The Annual Cycle of the Energy Budget. Part II: Meridional Structures and Poleward Transports

John T. Fasullo National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado

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Kevin E. Trenberth National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado

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Abstract

Meridional structure and transports of energy in the atmosphere, ocean, and land are evaluated holistically for the mean and annual cycle zonal averages over the ocean, land, and global domains, with discussion and assessment of uncertainty. At the top of the atmosphere (TOA), adjusted radiances from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) and Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) are used along with estimates of energy storage and transport from two global reanalysis datasets for the atmosphere. Three ocean temperature datasets are used to assess changes in the ocean heat content (OE) and their relationship to the net upward surface energy flux over ocean (FoS), which is derived from the residual of the TOA and atmospheric energy budgets. The surface flux over land is from a stand-alone simulation of the Community Land Model forced by observed fields.

In the extratropics, absorbed solar radiation (ASR) achieves a maximum in summer with peak values near the solstices. Outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) maxima also occur in summer but lag ASR by 1–2 months, consistent with temperature maxima over land. In the tropics, however, OLR relates to high cloud variations and peaks late in the dry monsoon season, while the OLR minima in summer coincide with deep convection in the monsoon trough at the height of the rainy season. Most of the difference between the TOA radiation and atmospheric energy storage tendency is made up by a large heat flux into the ocean in summer and out of the ocean in winter. In the Northern Hemisphere, the transport of energy from ocean to land regions is substantial in winter, and modest in summer. In the Southern Hemisphere extratropics, land − ocean differences play only a small role and the main energy transport by the atmosphere and ocean is poleward. There is reasonably good agreement between FoS and observed changes in OE, except for south of 40°S, where differences among several ocean datasets point to that region as the main source of errors in achieving an overall energy balance. The winter hemisphere atmospheric circulation is the dominant contributor to poleward energy transports outside of the tropics [6–7 PW (1 petawatt = 1015 W)], with summer transports being relatively weak (∼3 PW)—slightly more in the Southern Hemisphere and slightly less in the Northern Hemisphere. Ocean transports outside of the tropics are found to be small (<2 PW) for all months. Strong cross-equatorial heat transports in the ocean of up to 5 PW exhibit a large annual cycle in phase with poleward atmospheric transports of the winter hemisphere.

Corresponding author address: Kevin Trenberth, NCAR, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000. Email: trenbert@ucar.edu

Abstract

Meridional structure and transports of energy in the atmosphere, ocean, and land are evaluated holistically for the mean and annual cycle zonal averages over the ocean, land, and global domains, with discussion and assessment of uncertainty. At the top of the atmosphere (TOA), adjusted radiances from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) and Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) are used along with estimates of energy storage and transport from two global reanalysis datasets for the atmosphere. Three ocean temperature datasets are used to assess changes in the ocean heat content (OE) and their relationship to the net upward surface energy flux over ocean (FoS), which is derived from the residual of the TOA and atmospheric energy budgets. The surface flux over land is from a stand-alone simulation of the Community Land Model forced by observed fields.

In the extratropics, absorbed solar radiation (ASR) achieves a maximum in summer with peak values near the solstices. Outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) maxima also occur in summer but lag ASR by 1–2 months, consistent with temperature maxima over land. In the tropics, however, OLR relates to high cloud variations and peaks late in the dry monsoon season, while the OLR minima in summer coincide with deep convection in the monsoon trough at the height of the rainy season. Most of the difference between the TOA radiation and atmospheric energy storage tendency is made up by a large heat flux into the ocean in summer and out of the ocean in winter. In the Northern Hemisphere, the transport of energy from ocean to land regions is substantial in winter, and modest in summer. In the Southern Hemisphere extratropics, land − ocean differences play only a small role and the main energy transport by the atmosphere and ocean is poleward. There is reasonably good agreement between FoS and observed changes in OE, except for south of 40°S, where differences among several ocean datasets point to that region as the main source of errors in achieving an overall energy balance. The winter hemisphere atmospheric circulation is the dominant contributor to poleward energy transports outside of the tropics [6–7 PW (1 petawatt = 1015 W)], with summer transports being relatively weak (∼3 PW)—slightly more in the Southern Hemisphere and slightly less in the Northern Hemisphere. Ocean transports outside of the tropics are found to be small (<2 PW) for all months. Strong cross-equatorial heat transports in the ocean of up to 5 PW exhibit a large annual cycle in phase with poleward atmospheric transports of the winter hemisphere.

Corresponding author address: Kevin Trenberth, NCAR, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000. Email: trenbert@ucar.edu

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