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Warming of the North Pacific Ocean: Local Air–Sea Coupling and Remote Climatic Impacts

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  • 1 Physical Oceanography Laboratory, Ocean University of China, Qingdao, China
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Abstract

In this paper, global climatic response to the North Pacific oceanic warming is investigated in a series of coupled ocean–atmosphere modeling experiments. In the model, an idealized heating is imposed over the North Pacific Ocean, while the ocean and atmosphere remain fully coupled both locally and elsewhere. The model explicitly demonstrates that the North Pacific oceanic warming can force a significant change of the atmospheric circulation with a strong seasonal dependence. The seasonal marching of the atmospheric response over the North Pacific is characterized by a quasi-baratropic warm ridge in early winter, a transition to a quasi-baratropic warm trough in late winter, and then to a baroclinic response in summer with a trough and ridge, respectively, in the lower and upper troposphere. The North Pacific warming also forces a significant remote response over the tropical Pacific. In winter, the tropical Pacific response is characterized by a nearly uniform warming coupled with anomalous southerly cross-equatorial winds, while in summer it is dominated by an enhanced zonal SST gradient and anomalous equatorial easterlies. The tropical warming tends to be associated with a reduction of the upper-ocean meridional overturning circulation and equatorial ocean dynamics associated with a reduction of the Hadley circulation and the surface coupled wind–evaporation–SST feedback. The resulting tropical warming can further intensify the seasonal marching of the North Pacific atmospheric response. The global impacts of the North Pacific warming are also discussed.

Corresponding author address: Lixin Wu, Physical Oceanography Laboratory, Ocean University of China, 5 Yushan Rd., Qingdao 266003, China. Email: lxwu@ouc.edu.cn

Abstract

In this paper, global climatic response to the North Pacific oceanic warming is investigated in a series of coupled ocean–atmosphere modeling experiments. In the model, an idealized heating is imposed over the North Pacific Ocean, while the ocean and atmosphere remain fully coupled both locally and elsewhere. The model explicitly demonstrates that the North Pacific oceanic warming can force a significant change of the atmospheric circulation with a strong seasonal dependence. The seasonal marching of the atmospheric response over the North Pacific is characterized by a quasi-baratropic warm ridge in early winter, a transition to a quasi-baratropic warm trough in late winter, and then to a baroclinic response in summer with a trough and ridge, respectively, in the lower and upper troposphere. The North Pacific warming also forces a significant remote response over the tropical Pacific. In winter, the tropical Pacific response is characterized by a nearly uniform warming coupled with anomalous southerly cross-equatorial winds, while in summer it is dominated by an enhanced zonal SST gradient and anomalous equatorial easterlies. The tropical warming tends to be associated with a reduction of the upper-ocean meridional overturning circulation and equatorial ocean dynamics associated with a reduction of the Hadley circulation and the surface coupled wind–evaporation–SST feedback. The resulting tropical warming can further intensify the seasonal marching of the North Pacific atmospheric response. The global impacts of the North Pacific warming are also discussed.

Corresponding author address: Lixin Wu, Physical Oceanography Laboratory, Ocean University of China, 5 Yushan Rd., Qingdao 266003, China. Email: lxwu@ouc.edu.cn

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