Dynamical greenhouse-plus feedback and polar warming amplification. Part II: meridional and vertical asymmetries of the global warming
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This paper examines several prominent thermodynamic and dynamic factors responsible for the meridional and vertical warming asymmetries using a moist coupled atmosphere–surface radiative transportive four-box climate model. A coupled atmosphere–surface feedback analysis is formulated to isolate the direct response to an anthropogenic greenhouse gas forcing from individual local feedbacks (water vapor, evaporation, surface sensible heat flux, and ice-albedo), and from the non-local dynamical feedback. Both the direct response and response to water vapor feedback are stronger in low latitudes. The joint effect of the ice-albedo and dynamical greenhouse-plus feedbacks acts to amplify the high latitude surface warming whereas both the evaporation and dynamical greenhouse-minus feedbacks cause a reduction of the surface warming in low latitudes. The enhancement (reduction) of local feedbacks in high (low) latitudes in response to the non-local dynamic feedback further strengthens the polar amplification of the surface warming. Both the direct response and response to water vapor feedback lead to an increase of lapse rate in both low and high latitudes. The stronger total dynamic heating in the mean state in high latitudes is responsible for a larger increase of lapse rate in high latitudes in the direct response and response to water vapor feedback. The local evaporation and surface sensible heat flux feedbacks reduce the lapse rate both in low and high latitudes through cooling the surface and warming the atmosphere. The much stronger evaporation feedback leads to a final warming in low latitudes that is stronger in the atmosphere than the surface.
We are grateful for the constructive and valuable comments made by Ed Schneider, Peter Langen and an anonymous reviewer. This work was supported in part by NSF grants ATM-0403211 and ATM-0424799.
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