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Global climate and ocean circulation on an aquaplanet ocean-atmosphere general circulation model

Smith, R. S., Dubois, C. and Marotzke, J. (2006) Global climate and ocean circulation on an aquaplanet ocean-atmosphere general circulation model. Journal of climate, 19 (18). pp. 4719-4737. ISSN 1520-0442

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/JCLI3874.1

Abstract/Summary

A low resolution coupled ocean-atmosphere general circulation model OAGCM is used to study the characteristics of the large scale ocean circulation and its climatic impacts in a series of global coupled aquaplanet experiments. Three configurations, designed to produce fundamentally different ocean circulation regimes, are considered. The first has no obstruction to zonal flow, the second contains a low barrier that blocks zonal flow in the ocean at all latitudes, creating a single enclosed basin, whilst the third contains a gap in the barrier to allow circumglobal flow at high southern latitudes. Warm greenhouse climates with a global average air surface temperature of around 27C result in all cases. Equator to pole temperature gradients are shallower than that of a current climate simulation. Whilst changes in the land configuration cause regional changes in temperature, winds and rainfall, heat transports within the system are little affected. Inhibition of all ocean transport on the aquaplanet leads to a reduction in global mean surface temperature of 8C, along with a sharpening of the meridional temperature gradient. This results from a reduction in global atmospheric water vapour content and an increase in tropical albedo, both of which act to reduce global surface temperatures. Fitting a simple radiative model to the atmospheric characteristics of the OAGCM solutions suggests that a simpler atmosphere model, with radiative parameters chosen a priori based on the changing surface configuration, would have produced qualitatively different results. This implies that studies with reduced complexity atmospheres need to be guided by more complex OAGCM results on a case by case basis.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:5871
Publisher:American Meteorological Society

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