The transport of CO2-induced warming into the ocean: an analysis of simulations by the OSU coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model

Michael E. Schlesinger, Xingjian Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The OSU global coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model has been used to investigate a 2xCO2-induced climate change. A previous analysis of the simulated 2xCO2-1xCO2 temperature differences showed that the CO2-induced warming penetrated into the ocean and thereby caused a delay in the equilibration of the climate system with an estimated e-folding time of 50-75 years. The objective of the present study is to determine by what pathways and through which physical processes the simulated ocean general circulation produces the penetration of the CO2-induced warming into the ocean. A global-mean oceanic heat budget analysis shows that the ocean gains heat at a rate of 3 W/m2 due to the CO2 doubling, and that this heat penetrates downward into the ocean predominantly through the reduction in the convective overturning. A zonal-mean oceanic heat budget analysis shows that the surface warming increases from the tropics toward the midlatitudes of both hemispheres and gradually penetrated into the deeper ocean, with a greater penetration in the subtropics and midlatitudes than in the equatorial region. The zonal-mean heat budget analysis also shows that the CO2-induced warming of the ocean occurs predominantly through the down-ward transport of heat, with the meridional heat flux being only of secondary importance. In the tropics the penetration of the CO2-induced heating is minimized by the upwelling of cold water. In the subtropics the heating is transported down-ward more readily by the downwelling existing there. In the high latitudes the suppressed convection plays the dominant role in the downward penetration of the CO2-induced heating. The latter result should be considered as tentative, however, as the ocean component of the coupled model employed a prescribed surface salinity field and did not include the mechanism of brine rejection when sea water freezes into sea ice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalClimate Dynamics
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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