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Riccardo Farneti

Abstract

Rossby wave propagation is investigated in the framework of an idealized middle-latitude quasigeostrophic coupled ocean–atmosphere model. The Rossby waves are observed to propagate faster than both the classical linear theory (unperturbed solution) and the phase speed estimates when the effect of the zonal mean flow is added (perturbed solution). Moreover, using statistical eigentechniques, a clear coupled Rossby wave mode is identified between a baroclinic oceanic Rossby wave and an equivalent barotropic atmospheric wave. The spatial phase relationship of the coupled wave is similar to the one predicted by Goodman and Marshall, suggesting a positive ocean–atmosphere feedback. It is argued that oceanic Rossby waves can be efficiently coupled to the overlying atmosphere and that the atmospheric coupling is capable of adding an extra speedup to the wave; in fact, when the ocean is simply forced, the Rossby wave propagation speed approaches the perturbed solution.

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Riccardo Farneti and Geoffrey K. Vallis

Abstract

The variability and compensation of the meridional energy transport in the atmosphere and ocean are examined with the state-of-the-art GFDL Climate Model, version 2.1 (CM2.1), and the GFDL Intermediate Complexity Coupled Model (ICCM). On decadal time scales, a high degree of compensation between the energy transport in the atmosphere (AHT) and ocean (OHT) is found in the North Atlantic. The variability of the total or planetary heat transport (PHT) is much smaller than the variability in either AHT or OHT alone, a feature referred to as “Bjerknes compensation.” Natural decadal variability stems from the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), which leads OHT variability. The PHT is positively correlated with the OHT, implying that the atmosphere is compensating, but imperfectly, for variations in ocean transport. Because of the fundamental role of the AMOC in generating the decadal OHT anomalies, Bjerknes compensation is expected to be active only in coupled models with a low-frequency AMOC spectral peak. The AHT and the transport in the oceanic gyres are positively correlated because the gyre transport responds to the atmospheric winds, thereby militating against long-term variability involving the wind-driven flow. Moisture and sensible heat transports in the atmosphere are also positively correlated at decadal time scales. The authors further explore the mechanisms and degree of compensation with a simple, diffusive, two-layer energy balance model. Taken together, these results suggest that compensation can be interpreted as arising from the highly efficient nature of the meridional energy transport in the atmosphere responding to ocean variability rather than any a priori need for the top-of-atmosphere radiation budget to be fixed.

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Riccardo Farneti and Thomas L. Delworth

Abstract

It has been suggested that a strengthening of the Southern Hemisphere winds would induce a more vigorous overturning through an increased northward Ekman flux, bringing more light waters into the oceanic basins and enhancing the upwelling of North Atlantic Deep Water in the Southern Ocean, thereby increasing ocean ventilation. Simulations from a coarse- and a fine-resolution version of a coupled model, subject to idealized wind stress changes in the Southern Ocean, are presented. In the fine-resolution eddy-permitting model, changes in poleward eddy fluxes largely compensate for the enhanced equatorward Ekman transport in the Southern Ocean. As a consequence, northward transport of light waters, pycnocline depth, Northern Hemisphere overturning, and Southern Ocean upwelling anomalies are much reduced compared with simulations in the coarse-resolution model with parameterized eddies. These results suggest a relatively weak sensitivity of present-day global ocean overturning circulation to the projected strengthening of the Southern Hemisphere winds.

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Giorgio Graffino, Riccardo Farneti, Fred Kucharski, and Franco Molteni

Abstract

The importance of subtropical and extratropical zonal wind stress anomalies on Pacific subtropical cell (STC) strength is assessed through several idealized and realistic numerical experiments with a global ocean model. Different zonal wind stress anomalies are employed, and their intensity is strengthened or weakened with respect to the climatological value throughout a suite of simulations. Subtropical strengthened (weakened) zonal wind stress anomalies result in increased (decreased) STC meridional mass and energy transport. When upwelling of subsurface water into the tropics is intensified (reduced), a distinct cold (warm) anomaly appears in the equatorial thermocline and up to the surface, resulting in significant tropical sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies. The use of realistic wind stress anomalies also suggests a potential impact of midlatitude atmospheric modes of variability on tropical climate through STC dynamics. The remotely driven response is compared with a set of simulations where an equatorial zonal wind stress anomaly is imposed. A dynamically distinct response is achieved, whereby the equatorial thermocline adjusts to the wind stress anomaly, resulting in significant equatorial SST anomalies as in the remotely forced simulations but with no role for STCs. Significant anomalies in Indonesian Throughflow transport are generated only when equatorial wind stress anomalies are applied, leading to remarkable heat content anomalies in the Indian Ocean. Equatorial wind stress anomalies do not involve modifications of STC transport but could set up the appropriate initial conditions for a tropical–extratropical teleconnection involving Hadley cells, exciting an STC anomalous transport, which ultimately feeds back on the tropics.

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Riccardo Farneti, Stefano Salon, Alessandro Crise, and Rodney Martinez
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Eun Young Kwon, Stephanie M. Downes, Jorge L. Sarmiento, Riccardo Farneti, and Curtis Deutsch

Abstract

A kinematic approach is used to diagnose the subduction rates of upper–Southern Ocean waters across seasonally migrating density outcrops at the base of the mixed layer. From an Eulerian viewpoint, the term representing the temporal change in the mixed layer depth (which is labeled as the temporal induction in this study; i.e., S temp = ∂h/∂t where h is the mixed layer thickness, and t is time) vanishes over several annual cycles. Following seasonally migrating density outcrops, however, the temporal induction is attributed partly to the temporal change in the mixed layer thickness averaged over a density outcrop following its seasonally varying position and partly to the lateral movement of the outcrop position intersecting the sloping mixed layer base. Neither the temporal induction following an outcrop nor its integral over the outcrop area vanishes over several annual cycles. Instead, the seasonal eddy subduction, which arises primarily because of the subannual correlations between the seasonal cycles of the mixed layer depth and the outcrop area, explains the key mechanism by which mode waters are transferred from the mixed layer to the underlying pycnocline. The time-mean exchange rate of waters across the base of the mixed layer is substantially different from the exchange rate of waters across the fixed winter mixed layer base in mode water density classes. Nearly 40% of the newly formed Southern Ocean mode waters appear to be diapycnally transformed within the seasonal pycnocline before either being subducted into the main pycnocline or entrained back to the mixed layer through lighter density classes.

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Riccardo Farneti, Suneet Dwivedi, Fred Kucharski, Franco Molteni, and Stephen M. Griffies

Abstract

The evolution of the Pacific subtropical cells (STC) is presented for the period 1948–2007. Using ocean models of different resolutions forced with interannually varying atmospheric forcing datasets, the mechanisms responsible for the observed STC weakening and late recovery during the period of study are analyzed. As a result of the STC weakening (strengthening), warming (cooling) trends are found in the equatorial Pacific sea surface temperatures (SSTs). Model results agree well with observed estimates of STC transport, STC convergence, and equatorial SST anomalies. It is shown that subtropical atmospheric variability is the primary driver of the STC and equatorial SST low-frequency evolution and is responsible for both the slowdown during the second half of the twentieth century and the rebound at the end of the century. Subtropically forced STC variability is identified as a major player in the generation of equatorial Pacific decadal SST anomalies, pacing tropical Pacific natural climate variability on interdecadal time scales, as observed in historical records. The natural mode of variability has implications for the evolution of equatorial SST in the coming decades under the concomitant effects of climate change.

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Riccardo Farneti, Thomas L. Delworth, Anthony J. Rosati, Stephen M. Griffies, and Fanrong Zeng

Abstract

Simulations from a fine-resolution global coupled model, the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Climate Model, version 2.4 (CM2.4), are presented, and the results are compared with a coarse version of the same coupled model, CM2.1, under idealized climate change scenarios. A particular focus is given to the dynamical response of the Southern Ocean and the role played by the eddies—parameterized or permitted—in setting the residual circulation and meridional density structure. Compared to the case in which eddies are parameterized and consistent with recent observational and idealized modeling studies, the eddy-permitting integrations of CM2.4 show that eddy activity is greatly energized with increasing mechanical and buoyancy forcings, buffering the ocean to atmospheric changes, and the magnitude of the residual oceanic circulation response is thus greatly reduced. Although compensation is far from being perfect, changes in poleward eddy fluxes partially compensate for the enhanced equatorward Ekman transport, leading to weak modifications in local isopycnal slopes, transport by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, and overturning circulation. Since the presence of active ocean eddy dynamics buffers the oceanic response to atmospheric changes, the associated atmospheric response to those reduced ocean changes is also weakened. Further, it is hypothesized that present numerical approaches for the parameterization of eddy-induced transports could be too restrictive and prevent coarse-resolution models from faithfully representing the eddy response to variability and change in the forcing fields.

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Fred Kucharski, Franco Molteni, Martin P. King, Riccardo Farneti, In-Sik Kang, and Laura Feudale
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Michael P. Meredith, Alberto C. Naveira Garabato, Andrew McC. Hogg, and Riccardo Farneti

Abstract

The sensitivity of the overturning circulation in the Southern Ocean to the recent decadal strengthening of the overlying winds is being discussed intensely, with some works attributing an inferred saturation of the Southern Ocean CO2 sink to an intensification of the overturning circulation, while others have argued that this circulation is insensitive to changes in winds. Fundamental to reconciling these diverse views is to understand properly the role of eddies in counteracting the directly wind-forced changes in overturning. Here, the authors use novel theoretical considerations and fine-resolution ocean models to develop a new scaling for the sensitivity of eddy-induced mixing to changes in winds, and they demonstrate that changes in Southern Ocean overturning in response to recent and future changes in wind stress forcing are likely to be substantial, even in the presence of a decadally varying eddy field. This result has significant implications for the ocean’s role in the carbon cycle, and hence global climate.

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