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The transport of CO2-induced warming into the ocean: an analysis of simulations by the OSU coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model

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Abstract

The OSU global coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model has been used to investigate a 2xCO2-induced climate change. A previous analysis of the simulated 2xCO2−1xCO2 temperature differences showed that the CO2-induced warming penetrated into the ocean and thereby caused a delay in the equilibration of the climate system with an estimatede-folding time of 50–75 years. The objective of the present study is to determine by what pathways and through which physical processes the simulated ocean general circulation produces the penetration of the CO2-induced warming into the ocean.

A global-mean oceanic heat budget analysis shows that the ocean gains heat at a rate of 3 W/m2 due to the CO2 doubling, and that this heat penetrates downward into the ocean predominantly through the reduction in the convective overturning. A zonal-mean oceanic heat budget analysis shows that the surface warming increases from the tropics toward the midlatitudes of both hemispheres and gradually penetrated into the deeper ocean, with a greater penetration in the subtropics and midlatitudes than in the equatorial region. The zonal-mean heat budget analysis also shows that the CO2-induced warming of the ocean occurs predominantly through the down-ward transport of heat, with the meridional heat flux being only of secondary importance. In the tropics the penetration of the CO2-induced heating is minimized by the upwelling of cold water. In the subtropics the heating is transported down-ward more readily by the downwelling existing there. In the high latitudes the suppressed convection plays the dominant role in the downward penetration of the CO2-induced heating. The latter result should be considered as tentative, however, as the ocean component of the coupled model employed a prescribed surface salinity field and did not include the mechanism of brine rejection when sea water freezes into sea ice.

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Correspondence to Michael E. Schlesinger.

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Schlesinger, M.E., Jiang, X. The transport of CO2-induced warming into the ocean: an analysis of simulations by the OSU coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model. Climate Dynamics 3, 1–17 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01089369

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Keywords

  • Heat Flux
  • Salinity Field
  • Great Penetration
  • Prescribe Surface
  • Simulated Ocean