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Journalpaper

Centennial Variations of the Global Monsoon Precipitation in the Last Millennium: Results from ECHO-G Model

Abstract

The authors investigate how the global monsoon (GM) precipitation responds to the external and anthropogenic forcing in the last millennium by analyzing a pair of control and forced millennium simulations with the ECHAM and the global Hamburg Ocean Primitive Equation (ECHO-G) coupled ocean–atmosphere model. The forced run, which includes the solar, volcanic, and greenhouse gas forcing, captures the major modes of precipitation climatology comparably well when contrasted with those captured by the NCEP reanalysis. The strength of the modeled GM precipitation in the forced run exhibits a significant quasi-bicentennial oscillation. Over the past 1000 yr, the simulated GM precipitation was weak during the Little Ice Age (1450–1850) with the three weakest periods occurring around 1460, 1685, and 1800, which fell in, respectively, the Spörer Minimum, Maunder Minimum, and Dalton Minimum periods of solar activity. Conversely, strong GM was simulated during the model Medieval Warm Period (ca. 1030–1240). Before the industrial period, the natural variations in the total amount of effective solar radiative forcing reinforce the thermal contrasts both between the ocean and continent and between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres resulting in the millennium-scale variation and the quasi-bicentennial oscillation in the GM index. The prominent upward trend in the GM precipitation occurring in the last century and the notable strengthening of the global monsoon in the last 30 yr (1961–90) appear unprecedented and are due possibly in part to the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, though the authors’ simulations of the effects from recent warming may be overestimated without considering the negative feedbacks from aerosols. The simulated change of GM in the last 30 yr has a spatial pattern that differs from that during the Medieval Warm Period, suggesting that global warming that arises from the increases of greenhouse gases and the input solar forcing may have different effects on the characteristics of GM precipitation. It is further noted that GM strength has good relational coherence with the temperature difference between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and that on centennial time scales the GM strength responds more directly to the effective solar forcing than the concurrent forced response in global-mean surface temperature.
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