the characteristics of the forcing. Forcings with large hemispheric asymmetry such as extratropical volcanic forcing, meltwater forcing, and the Last Glacial Maximum give rise to robust zonal mean shifts of the rainbelt; however, the direction and magnitude of the shift vary strongly as a function of longitude. Even the Pacific rainband does not shift uniformly under any forcing considered. Forcings with weak hemispheric asymmetry such as CO2 and mid‐Holocene forcing give rise to zonal mean shifts that are small or absent, but the rainbelt does shift regionally in coherent ways across models that may have important dynamical consequences.

Antarctic elevation drives hemispheric asymmetry in polar lapse rate climatology and feedback

Hahn, L.C., K.C. Armour, D.S. Battisti, A. Donohoe, A.G. Pauling, and C.M. Bitz, "Antarctic elevation drives hemispheric asymmetry in polar lapse rate climatology and feedback," Geophys. Res. Lett., 47, doi:10.1029/2020GL088965, 2020.

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28 Aug 2020

The lapse rate feedback is the dominant driver of stronger warming in the Arctic than the Antarctic in simulations with increased CO2. While Antarctic surface elevation has been implicated in promoting a weaker Antarctic lapse rate feedback, the mechanisms in which elevation impacts the lapse rate feedback are still unclear. Here we suggest that weaker Antarctic warming under CO2 forcing stems from shallower, less intense climatological inversions due to limited atmospheric heat transport above the ice sheet elevation and elevation‐induced katabatic winds. In slab ocean model experiments with flattened Antarctic topography, stronger climatological inversions support a stronger lapse rate feedback and annual mean Antarctic warming comparable to the Arctic under CO2 doubling. Unlike the Arctic, seasonality in warming over flat Antarctica is mainly driven by a negative shortwave cloud feedback, which exclusively dampens summer warming, with a smaller contribution from the winter‐enhanced lapse rate feedback.

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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