The surface heat flux feedback. Part I: estimates from observations in the Atlantic and the North Pacific
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The surface heat flux feedback is estimated in the Atlantic and the North Pacific, using monthly heat flux and sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly data from COADS and the NCEP reanalysis. In the Atlantic, the heat flux feedback is dominated by the turbulent flux. It is negative, mostly ranging between 10 and 35 W m–2 K–1, but larger in the western subtropical gyre and part of the subpolar gyre, and weaker in the tropics. The radiative feedback is generally weak. In the North Pacific, the heat flux feedback is also dominated by the turbulent flux and is negative nearly everywhere, peaking in the subtropics. In both oceans, the turbulent heat flux feedback remains primarily negative in each season, and is stronger in fall and winter; patches of positive feedback can be seen, but often with limited correspondence between COADS and NCEP. The radiative feedback remains weak, and is positive in spring and summer at mid-latitudes. It is also shown that the turbulent heat flux feedback is weaker over large-scale areas, that no positive heat flux feedback sustains the SST anomaly "dipole" in the tropical Atlantic, and that the main SST anomaly mode in the North Pacific is damped by a negative heat flux feedback. The energy exchange with the atmosphere that results from the heat flux feedback can be substantial at mid-latitudes, but does not exceed 7 W m–2 at basin scale.
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