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Comparing Oceanic Heat Uptake in AOGCM Transient Climate Change Experiments

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  • 1 Joint Program on Science and Policy of Global Change, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts
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Abstract

The transient response of both surface air temperature and deep ocean temperature to an increasing external forcing strongly depends on climate sensitivity and the rate of the heat mixing into the deep ocean, estimates for both of which have large uncertainty. In this paper a method for estimating rates of oceanic heat uptake for coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation models from results of transient climate change simulations is described. For models considered in this study, the estimates vary by a factor of 2½. Nevertheless, values of oceanic heat uptake for all models fall in the range implied by the climate record for the last century. It is worth noting that the range of the model values is narrower than that consistent with observations and thus does not provide a full measure of the uncertainty in the rate of oceanic heat uptake.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Andrei Sokolov, Joint Program on Science and Policy of Global Change, MIT E40-271, 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139-4307. Sokolov@mit.edu

Abstract

The transient response of both surface air temperature and deep ocean temperature to an increasing external forcing strongly depends on climate sensitivity and the rate of the heat mixing into the deep ocean, estimates for both of which have large uncertainty. In this paper a method for estimating rates of oceanic heat uptake for coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation models from results of transient climate change simulations is described. For models considered in this study, the estimates vary by a factor of 2½. Nevertheless, values of oceanic heat uptake for all models fall in the range implied by the climate record for the last century. It is worth noting that the range of the model values is narrower than that consistent with observations and thus does not provide a full measure of the uncertainty in the rate of oceanic heat uptake.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Andrei Sokolov, Joint Program on Science and Policy of Global Change, MIT E40-271, 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139-4307. Sokolov@mit.edu

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