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Stephen Outten, Igor Esau, and Odd Helge Otterå


This study examines the atmospheric and oceanic heat transports in preindustrial control and historical runs of 15 fully coupled global climate models from the CMIP5 project. The presence of Bjerknes compensation is confirmed in all models by the strong anticorrelation and approximately equal magnitude of the anomalies of these heat transports. Previous studies of Bjerknes compensation in the absence of external forcing have all shown the strongest compensation at high latitudes, where the warm ocean meets the cold Arctic atmosphere. In this study, however, it is found that many of the 15 models have a second and often dominant peak of compensation in the northern midlatitudes, where strong air–sea interaction is often associated with the midlatitude storm tracks. It has also been suggested that variations in heat transport in the ocean lead those in the atmosphere, but this work has found no clear and robust support for this, as only half the models show such a relationship. In the historical simulations where external forcings are applied, Bjerknes compensation continues to be present, but many models show pronounced trends in the heat transports. All of the models show multidecadal variability in heat transports in both preindustrial control and historical simulations. Any anthropogenic climate change signal could potentially be masked or amplified by the natural variability governed by Bjerknes compensation. Given its presence in the CMIP5 models, which are the basis of so much policy and adaptation planning, an improved understanding of Bjerknes compensation may have socioeconomic relevance for the future.

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Helene R. Langehaug, Iselin Medhaug, Tor Eldevik, and Odd Helge Otterå


In the present study the decadal variability in the strength and shape of the subpolar gyre (SPG) in a 600-yr preindustrial simulation using the Bergen Climate Model is investigated. The atmospheric influence on the SPG strength is reflected in the variability of Labrador Sea Water (LSW), which is largely controlled by the North Atlantic Oscillation, the first mode of the North Atlantic atmospheric variability. A combination of the amount of LSW, the overflows from the Nordic seas, and the second mode of atmospheric variability, the East Atlantic Pattern, explains 44% of the modeled decadal variability in the SPG strength. A prior increase in these components leads to an intensified SPG in the western subpolar region. Typically, an increase of one standard deviation (std dev) of the total overflow (1 std dev = 0.2 Sv; 1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) corresponds to an intensification of about one-half std dev of the SPG strength (1 std dev = 2 Sv). A similar response is found for an increase of one std dev in the amount of LSW, and simultaneously the strength of the North Atlantic Current increases by one-half std dev (1 std dev = 0.9 Sv).

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Helene Muri, Jerry Tjiputra, Odd Helge Otterå, Muralidhar Adakudlu, Siv K. Lauvset, Alf Grini, Michael Schulz, Ulrike Niemeier, and Jón Egill Kristjánsson


Considering the ambitious climate targets of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 2°C, with aspirations of even 1.5°C, questions arise on how to achieve this. Climate geoengineering has been proposed as a potential tool to minimize global harm from anthropogenic climate change. Here, an Earth system model is used to evaluate the climate response when transferring from a high CO2 forcing scenario, RCP8.5, to a middle-of-the-road forcing scenario, like RCP4.5, using aerosol geoengineering. Three different techniques are considered: stratospheric aerosol injections (SAI), marine sky brightening (MSB), and cirrus cloud thinning (CCT). The climate states appearing in the climate geoengineering cases are found to be closer to RCP4.5 than RCP8.5 and many anthropogenic global warming symptoms are alleviated. All three techniques result in comparable global mean temperature evolutions. However, there are some notable differences in other climate variables due to the nature of the forcings applied. CCT acts mainly on the longwave part of the radiation budget, as opposed to MSB and SAI acting in the shortwave. This yields a difference in the response, particularly in the hydrological cycle. The responses in sea ice, sea level, ocean heat, and circulation, as well as the carbon cycle, are furthermore compared. Sudden termination of the aerosol injection geoengineering shows that the climate very rapidly (within two decades) reverts to the path of RCP8.5, questioning the sustainable nature of such climate geoengineering, and simultaneous mitigation during any such form of climate geoengineering would be needed to limit termination risks.

Open access