An ocean dynamical thermostat

Publication Type  Journal Article
Year of Publication  1996
Authors  Clement, A. C.; Seager, R.; Cane, M. A.; Zebiak, S. E.
Journal Title  Journal of Climate
Volume  9
Issue  9
Pages  2190-2196
Journal Date  Sep
ISBN Number  0894-8755
Accession Number  ISI:A1996VM99700015
Key Words  sea-surface temperature; tropical pacific; el-nino; model; climatology; greenhouse

The role of ocean dynamics in the regulation of tropical sea surface temperatures (SSTs) is investigated using the Zebiak-Cane coupled ocean-atmosphere model. The model is forced with a uniform heating, or cooling, varying between +/-40 W m(-2) into the ocean surface. a new climatological SST pattern is established for which the area-averaged temperature change is smaller in magnitude than the imposed forcing. The forcing is balanced almost equally by a change in the heat flux out of the ocean and by vertical advection of heat in the ocean through anomalous equatorial ocean upwelling. The generation of anomalous upwelling is identified here as a possible mechanism capable of regulating tropical SSTs. This ocean dynamical thermostat mechanism has a seasonally varying efficiency that causes amplification (weakening) of the seasonal cycle for the heating (cooling). The interannual variability also changes under the imposed forcing. These results suggest that the role of ocean dynamics should be included in any discussion of the regulation of the tropical climate.


Vm997Times Cited:77Cited References Count:18

URL  <Go to ISI>://A1996VM99700015