A new feedback on climate change from the hydrological cycle

Williams, Paul D.; Guilyardi, Eric; Sutton, Rowan; Gregory, Jonathan; Madec, Gurvan. 2007 A new feedback on climate change from the hydrological cycle. Geophysical Research Letters, 34. L08706.

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An intensification of the hydrological cycle is a likely consequence of global warming. But changes in the hydrological cycle could affect sea-surface temperature by modifying diffusive ocean heat transports. We investigate this mechanism by studying a coupled general circulation model sensitivity experiment in which the hydrological cycle is artificially amplified. We find that the amplified hydrological cycle depresses sea-surface temperature by enhancing ocean heat uptake in low latitudes. We estimate that a 10% increase in the hydrological cycle will contribute a basin-scale sea-surface temperature decrease of around 0.1°C away from high latitudes, with larger decreases locally. We conclude that an intensified hydrological cycle is likely to contribute a weak negative feedback to anthropogenic climate change.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0094-8276
Additional Keywords: climate feedbacks; hydrological cycle; salinity
Date made live: 10 Dec 2008 +0 (UTC)

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