The Role of Oceanic Feedback in the Climate Response to Doubling CO2

Jian Lu Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies, Institute of Global Environment and Society, Calverton, Maryland, and Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia

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Bin Zhao Global Modeling and Assimilation Office, NASA Goddard Space and Flight Center, Camp Greenbelt, Maryland, and Climate, Ocean and Sea-Ice Modeling (COSIM) Project, Group T-3, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico

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Abstract

Two suites of partial coupling experiments are devised with the upper-ocean dynamics version (UOM) of the CCSM3 to isolate the effects of the feedbacks from the change of the wind-driven ocean circulation and air–sea heat flux in the global climate response to the forcing of doubling CO2. The partial coupling is achieved by implementing a so-called overriding technique, which helps quantitatively partition the total response in the fully coupled model to the feedback component in question and the response to external forcing in the absence of the former. By overriding the wind stress seen by the ocean and the wind speed through the bulk formula for evaporation, the experiments help to reveal that (i) the wind–evaporation–SST (WES) feedback is the main formation mechanism for the tropical SST pattern under the CO2 forcing, verifying the hypothesis proposed by Xie et al.; (ii) the weakened tropical Pacific wind is shown in this UOM model not to be the cause for the enhanced equatorial Pacific warming, as one might expect from the thermocline and Bjerknes feedbacks; (iii) WES is also the leading mechanism for shaping the tropical precipitation response in the ocean; and (iv) both the wind-driven ocean dynamical feedback and the WES feedback act to increase the persistence of the southern annular mode (SAM) and the increased time scale of the SAM due to these feedbacks manifests itself in the response of the jet shift to an identical CO2 forcing, in a manner conforming to the fluctuation–dissipation theorem.

Corresponding author address: Jian Lu, Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies, 4041 Powder Mill Rd., Suite 302, Calverton, MD 20705-3106. E-mail: jianlu@cola.iges.org

Abstract

Two suites of partial coupling experiments are devised with the upper-ocean dynamics version (UOM) of the CCSM3 to isolate the effects of the feedbacks from the change of the wind-driven ocean circulation and air–sea heat flux in the global climate response to the forcing of doubling CO2. The partial coupling is achieved by implementing a so-called overriding technique, which helps quantitatively partition the total response in the fully coupled model to the feedback component in question and the response to external forcing in the absence of the former. By overriding the wind stress seen by the ocean and the wind speed through the bulk formula for evaporation, the experiments help to reveal that (i) the wind–evaporation–SST (WES) feedback is the main formation mechanism for the tropical SST pattern under the CO2 forcing, verifying the hypothesis proposed by Xie et al.; (ii) the weakened tropical Pacific wind is shown in this UOM model not to be the cause for the enhanced equatorial Pacific warming, as one might expect from the thermocline and Bjerknes feedbacks; (iii) WES is also the leading mechanism for shaping the tropical precipitation response in the ocean; and (iv) both the wind-driven ocean dynamical feedback and the WES feedback act to increase the persistence of the southern annular mode (SAM) and the increased time scale of the SAM due to these feedbacks manifests itself in the response of the jet shift to an identical CO2 forcing, in a manner conforming to the fluctuation–dissipation theorem.

Corresponding author address: Jian Lu, Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies, 4041 Powder Mill Rd., Suite 302, Calverton, MD 20705-3106. E-mail: jianlu@cola.iges.org
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