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A new feedback on climate change from the hydrological cycle

Williams, P. D., Guilyardi, E., Sutton, R. T., Gregory, J. M. and Madec, G. (2007) A new feedback on climate change from the hydrological cycle. Geophysical Research Letters, 34 (8). L08706. ISSN 0094-8276

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/2007GL029275


An intensification of the hydrological cycle is a likely consequence of global warming. But changes in the hydrological cycle could affect sea-surface temperature by modifying diffusive ocean heat transports. We investigate this mechanism by studying a coupled general circulation model sensitivity experiment in which the hydrological cycle is artificially amplified. We find that the amplified hydrological cycle depresses sea-surface temperature by enhancing ocean heat uptake in low latitudes. We estimate that a 10% increase in the hydrological cycle will contribute a basin-scale sea-surface temperature decrease of around 0.1°C away from high latitudes, with larger decreases locally. We conclude that an intensified hydrological cycle is likely to contribute a weak negative feedback to anthropogenic climate change.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:754
Publisher:American Geophysical Union

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