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Surface Ocean Fluxes and Water-Mass Transformation Rates in the Coupled NCAR Climate System Model

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

The global distributions of the air–sea fluxes of heat and freshwater and water mass transformation rates from a control integration of the coupled National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Climate System Model (CSM) are compared with similar fields from an uncoupled ocean model equilibrium spinup and a new surface climatology. The climatology and uncoupled model use the same bulk-flux forcing scheme and are forced with National Centers for Environmental Predicition (formerly the National Meteorological Center) atmospheric reanalysis data and satellite-based cloud cover, solar flux, and precipitation estimates. The climatological fluxes for the open ocean are adjusted to give a global net balance and are in broad general agreement with standard ship-based estimates. An exception is the ice-free Southern Ocean, where the net heat and evaporative fluxes appear to be too weak but where the observational coverage underlying the reanalyis is quite poor. Major differences are observed between the climatology and the NCAR CSM coupled solution, namely, enhanced tropical and subtropic solar insolation, stronger energy and hydrologic cycles, and excessive high-latitude ice formation/melt producing a several-fold increase in Arctic and Antarctic deep water formation through brine rejection. The anomalous fluxes and corresponding water-mass transformations are closely tied to the coupled ocean model drift, characterized by a reorganization of the vertical salinity distribution. Some error features in the heat flux and sea surface temperature fields are common to both the coupled and uncoupled solutions, primarily in the western boundary currents and the Antarctic circumpolar current, and are thus likely due to the poor representation of the circulation field in the coarse-resolution NCAR ocean model. Other problems particular to the uncoupled spinup are related to the bulk-flux forcing scheme, an example being excess freshwater deposition in the western boundary currents arising from the inclusion of a weak open ocean surface salinity restoring term. The effective thermal restoring coefficent, which relates the change in nonsolar surface heat flux to sea surface temperature changes, is on average 14.6 W m−2 K−1 for the coupled solution or about a third of the range from the bulk flux forcing scheme, 40–60 W m−2 K−1.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Scott C. Doney, NCAR/CGD, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000.

Email: doney@ncar.ucar.edu

Abstract

The global distributions of the air–sea fluxes of heat and freshwater and water mass transformation rates from a control integration of the coupled National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Climate System Model (CSM) are compared with similar fields from an uncoupled ocean model equilibrium spinup and a new surface climatology. The climatology and uncoupled model use the same bulk-flux forcing scheme and are forced with National Centers for Environmental Predicition (formerly the National Meteorological Center) atmospheric reanalysis data and satellite-based cloud cover, solar flux, and precipitation estimates. The climatological fluxes for the open ocean are adjusted to give a global net balance and are in broad general agreement with standard ship-based estimates. An exception is the ice-free Southern Ocean, where the net heat and evaporative fluxes appear to be too weak but where the observational coverage underlying the reanalyis is quite poor. Major differences are observed between the climatology and the NCAR CSM coupled solution, namely, enhanced tropical and subtropic solar insolation, stronger energy and hydrologic cycles, and excessive high-latitude ice formation/melt producing a several-fold increase in Arctic and Antarctic deep water formation through brine rejection. The anomalous fluxes and corresponding water-mass transformations are closely tied to the coupled ocean model drift, characterized by a reorganization of the vertical salinity distribution. Some error features in the heat flux and sea surface temperature fields are common to both the coupled and uncoupled solutions, primarily in the western boundary currents and the Antarctic circumpolar current, and are thus likely due to the poor representation of the circulation field in the coarse-resolution NCAR ocean model. Other problems particular to the uncoupled spinup are related to the bulk-flux forcing scheme, an example being excess freshwater deposition in the western boundary currents arising from the inclusion of a weak open ocean surface salinity restoring term. The effective thermal restoring coefficent, which relates the change in nonsolar surface heat flux to sea surface temperature changes, is on average 14.6 W m−2 K−1 for the coupled solution or about a third of the range from the bulk flux forcing scheme, 40–60 W m−2 K−1.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Scott C. Doney, NCAR/CGD, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000.

Email: doney@ncar.ucar.edu

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