Climate Dynamics

, Volume 40, Issue 1–2, pp 143–153 | Cite as

Heat budget of the upper Arctic Ocean under a warming climate

  • Tim GrahamEmail author
  • Michael Vellinga


The heat budget of the upper Arctic Ocean is examined in an ensemble of coupled climate models under idealised increasing CO2 scenarios. All of the experiments show a strong amplification of surface air temperatures but a smaller increase in sea surface temperature than the rest of the world as heat is lost to the atmosphere as the sea-ice cover is reduced. We carry out a heat budget analysis of the Arctic Ocean in an ensemble of model runs to understand the changes that occur as the Arctic becomes ice free in summer. We find that as sea-ice retreats heat is lost from the ocean surface to the atmosphere contributing to the amplification of Arctic surface temperatures. Furthermore, heat is mixed upwards into the mixed layer as a result of increased upper ocean mixing and there is increased advection of heat into the Arctic as the ice edge retreats. Heat lost from the upper Arctic Ocean to the atmosphere is therefore replenished by mixing of warmer water from below and by increased advection of warm water from lower latitudes. The ocean is therefore able to contribute more to Arctic amplification.


Arctic Ocean Heat content Arctic amplification Sea-ice 



This work was supported by the Joint DECC/Defra Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme (GA01101). We would also like to acknowledge Jeff Ridley, Peili Wu and and Angus Ferraro for their valued comments during this research and Glen Harris for his guidance in setting up the PPE. Finally thank you to the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions


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Copyright information

© Crown Copyright 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Met Ofiice Hadley CentreExeterUK

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