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Spatially similar surface energy flux perturbations due to greenhouse gases and aerosols
  • Published Date:
    2018
  • Source:
    Nature Communications, 9, 7.
Filetype[PDF-2.01 MB]


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  • Description:
    Despite distinct geographic distributions of top-of-the-atmosphere radiative forcing, anthropogenic greenhouse gases and aerosols have been found to produce similar patterns of climate response in atmosphere-and-ocean coupled climate model simulations. Understanding surface energy flux changes, a crucial pathway by which atmospheric forcing is communicated to the ocean, is a vital bridge to explaining the similar full atmosphere-andocean responses to these disparate forcings. Here we analyze the fast, atmosphere-driven change in surface energy flux caused by present-day greenhouse gases vs aerosols to elucidate its role in shaping the subsequent slow, coupled response. We find that the surface energy flux response patterns achieve roughly two-thirds of the anti-correlation seen in the fully coupled response, driven by Rossby waves excited by symmetric changes to the land-sea contrast. Our results suggest that atmosphere and land surface processes are capable of achieving substantial within-hemisphere homogenization in the climate response to disparate forcers on fast, societally-relevant timescales.

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