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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

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.

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.

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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