Climate Dynamics

, Volume 34, Issue 5, pp 669–687 | Cite as

Quantifying contributions to polar warming amplification in an idealized coupled general circulation model

  • Jianhua Lu
  • Ming CaiEmail author


An idealized coupled general circulation model is used to demonstrate that the surface warming due to the doubling of CO2 can still be stronger in high latitudes than in low latitudes even without the negative evaporation feedback in low latitudes and positive ice-albedo feedback in high latitudes, as well as without the poleward latent heat transport. The new climate feedback analysis method formulated in Lu and Cai (Clim Dyn 32:873–885, 2009) is used to isolate contributions from both radiative and non-radiative feedback processes to the total temperature change obtained with the coupled GCM. These partial temperature changes are additive and their sum is convergent to the total temperature change. The radiative energy flux perturbations due to the doubling of CO2 and water vapor feedback lead to a stronger warming in low latitudes than in high latitudes at the surface and throughout the entire troposphere. In the vertical, the temperature changes due to the doubling of CO2 and water vapor feedback are maximum near the surface and decrease with height at all latitudes. The simultaneous warming reduction in low latitudes and amplification in high latitudes by the enhanced poleward dry static energy transport reverses the poleward decreasing warming pattern at the surface and in the lower troposphere, but it is not able to do so in the upper troposphere. The enhanced vertical moist convection in the tropics acts to amplify the warming in the upper troposphere at an expense of reducing the warming in the lower troposphere and surface warming in the tropics. As a result, the final warming pattern shows the co-existence of a reduction of the meridional temperature gradient at the surface and in the lower troposphere with an increase of the meridional temperature gradient in the upper troposphere. In the tropics, the total warming in the upper troposphere is stronger than the surface warming.


Climate Sensitivity Lower Troposphere Energy Perturbation Couple General Circulation Model Meridional Temperature Gradient 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are in debts to Drs. Max J. Suarez and Qiang Fu for providing the source codes of the dynamical core and radiation transfer model used in this study. The computations were made at the high performance computing facility at the Florida State University. We are grateful for constructive comments from Dr. K.-K. Tung and from two anonymous reviewers. This work is supported by grants from the NOAA/Office of Global Programs (GC04-163 and GC06-038) and from the National Science Foundation (ATM-0833001).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MeteorologyFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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