Weakening of Upward Mass but Intensification of Upward Energy Transport in a Warming Climate

Yutian Wu, Jian Lu, Olivier Pauluis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


How the atmospheric overturning circulation is projected to change is important for understanding changes in mass and energy budget. This study analyzes the overturning circulation by sorting the upward mass transport in terms of the moist static energy (MSE) of air parcels in an ensemble of coupled climate models. It is found that, in response to greenhouse gas increases, the upward transport of MSE increases in order to balance the increase in radiative cooling of the mass transport. At the same time, the overall mass transport decreases. The increase in energy transport and decrease in mass transport can be explained by the fact that the MSE of rising air parcels increases more rapidly than that of subsiding air, thus allowing for a weaker overturning circulation to transport more energy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1672-1680
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 16 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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