Blog Archive

Sunday, August 3, 2008

John C. Fyfe et al., Journal of Climate, Vol. 20, No. 21, 2007: Role of Poleward-Intensifying Winds of Southern Ocean Warming

Journal of Climate, Vol. 20, Issue 21 (Nov. 2007) 5391-5400, DOI: 10.1175/2007JCLI1764.1

The Role of Poleward-Intensifying Winds on Southern Ocean Warming

John C. Fyfe and Oleg A. Saenko

Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis, Environment Canada, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Kirsten Zickfeld, Michael Eby, and Andrew J. Weaver

School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

(Manuscript received 8 November 2006, in final form 9 March 2007)


Recent analyses of the latest series of climate model simulations suggest that increasing CO2 emissions in the atmosphere are partly responsible for (i) the observed poleward shifting and strengthening of the Southern Hemisphere subpolar westerlies (in association with shifting of the southern annular mode toward a higher index state), and (ii) the observed warming of the subsurface Southern Ocean. Here the role that poleward-intensifying westerlies play in subsurface Southern Ocean warming is explored. To this end a climate model of intermediate complexity was driven separately, and in combination with, time-varying CO2 emissions and time-varying surface winds (derived from the fully coupled climate model simulations mentioned above). Experiments suggest that the combination of the direct radiative effect of CO2 emissions and poleward-intensified winds sets the overall magnitude of Southern Ocean warming, and that the poleward-intensified winds are key in terms of determining its latitudinal structure. In particular, changes in wind stress curl associated with poleward-intensified winds significantly enhance pure CO2-induced subsurface warming around 45°S (through increased downwelling of warm surface water), reduces it at higher latitudes (through increased upwelling of cold deep water), and reduces it at lower latitudes (through decreased downwelling of warm surface water). Experiments also support recent high-resolution ocean model experiments suggesting that enhanced mesoscale eddy activity associated with poleward-intensified winds influences subsurface (and surface) warming. In particular, it is found that increased poleward heat transport associated with increased mesoscale eddy activity enhances the warming south of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Finally, a mechanism involving offshore Ekman sea ice transport (modulated by enhanced mesoscale activity) that acts to significantly limit the human-induced high-latitude Southern Hemisphere surface temperature response is reported on.

Link to abstract:

No comments: