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Monday, June 27, 2011

"The ratio of land to ocean temperature change under global warming" by G. J. Boer, Climate Dynamics, 2011

Climate DynamicsDOI: 10.1007/s00382-011-1112-3

The ratio of land to ocean temperature change under global warming


The result in climate simulations, supported in the observation-based record, is that the ratio =TLTO of land-average to ocean-average temperature change is greater than one and varies comparatively modestly as climate changes. This is investigated in results from the CMIP3 data archive of climate change simulations following the B1 and more strongly forced A1B scenarios as well as in 2×COintegrations. The associated precipitation ratio =PLPO is also considered briefly. The behaviour of ϕis analyzed in terms of a forcing-response view of the energy balance over land and ocean regions. The analysis indicates that the value of ϕ > 1 is not maintained by separate local balances over land and ocean but by an energetic balance that also involves a change in transport between the regions. The transport change does not restrain the land warming by exporting energy to the ocean region but, rather, the reverse. The anomalous transport is from the ocean to the land region even though the ocean warms less than the land does. Feedbacks in the ocean region, especially in the equatorial Pacific, do not sufficiently counteract the forcing and the result is an excess of energy that is transported to the land. The land warms in order to radiate away both the energy from the forcing over land but also the extra energy imported from the ocean region, thereby maintaining ϕ > 1. This situation can be understood to parallel the SST-forced case in model studies where ϕ > 1 despite the forcing being confined to the ocean area. The climate system is effective in redistributing forcing so that it is the local feedbacks, rather than the pattern of the forcing, that determine the temperature response. Land and ocean averaged quantities and budgets behave in a consistent manner to provide a simplified representation of the changes in temperature and energetic processes that are occurring. The geographical distributions of the terms do not, however, display a strong land/ocean demarcation. The land/ocean average budgets and balances are the residual of processes that vary considerably within the land and ocean boundaries.

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