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Separating the influence of projected changes in air temperature and wind on patterns of sea level change and ocean heat content

Saenko, O. A., Yang, D., Gregory, J. M., Spence, P. and Myers, P. G. (2015) Separating the influence of projected changes in air temperature and wind on patterns of sea level change and ocean heat content. Journal of Geophysical Research, 120 (8). pp. 5749-5765. ISSN 0148-0227

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/2015JC010928


We present ocean model sensitivity experiments aimed at separating the influence of the projected changes in the “thermal” (near-surface air temperature) and “wind” (near-surface winds) forcing on the patterns of sea level and ocean heat content. In the North Atlantic, the distribution of sea level change is more due to the “thermal” forcing, whereas it is more due to the “wind” forcing in the North Pacific; in the Southern Ocean, the “thermal” and “wind” forcing have a comparable influence. In the ocean adjacent to Antarctica the “thermal” forcing leads to an inflow of warmer waters on the continental shelves, which is somewhat attenuated by the “wind” forcing. The structure of the vertically integrated heat uptake is set by different processes at low and high latitudes: at low latitudes it is dominated by the heat transport convergence, whereas at high latitudes it represents a small residual of changes in the surface flux and advection of heat. The structure of the horizontally integrated heat content tendency is set by the increase of downward heat flux by the mean circulation and comparable decrease of upward heat flux by the subgrid-scale processes; the upward eddy heat flux decreases and increases by almost the same magnitude in response to, respectively, the “thermal” and “wind” forcing. Regionally, the surface heat loss and deep convection weaken in the Labrador Sea, but intensify in the Greenland Sea in the region of sea ice retreat. The enhanced heat flux anomaly in the subpolar Atlantic is mainly caused by the “thermal” forcing.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
ID Code:41302
Publisher:American Geophysical Union

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