Climate Dynamics

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 477–496

Influence of high latitude ice cover on the marine Intertropical Convergence Zone


DOI: 10.1007/s00382-005-0040-5

Cite this article as:
Chiang, J.C.H. & Bitz, C.M. Climate Dynamics (2005) 25: 477. doi:10.1007/s00382-005-0040-5


We investigate the causes for a strong high latitude imposed ice (land or sea) influence on the marine Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) in the Community Climate Model version 3 coupled to a 50-m slab ocean. The marine ITCZ in all the ocean basins shift meridionally away from the hemisphere with an imposed added ice cover, altering the global Hadley circulation with an increased tropical subsidence in the hemisphere with imposed ice and uplift in the other. The effect appears to be independent of the longitudinal position of imposed ice. The anomalous ice induces a rapid cooling and drying of the air and surface over the entire high- and midlatitudes; subsequent progression of cold anomalies occurs in the Pacific and Atlantic northeasterly trade regions, where a wind-evaporation-sea surface temperature (SST) feedback initiates progression of a cold SST ‘front’ towards the ITCZ latitudes. Once the cooler SST reaches the ITCZ latitude, the ITCZ shifts southwards, aided by positive feedbacks associated with the displacement. The ITCZ displacement transports moisture away from the colder and drier hemisphere into the other hemisphere, resulting in a pronounced hemispheric asymmetric response in anomalous specific humidity; we speculate that the atmospheric humidity plays a central role in the hemispheric asymmetric nature of the climate response to high latitude ice cover anomalies. From an energy balance viewpoint, the increased outgoing radiative flux at the latitudes of the imposed ice is compensated by an increased radiative energy flux at the tropical latitudes occupied by the displaced ITCZ, and subsequently transported by the altered Hadley and eddy circulations to the imposed ice latitudes. The situation investigated here may be applicable to past climates like the Last Glacial Maximum where hemispheric asymmetric changes to ice cover occurred. Major caveats to the conclusions drawn include omission of interactive sea ice physics and ocean dynamical feedback and sensitivity to atmospheric physics parameterizations across different models.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and Center for Atmospheric SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Applied Physics LaboratoryPolar Science CenterSeattleWAUSA

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