26 December 2014

Individual Feedback Contributions to the Seasonality of Surface Warming


Using the climate feedback response analysis method, the authors examine the individual contributions of the CO2 radiative forcing and climate feedbacks to the magnitude, spatial pattern, and seasonality of the transient surface warming response in a 1%yr21 CO2 increase simulation of the NCAR Community Climate System Model, version 4 (CCSM4).The CO2 forcing and water vapor feedback warm the surface everywhere throughout the year. The tropical warming is predominantly caused by the CO2 forcing and water vapor feedback, while the evaporation feedback reduces the warming. Most feedbacks exhibit noticeable seasonal variations; however, their net effect has little seasonal variation due to compensating effects, which keeps the tropical warming relatively invariant all year long. The polar warming has a pronounced seasonal cycle, with maximum warming in fall/winter and minimum warming in summer. In summer, the large cancelations between the shortwave and longwave cloud feedbacks and between the surface albedo feedback warming and the cooling from the ocean heat storage/dynamics feedback lead to a warming minimum. In polar winter, surface albedo and shortwave cloud feedbacks are nearly absent due to a lack of insolation. However, the ocean heat storage feedback relays the polar warming due to the surface albedo feedback from summer to winter, and the longwave cloud feedback warms the polar surface. Therefore, the seasonal variations in the cloud feedback, surface albedo feedback, and ocean heat storage/dynamics feedback, directly caused by the strong annual cycle of insolation, contribute primarily to the large seasonal variation of polar warming. Furthermore, the CO2 forcing and water vapor and atmospheric dynamics feedbacks add to the maximum polar warming in fall/winter. 

S A Sejas
Sejas, SA, M Cai, A Hu, GA Meehl, W Washington, and PC Taylor.  2014.  "Individual Feedback Contributions to the Seasonality of Surface Warming."  Journal of Climate 27: 5653–5669, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00658.1.