Publications

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2018
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.

2014
Kang, SM, Held IM, Xie SP.  2014.  Contrasting the tropical responses to zonally asymmetric extratropical and tropical thermal forcing. Climate Dynamics. 42:2033-2043.   10.1007/s00382-013-1863-0   AbstractWebsite

The mechanism is investigated by which extratropical thermal forcing with a finite zonal extent produces global impact. The goal is to understand the near-global response to a weakened Atlantic meridional overturning circulation suggested by paleoclimate data and modeling studies. An atmospheric model coupled to an aquaplanet slab mixed layer ocean, in which the unperturbed climate is zonally symmetric, is perturbed by prescribing cooling of the mixed layer in the Northern Hemisphere and heating of equal magnitude in the Southern Hemisphere, over some finite range of longitudes. In the case of heating/cooling confined to the extratropics, the zonally asymmetric forcing is homogenized by midlatitude westerlies and extratropical eddies before passing on to the tropics, inducing a zonally symmetric tropical response. In addition, the zonal mean responses vary little as the zonal extent of the forced region is changed, holding the zonal mean heating fixed, implying little impact of stationary eddies on the zonal mean. In contrast, when the heating/cooling is confined to the tropics, the zonally asymmetric forcing produces a highly localized response with slight westward extension, due to advection by mean easterly trade winds. Regardless of the forcing location, neither the spatial structure nor the zonal mean responses are strongly affected by wind-evaporation-sea surface temperature feedback.

2013
Fuckar, NS, Xie SP, Farneti R, Maroon EA, Frierson DMW.  2013.  Influence of the extratropical ocean circulation on the intertropical convergence zone in an idealized coupled general circulation model. Journal of Climate. 26:4612-4629.   10.1175/jcli-d-12-00294.1   AbstractWebsite

The authors present coupled model simulations in which the ocean's meridional overturning circulation (MOC) sets the zonal mean location of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) in the hemisphere with deep-water production. They use a coarse-resolution single-basin sector coupled general circulation model (CGCM) with simplified atmospheric physics and two idealized land-sea distributions.In an equatorially symmetric closed-basin setting, unforced climate asymmetry develops because of the advective circulation-salinity feedback that amplifies the asymmetry of the deep-MOC cell and the upper-ocean meridional salinity transport. It confines the deep-water production and the dominant extratropical ocean heat release to a randomly selected hemisphere. The resultant ocean heat transport (OHT) toward the hemisphere with the deep-water source is partially compensated by the atmospheric heat transport (AHT) across the equator via an asymmetric Hadley circulation, setting the ITCZ in the hemisphere warmed by the ocean.When a circumpolar channel is open at subpolar latitudes, the circumpolar current disrupts the poleward transport of the upper-ocean saline water and suppresses deep-water formation poleward of the channel. The MOC adjusts by lowering the main pycnocline and shifting the deep-water production into the opposite hemisphere from the channel, and the ITCZ location follows the deep-water source again because of the Hadley circulation adjustment to cross-equatorial OHT. The climate response is sensitive to the sill depth of the channel but becomes saturated when the sill is deeper than the main pycnocline depth in subtropics. In simulations with a circumpolar channel, the ITCZ is in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) because of the Southern Hemisphere (SH) circumpolar flow that forces northward OHT.