, Volume 13, Issue 7-8, pp 507-519

Adjustment and feedbacks in a global coupled ocean-atmosphere model

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 We report the analysis of two 20-year simulations performed with the low resolution version of the IPSL coupled ocean-atmosphere model, with no flux correction at the air-sea interface. The simulated climate is characterized by a global sea surface temperature warming of about 4 °C in 20 years, driven by a net heat gain at the top of the atmosphere. Despite this drift, the circulation is quite realistic both in the ocean and the atmosphere. Several distinct periods are analyzed. The first corresponds to an adjustment during which the heat gain weakens both at the top of the atmosphere and at the ocean surface, and the tropical circulation is slightly modified. Then, the surface warming is enhanced by an increase of the greenhouse feedback. We show that the mechanisms involved in the model share common features with sensitivity experiments to greenhouse gases or to SST warming. At the top of the atmosphere, most of the longwave trapping in the atmosphere is driven by the tropical circulation. At the surface, the reduction of longwave cooling is a direct response to increased temperature and moisture content at low levels in the atmospheric model. During the last part of the simulation, a regulation occurs from evaporation at the surface and longwave cooling at TOA. Most of the model drift is attributed to a too large heating by solar radiation in middle and high latitudes. The reduction of the north–south temperature gradient, and the related changes in the meridional equator-to-pole ocean heat transport lead to a warming of equatorial and subtropical regions. This is also well demonstrated by the difference between the two simulations which differ only in the parametrization of sea-ice. When the sea-ice cover is not restored to climatology the model does not maintain sea-ice at high latitudes. The climate warms more rapidly and the water vapor and clouds feedback occurs earlier.

Received: 24 May 1996 / Accepted: 29 November 1996