Climate Dynamics

, Volume 49, Issue 9–10, pp 3457–3472 | Cite as

The role of atmospheric heat transport and regional feedbacks in the Arctic warming at equilibrium

  • Masakazu Yoshimori
  • Ayako Abe-Ouchi
  • Alexandre Laîné


It is well known that the Arctic warms much more than the rest of the world even under spatially quasi-uniform radiative forcing such as that due to an increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration. While the surface albedo feedback is often referred to as the explanation of the enhanced Arctic warming, the importance of atmospheric heat transport from the lower latitudes has also been reported in previous studies. In the current study, an attempt is made to understand how the regional feedbacks in the Arctic are induced by the change in atmospheric heat transport and vice versa. Equilibrium sensitivity experiments that enable us to separate the contributions of the Northern Hemisphere mid-high latitude response to the CO2 increase and the remote influence of surface warming in other regions are carried out. The result shows that the effect of remote forcing is predominant in the Arctic warming. The dry-static energy transport to the Arctic is reduced once the Arctic surface warms in response to the local or remote forcing. The feedback analysis based on the energy budget reveals that the increased moisture transport from lower latitudes, on the other hand, warms the Arctic in winter more effectively not only via latent heat release but also via greenhouse effect of water vapor and clouds. The change in total atmospheric heat transport determined as a result of counteracting dry-static and latent heat components, therefore, is not a reliable measure for the net effect of atmospheric dynamics on the Arctic warming. The current numerical experiments support a recent interpretation based on the regression analysis: the concurrent reduction in the atmospheric poleward heat transport and future Arctic warming predicted in some models does not imply a minor role of the atmospheric dynamics. Despite the similar magnitude of poleward heat transport change, the Arctic warms more than the Southern Ocean even in the equilibrium response without ocean dynamics. It is shown that a large negative shortwave cloud feedback over the Southern Ocean, greatly influenced by low-latitude surface warming, is responsible for this asymmetric polar warming.


Moist Static Energy Meridional Temperature Gradient Arctic Warming Atmospheric Heat Transport Slab Ocean Model 
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.



We thank two anonymous reviewers for their useful suggestions. All experiments were carried out using the NIES supercomputer system except for a pair of bipolar experiments which were conducted with the JAMSTEC Earth Simulator 3. We are thankful to the MIROC model developing team. We thank developers of freely available software, NCL. This research was supported by the GRENE Arctic Climate Change Research Project and the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (S-10) of the Japanese Ministry of the Environment.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Environmental Earth Science, Global Institution for Collaborative Research and Education, and Arctic Research CenterHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan
  2. 2.Atmosphere and Ocean Research InstituteThe University of TokyoKashiwaJapan
  3. 3.National Institute of Polar ResearchTokyoJapan
  4. 4.Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and TechnologyYokohamaJapan

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