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Shi, JR, Xie SP, Talley LD.  2018.  Evolving relative importance of the Southern Ocean and North Atlantic in anthropogenic ocean heat uptake. Journal of Climate. 31:7459-7479.   10.1175/jcli-d-18-0170.1   AbstractWebsite

Ocean uptake of anthropogenic heat over the past 15 years has mostly occurred in the Southern Ocean, based on Argo float observations. This agrees with historical simulations from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), where the Southern Ocean (south of 30 degrees S) accounts for 72% +/- 28% of global heat uptake, while the contribution from the North Atlantic north of 30 degrees N is only 6%. Aerosols preferentially cool the Northern Hemisphere, and the effect on surface heat flux over the subpolar North Atlantic opposes the greenhouse gas (GHG) effect in nearly equal magnitude. This heat uptake compensation is associated with weakening (strengthening) of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) in response to GHG (aerosol) radiative forcing. Aerosols are projected to decline in the near future, reinforcing the greenhouse effect on the North Atlantic heat uptake. As a result, the Southern Ocean, which will continue to take up anthropogenic heat largely through the mean upwelling of water from depth, will be joined by increased relative contribution from the North Atlantic because of substantial AMOC slowdown in the twenty-first century. In the RCP8.5 scenario, the percentage contribution to global uptake is projected to decrease to 48% +/- 8% in the Southern Ocean and increase to 26% +/- 6% in the northern North Atlantic. Despite the large uncertainty in the magnitude of projected aerosol forcing, our results suggest that anthropogenic aerosols, given their geographic distributions and temporal trajectories, strongly influence the high-latitude ocean heat uptake and interhemispheric asymmetry through AMOC change.

Bourassa, MA, Gille ST, Bitz C, Carlson D, Cerovecki I, Clayson CA, Cronin MF, Drennan WM, Fairall CW, Hoffman RN, Magnusdottir G, Pinker RT, Renfrew IA, Serreze M, Speer K, Talley LD, Wick GA.  2013.  High-latitude ocean and sea ice surface fluxes: Challenges for climate research. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 94:403-423.   10.1175/bams-d-11-00244.1   AbstractWebsite

Polar regions have great sensitivity to climate forcing; however, understanding of the physical processes coupling the atmosphere and ocean in these regions is relatively poor. Improving our knowledge of high-latitute surface fluxes will require close collaboration among meteorologists, oceanographers, ice physicists, and climatologists, and between observationalists and modelers, as well as new combinations of in situ measurements and satellite remote sensing. This article describes the deficiencies in our current state of knowledge about air-sea surface fluxes in high latitutes, the sensitivity of various high-latitude processes to changes in surface fluxes, and the scientific requirements for surface fluxes at high latitutdes. We inventory the reasons, both logistical and physical, why existing flux products do not meet these requirements. Capturing an annual cycle in fluxes requires that instruments function through long periods of cold polar darkness, often far from support services, in situations subject to icing and extreme wave conditions. Furthermore, frequent cloud cover at high latitudes restricts the avilability of surface and atmospheric data from visible and infrared (IR) wavelength satellite sensors. Recommendations are made for improving high-latitude fluxes, including 1) acquiring more in situ observations, 2) developing improved satellite-flux-observing capabilities, 3) making observations and flux products more accessible, and 4) encouraging flux intercomparisons.

Billheimer, S, Talley LD.  2013.  Near cessation of Eighteen Degree Water renewal in the western North Atlantic in the warm winter of 2011-2012. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 118:6838-6853.   10.1002/2013jc009024   AbstractWebsite

The winter of 2011-2012 was a particularly weak season for the renewal of "Eighteen Degree Water" (EDW), the Subtropical Mode Water of the western North Atlantic, as demonstrated by Argo and repeat hydrography. Weak, late winter buoyancy forcing produced shallower than usual winter mixed layers throughout the subtropical gyre, failing to thoroughly ventilate the underlying mode water, and can likely be attributed to the coinciding high, positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). The only region where EDW was renewed was in the far northeastern Sargasso Sea where it is understood that the Gulf Stream plays a central role in formation; no EDW formed over the large regions of the gyre where deep winter mixed layers driven by surface buoyancy loss normally create EDW. The present investigation evaluates 2011-2012 winter buoyancy content anomalies, surface buoyancy fluxes, and advection of buoyancy via the Gulf Stream and compares them with the previous seven winters that exhibited more vigorous EDW formation. The weak 2011-2012 formation did not result from increased Gulf Stream heat advection, and was also not driven by preconditioning as the buoyancy content of the region prior to the onset of winter forcing was not unusually high. Rather, the weak formation resulted from climatologically weak surface cooling late in winter. The winter of 2007-2008 also experienced particularly weak EDW formation under similar conditions, including a high NAO and weak late winter surface cooling.