Effects of Ocean Biology on the Penetrative Radiation in a Coupled Climate Model

Patrick Wetzel Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany

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Ernst Maier-Reimer Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany

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Michael Botzet Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany

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Johann Jungclaus Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany

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Noel Keenlyside IfM GEOMAR, Leibniz-Institut für Meereswissenschaften, Kiel, Germany

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Mojib Latif IfM GEOMAR, Leibniz-Institut für Meereswissenschaften, Kiel, Germany

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Abstract

The influence of phytoplankton on the seasonal cycle and the mean global climate is investigated in a fully coupled climate model. The control experiment uses a fixed attenuation depth for shortwave radiation, while the attenuation depth in the experiment with biology is derived from phytoplankton concentrations simulated with a marine biogeochemical model coupled online to the ocean model. Some of the changes in the upper ocean are similar to the results from previous studies that did not use interactive atmospheres, for example, amplification of the seasonal cycle; warming in upwelling regions, such as the equatorial Pacific and the Arabian Sea; and reduction in sea ice cover in the high latitudes. In addition, positive feedbacks within the climate system cause a global shift of the seasonal cycle. The onset of spring is about 2 weeks earlier, which results in a more realistic representation of the seasons. Feedback mechanisms, such as increased wind stress and changes in the shortwave radiation, lead to significant warming in the midlatitudes in summer and to seasonal modifications of the overall warming in the equatorial Pacific. Temperature changes also occur over land where they are sometimes even larger than over the ocean. In the equatorial Pacific, the strength of interannual SST variability is reduced by about 10%–15% and phase locking to the annual cycle is improved. The ENSO spectral peak is broader than in the experiment without biology and the dominant ENSO period is increased to around 5 yr. Also the skewness of ENSO variability is slightly improved. All of these changes lead to the conclusion that the influence of marine biology on the radiative budget of the upper ocean should be considered in detailed simulations of the earth’s climate.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Johann Jungclaus, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Bundesstrasse 53, 20146 Hamburg, Germany. Email: johannjungclaus@zmaw.de

Abstract

The influence of phytoplankton on the seasonal cycle and the mean global climate is investigated in a fully coupled climate model. The control experiment uses a fixed attenuation depth for shortwave radiation, while the attenuation depth in the experiment with biology is derived from phytoplankton concentrations simulated with a marine biogeochemical model coupled online to the ocean model. Some of the changes in the upper ocean are similar to the results from previous studies that did not use interactive atmospheres, for example, amplification of the seasonal cycle; warming in upwelling regions, such as the equatorial Pacific and the Arabian Sea; and reduction in sea ice cover in the high latitudes. In addition, positive feedbacks within the climate system cause a global shift of the seasonal cycle. The onset of spring is about 2 weeks earlier, which results in a more realistic representation of the seasons. Feedback mechanisms, such as increased wind stress and changes in the shortwave radiation, lead to significant warming in the midlatitudes in summer and to seasonal modifications of the overall warming in the equatorial Pacific. Temperature changes also occur over land where they are sometimes even larger than over the ocean. In the equatorial Pacific, the strength of interannual SST variability is reduced by about 10%–15% and phase locking to the annual cycle is improved. The ENSO spectral peak is broader than in the experiment without biology and the dominant ENSO period is increased to around 5 yr. Also the skewness of ENSO variability is slightly improved. All of these changes lead to the conclusion that the influence of marine biology on the radiative budget of the upper ocean should be considered in detailed simulations of the earth’s climate.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Johann Jungclaus, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Bundesstrasse 53, 20146 Hamburg, Germany. Email: johannjungclaus@zmaw.de

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