Global Warming Pattern Formation: The Role of Ocean Heat Uptake

Journal Article (Journal Article)

This study investigates the formation mechanism of the ocean surface warming pattern in response to a doubling CO2 with a focus on the role of ocean heat uptake (or ocean surface heat flux change, ΔQnet). We demonstrate that the transient patterns of surface warming and rainfall change simulated by the dynamic ocean-atmosphere coupled model (DOM) can be reproduced by the equilibrium solutions of the slab ocean-atmosphere coupled model (SOM) simulations when forced with the DOM ΔQnet distribution. The SOM is then used as a diagnostic inverse modeling tool to decompose the CO2-induced thermodynamic warming effect and the ΔQnet (ocean heat uptake)-induced cooling effect. As ΔQnet is largely positive (i.e., downward into the ocean) in the subpolar oceans and weakly negative at the equator, its cooling effect is strongly polar amplified and opposes the CO2 warming, reducing the net warming response especially over Antarctica. For the same reason, the ΔQnet-induced cooling effect contributes significantly to the equatorially enhanced warming in all three ocean basins, while the CO2 warming effect plays a role in the equatorial warming of the eastern Pacific. The spatially varying component of ΔQnet, although globally averaged to zero, can effectively rectify and lead to decreased global mean surface temperature of a comparable magnitude as the global mean ΔQnet effect under transient climate change. Our study highlights the importance of air-sea interaction in the surface warming pattern formation and the key role of ocean heat uptake pattern.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hu, S; Xie, SP; Kang, SM

Published Date

  • March 15, 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 35 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 1885 - 1899

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1520-0442

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0894-8755

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1175/JCLI-D-21-0317.1

Citation Source

  • Scopus