Interpretation of net surface heat fluxes and meridional overturning circulations in global coupled HadGEM3 climate simulations

Bell, Michael J.; Nurser, A. J. George; Storkey, David. 2023 Interpretation of net surface heat fluxes and meridional overturning circulations in global coupled HadGEM3 climate simulations. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 53 (6). 1555-1575.

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The annual mean net surface heat fluxes (NSHFs) from the ocean to the atmosphere generated by historical forcing simulations using the HadGEM3-GC3.1 coupled climate model are shown to be relatively independent of resolution, for model horizontal grid spacings between 1° and 1/12°, and to agree well with those based on the DEEP-C (Diagnosing Earth’s Energy Pathways in the Climate System) analyses. Interpretations of the geographical patterns of the NSHFs are suggested that use basic ideas extracted from the theory of the ventilated thermocline and planetary geostrophic layer models. As a step toward investigation of the validity of the assumptions underlying the interpretations, we examine the contributions to the rate of change of the active tracers from the main terms in their prognostic equations as a function of the active tracer and latitude. We find that, consistent with our assumptions, the main contributions from vertical diffusion occur in “near-surface” layers. We also find that, except at high latitudes, the sum of the NSHF and vertical diffusion is mainly balanced by time-mean advection of potential temperature. A corresponding statement holds for potential density but not salinity. We also show that the heat input by latitude bands is dominated by the NSHFs, the time-mean advection, and the equatorial Pacific. It is usually assumed that global integrals of tracer tendencies due to advection as a function of the tracer should be identically zero. We show that nonnegligible contributions to them arise from net freshwater surface fluxes.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0022-3670
Date made live: 12 Jul 2023 11:19 +0 (UTC)

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