Sensitivities of deep-ocean heat uptake and heat content to surface fluxes and subgrid-scale parameters in an ocean GCM with idealized geometry
Author(s)Huang, Boyin.; Stone, Peter H.; Hill, Christopher.
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Sensitivities of the net heat flux into the deep-ocean (Qnet) and of the deep-ocean heat content (DOC) below 700 m are studied using an ocean general circulation model and its adjoint. Both are found to have very similar sensitivities. The sensitivity to the surface freshwater flux (E-P-R) is positive in the Atlantic, but negative in the Pacific and Southern Ocean. A positive sensitivity to the downward net surface heat flux is found only in the North Atlantic north of 40 degrees N and the Southern Ocean. The diapycnal diffusivity of temperature affects Qnet and DOC positively in a large area of the tropics and subtropics in both the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean. The isopycnal diffusivity contributes to Qnet and DOC mainly in the Southern Ocean. Detailed analysis indicates that the surface freshwater flux affects Qnet and DOC by changing vertical velocity, temperature stratification, and overturning circulation. The downward net surface heat flux appears to increase Qnet and DOC by strengthening vertical advection and isopycnal mixing. The contribution of isopycnal diffusivity to Qnet and DOC is largely associated with the vertical heat flux due to isopycnal mixing. Similarly, the diapycnal diffusivity of temperature modulates Qnet and DOC through the downward heat flux due to diapycnal diffusion. The uncertainties of Qnet and DOC are estimated based on the sensitivities and error bars of observed surface forcing and oceanic diffusivities. For DOC, they are about 0.7 degrees K (1 degree K = 3 x 10^24 J) for the isopycnal diffusiv ity, 0.4 degrees K for the diapycnal diffusivity of temperature, 0.3 degrees K for the surface freshwater flux, and 0.1 degrees K for the net surface heat flux and zonal wind stress. Our results suggest that the heat uptake by ocean GCMs in climate experiments is sensitive to the isopycnal diffusivity as well to the diapycnal thermal diffusivity.
Abstract in HTML and technical report in PDF available on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change Website. (http://mit.edu/globalchange/www/)Includes bibliographical references (p. 25-30).
MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change
Report no. 87