, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 503-516
Date: 03 Nov 2006

Influence of the oceanic biology on the tropical Pacific climate in a coupled general circulation model

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

The influence of chlorophyll spatial patterns and variability on the tropical Pacific climate is investigated by using a fully coupled general circulation model (HadOPA) coupled to a state-of-the-art biogeochemical model (PISCES). The simulated chlorophyll concentrations can feedback onto the ocean by modifying the vertical distribution of radiant heating. This fully interactive biological-ocean-atmosphere experiment is compared to a reference experiment that uses a constant chlorophyll concentration (0.06 mg m−3). It is shown that introducing an interactive biology acts to warm the surface eastern equatorial Pacific by about 0.5°C. Two competing processes are involved in generating this warming: (a) a direct 1-D biological warming process in the top layers (0–30 m) resulting from strong chlorophyll concentrations in the upwelling region and enhanced by positive dynamical feedbacks (weaker trade winds, surface currents and upwelling) and (b) a 2-D meridional cooling process which brings cold off-equatorial anomalies from the subsurface into the equatorial mixed layer through the meridional cells. Sensitivity experiments show that the climatological horizontal structure of the chlorophyll field in the upper layers is crucial to maintain the eastern Pacific warming. Concerning the variability, introducing an interactive biology slightly reduces the strength of the seasonal cycle, with stronger SST warming and chlorophyll concentrations during the upwelling season. In addition, ENSO amplitude is slightly increased. Similar experiments performed with another coupled general circulation model (IPSL-CM4) exhibit the same behaviour as in HadOPA, hence showing the robustness of the results.