New Observationally-Based Metrics for the Analysis of Coupled Climate Model and Earth System Model Simulations of the Southern Ocean

Monday, 15 December 2014
Joellen L Russell, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, United States
The exchange of heat and carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and ocean are major controls on Earth’s climate under conditions of anthropogenic forcing. The Southern Ocean south of 30°S, occupying just over ¼ of the surface ocean area, accounts for a disproportionate share of the vertical exchange of properties between the deep and surface waters of the ocean and between the surface ocean and the atmosphere; thus this region can be disproportionately influential on the climate system. Despite the crucial role of the Southern Ocean in the climate system, understanding of the particular mechanisms involved remains inadequate, and the model studies underlying many of these results are highly controversial. As part of the overall goal of working toward reducing uncertainties in climate projections, we present an analysis using new data/model metrics based on a unified framework of theory, quantitative datasets, and numerical modeling. These new metrics quantify the mechanisms, processes, and tendencies relevant to the role of the Southern Ocean in climate.