A simple model of the lower atmospheric layers and land/sea ice surface is described and analyzed. The model is able to depict with reasonable accuracy the global ocean heat fluxes. Due to the model's simplicity, insight into the mechanisms underlying particular heat flux responses is possible. Such an analysis is carried out for the regional Gulf Stream heat flux response (which is gualitatively correct in the model), and it is shown that atmospheric transient eddy heat transport is crucial to the modeled response. The perturbation response of the model to tropical SST anomalies is also analyzed, and it is demonstrated that the atmospheric transport processes incorporated in the model are responsible for a scale-dependent response. The magnitude of this response is shown to be significantly different to that obtained with formulations previously used by ocean modelers.