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Evelien Dekker, Richard Bintanja, and Camiel Severijns

Abstract

With Arctic summer sea ice potentially disappearing halfway through this century, the surface albedo and insulating effects of Arctic sea ice will decrease considerably. The ongoing Arctic sea ice retreat also affects the strength of the Planck, lapse rate, cloud, and surface albedo feedbacks together with changes in the heat exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere, but their combined effect on climate sensitivity has not been quantified. This study presents an estimate of all Arctic sea ice related climate feedbacks combined. We use a new method to keep Arctic sea ice at its present-day (PD) distribution under a changing climate in a 50-yr CO2 doubling simulation, using a fully coupled global climate model (EC-Earth, version 2.3). We nudge the Arctic Ocean to the (monthly dependent) year 2000 mean temperature and minimum salinity fields on a mask representing PD sea ice cover. We are able to preserve about 95% of the PD mean March and 77% of the September PD Arctic sea ice extent by applying this method. Using simulations with and without nudging, we estimate the climate response associated with Arctic sea ice changes. The Arctic sea ice feedback globally equals 0.28 ± 0.15 W m−2 K−1. The total sea ice feedback thus amplifies the climate response for a doubling of CO2, in line with earlier findings. Our estimate of the Arctic sea ice feedback agrees reasonably well with earlier CMIP5 global climate feedback estimates and shows that the Arctic sea ice exerts a considerable effect on the Arctic and global climate sensitivity.

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Wilco Hazeleger, Camiel Severijns, Richard Seager, and Franco Molteni

Abstract

The atmospheric energy transport variability associated with decadal sea surface temperature variability in the tropical Pacific is studied using an atmospheric primitive equation model coupled to a slab mixed layer. The decadal variability is prescribed as an anomalous surface heat flux that represents the reduced ocean heat transport in the tropical Pacific when it is anomalously warm. The atmospheric energy transport increases and compensates for the reduced ocean heat transport. Increased transport by the mean meridional overturning (i.e., the strengthening of the Hadley cells) causes increased poleward energy transport. The subtropical jets increase in strength and shift equatorward, and in the midlatitudes the transients are affected. NCEP–NCAR reanalysis data show that the warming of the tropical Pacific in the 1980s compared to the early 1970s seems to have caused very similar changes in atmospheric energy transport indicating that these atmospheric transport variations were driven from the tropical Pacific. To study the implication of these changes for the coupled climate system an ocean model is driven with winds obtained from the atmosphere model. The poleward ocean heat transport increased when simulated wind anomalies associated with decadal tropical Pacific variability were used, showing a negative feedback between decadal variations in the mean meridional circulation in the atmosphere and in the Pacific Ocean. The Hadley cells and subtropical cells act to stabilize each other on the decadal time scale.

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Reindert J. Haarsma, Edmo Campos, Wilco Hazeleger, and Camiel Severijns

Abstract

The influence of the meridional overturning circulation on tropical Atlantic climate and variability has been investigated using the atmosphere–ocean coupled model Speedy-MICOM (Miami Isopycnic Coordinate Ocean Model). In the ocean model MICOM the strength of the meridional overturning cell can be regulated by specifying the lateral boundary conditions. In case of a collapse of the basinwide meridional overturning cell the SST response in the Atlantic is characterized by a dipole with a cooling in the North Atlantic and a warming in the tropical and South Atlantic. The cooling in the North Atlantic is due to the decrease in the strength of the western boundary currents, which reduces the northward advection of heat. The warming in the tropical Atlantic is caused by a reduced ventilation of water originating from the South Atlantic. This effect is most prominent in the eastern tropical Atlantic during boreal summer when the mixed layer attains its minimum depth. As a consequence the seasonal cycle as well as the interannual variability in SST is reduced. The characteristics of the cold tongue mode are changed: the variability in the eastern equatorial region is strongly reduced and the largest variability is now in the Benguela, Angola region. Because of the deepening of the equatorial thermocline, variations in the thermocline depth in the eastern tropical Atlantic no longer significantly affect the mixed layer temperature. The gradient mode remains unaltered. The warming of the tropical Atlantic enhances and shifts the Hadley circulation. Together with the cooling in the North Atlantic, this increases the strength of the subtropical jet and the baroclinicity over the North Atlantic.

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Reindert J. Haarsma, Edmo J. D. Campos, Wilco Hazeleger, Camiel Severijns, Alberto R. Piola, and Franco Molteni

Abstract

Using an atmosphere model of intermediate complexity and a hierarchy of ocean models, the dominant modes of interannual and decadal variability in the South Atlantic Ocean are studied. The atmosphere Simplified Parameterizations Primitive Equation Dynamics (SPEEDY) model has T30L7 resolution. The physical package consists of a set of simplified physical parameterization schemes, based on the same principles adopted in the schemes of state-of-the-art AGCMs. It is at least an order of magnitude faster, whereas the quality of the simulated climate compares well with those models. The hierarchy of ocean models consists of simple mixed layer models with an increasing number of physical processes involved such as Ekman transport, wind-induced mixing, and wind-driven barotropic transport. Finally, the atmosphere model is coupled to a regional version of the Miami Isopycnal Coordinate Ocean Model (MICOM) covering the South Atlantic with a horizontal resolution of 1° and 16 vertical layers.

The coupled modes of mean sea level pressure and sea surface temperature simulated by SPEEDY–MICOM strongly resemble the modes as analyzed from the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis, indicating that this model configuration possesses the required physical mechanisms for generating these modes of variability. Using the ocean model hierarchy the authors were able to show that turbulent heat fluxes, Ekman transport, and wind-induced mixing contribute to the generation of the dominant modes of coupled SST variability. The different roles of these terms in generating these modes are analyzed. Variations in the wind-driven barotropic transport mainly seem to affect the SST variability in the Brazil–Malvinas confluence zone.

The spectra of the mixed layer models appeared to be too red in comparison with the fully coupled SPEEDY–MICOM model due to the too strong coupling between SST and surface air temperatures (SATs), resulting from the inability to advect and subduct SST anomalies by the mixed layer models. In SPEEDY–MICOM anomalies in the southeastern corner of the South Atlantic are subducted and advected toward the north Brazilian coast on a time scale of about 6 yr.

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EC-Earth

A Seamless Earth-System Prediction Approach in Action

Wilco Hazeleger, Camiel Severijns, Tido Semmler, Simona Ştefănescu, Shuting Yang, Xueli Wang, Klaus Wyser, Emanuel Dutra, José M. Baldasano, Richard Bintanja, Philippe Bougeault, Rodrigo Caballero, Annica M. L. Ekman, Jens H. Christensen, Bart van den Hurk, Pedro Jimenez, Colin Jones, Per Kållberg, Torben Koenigk, Ray McGrath, Pedro Miranda, Twan van Noije, Tim Palmer, José A. Parodi, Torben Schmith, Frank Selten, Trude Storelvmo, Andreas Sterl, Honoré Tapamo, Martin Vancoppenolle, Pedro Viterbo, and Ulrika Willén
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