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Transient Response of the Hadley Centre Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Model to Increasing Carbon Dioxide. Part III: Analysis of Global-Mean Response Using Simple Models

J. M. MurphyHadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, Meteorological Office, Bracknell, Berkshire, United Kingdom

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Abstract

The roles of surface, atmospheric, and oceanic feedbacks in controlling the global-mean transient response of a coupled ocean-atmosphere general circulation model to increasing carbon dioxide are investigated. The analysis employs a four-box energy balance model and an oceanic box-diffusion model, both tuned to the simulated general circulation model response. The land-sea contrast in the surface warming is explained almost entirely by the shortwave radiative feedbacks associated with changes in cloud and surface albedo. The oceanic thermal inertia delays the response; however, the initial delay is enhanced by increases in Antarctic sea-ice cover, which substantially reduce the effective climate sensitivity of the model in the first half of the 75-year experiment. When driven by the observed anthropogenic greenhouse forcing from the pre-industrial period to present day, the energy balance model overestimates the warming observed over land. However, inclusion of the direct forcing due to anthropogenic tropospheric sulphate aerosol eliminates the land/sea contrast in the response at 1990, leaving the simulated warming over land slightly below the observed value, although the rapid warming observed during the 1980s is well reproduced.

The vertical penetration of the oceanic response is small below 1000 m. Within the top 1000 m the effective diffusivities are substantially enhanced by reduced convection and thermohaline overturning, driven by increased precipitation minus evaporation at high latitudes. These changes in ocean heat transport become significant after year 30, whereupon the effective oceanic heat capacity increases substantially, although this increase is partially offset by the effect of changes in the sea-ice margin.

Abstract

The roles of surface, atmospheric, and oceanic feedbacks in controlling the global-mean transient response of a coupled ocean-atmosphere general circulation model to increasing carbon dioxide are investigated. The analysis employs a four-box energy balance model and an oceanic box-diffusion model, both tuned to the simulated general circulation model response. The land-sea contrast in the surface warming is explained almost entirely by the shortwave radiative feedbacks associated with changes in cloud and surface albedo. The oceanic thermal inertia delays the response; however, the initial delay is enhanced by increases in Antarctic sea-ice cover, which substantially reduce the effective climate sensitivity of the model in the first half of the 75-year experiment. When driven by the observed anthropogenic greenhouse forcing from the pre-industrial period to present day, the energy balance model overestimates the warming observed over land. However, inclusion of the direct forcing due to anthropogenic tropospheric sulphate aerosol eliminates the land/sea contrast in the response at 1990, leaving the simulated warming over land slightly below the observed value, although the rapid warming observed during the 1980s is well reproduced.

The vertical penetration of the oceanic response is small below 1000 m. Within the top 1000 m the effective diffusivities are substantially enhanced by reduced convection and thermohaline overturning, driven by increased precipitation minus evaporation at high latitudes. These changes in ocean heat transport become significant after year 30, whereupon the effective oceanic heat capacity increases substantially, although this increase is partially offset by the effect of changes in the sea-ice margin.

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