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Publication Date
15 January 2024

Sea Ice and Cloud Processes Mediating Compensation between Atmospheric and Oceanic Meridional Heat Transports across the CMIP6 Preindustrial Control Experiment

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Bjerknes compensation (BJC) refers to the anticorrelation observed between atmospheric and oceanic heat transport (AHT/OHT) variability, particularly on decadal to longer time scales that may be important to the predictability of the climate system. This study investigates the spread in BJC across fully coupled simulations of phase 6 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) and critical processes (particularly related to sea ice and clouds) that may contribute to that spread. BJC on decadal to longer time scales is confirmed across all the simulations evaluated, and it is strongest in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) between 608 and 708N. At these latitudes, BJC appears to be primarily driven by the exchange of turbulent fluxes (sensible and latent) in the Greenland, Iceland, and Barents Seas. Metrics to break down how sea ice and clouds uniquely modify the radiative balance of the polar atmosphere during anomalous OHT events are presented. These metrics quantify the impacts of sea ice and clouds on surface and top of atmosphere (latent, sensible, longwave, and shortwave radiative) energy fluxes. Cloud responses tend to counter the clear sky impacts over the Marginal Ice Zone (MIZ). It is further shown that the degree of BJC present in a simulation at high latitudes is heavily influenced by the sensitivity of the sea ice to OHT, which is most influential over the MIZ. These results are qualitatively robust across models and explain the intermodel spread in NH BJC in the preindustrial control experiment. 

Kurtakoti , Prajvala, Wilbert Weijer, Milena Veneziani, Phil Rasch, and Tarun Verma. 2024. “Sea Ice And Cloud Processes Mediating Compensation Between Atmospheric And Oceanic Meridional Heat Transports Across The Cmip6 Preindustrial Control Experiment”. Journal Of Climate 37: 505-525. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-23-0103.1.
Funding Program Area(s)
Additional Resources:
NERSC