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The curious nature of the hemispheric symmetry of the Earth’s water and energy balances

Stephens, G. L., Hakuba, M. Z., Hawcroft, M., Haywood, J. M., Behrangi, A., Kay, J. E. and Webster, P. J. (2016) The curious nature of the hemispheric symmetry of the Earth’s water and energy balances. Current Climate Change Reports, 2 (4). pp. 135-147. ISSN 2198-6061

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s40641-016-0043-9

Abstract/Summary

This paper presents new estimates of the hemispheric energy balance based on an assembly of radiative flux and ocean heat data. Further, it provides an overview of recent simulations with fully coupled climate models to investigate the role of its representation in causing tropical precipitation biases. The energy balance portrayed here features a small hemispheric imbalance with slightly more energy being absorbed by the Southern hemisphere. This yields a net transport of heat towards the NH composing of a northward crossequatorial heat transport by the oceans and a southward heat flow in the atmosphere. The turbulent fluxes and hemispheric precipitation balance to about 3 Wm−2 with slightly larger total accumulation occurring in the NH. CloudSat data indicate more frequent precipitation in the SH implying more intense precipitation in the NH. Fully coupled climate model simulations show that reducing hemispheric energy balance biases does little to reduce existing biases in tropical precipitation.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:71371
Publisher:Springer

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