The Influence of Tropical Air-Sea Interaction on the Climate Impact of Aerosols: A Hierarchical Modeling Approach

Friday, 19 December 2014
Wei-Chun Hsieh1, Ramalingam Saravanan2, Ping Chang1 and Salil Mahajan3, (1)Texas A & M University, College Station, TX, United States, (2)Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States, (3)Oak Ridge Nat'l Lab, Oak Ridge, TN, United States
In this study, we use a hierarchical modeling approach to investigate the influence of tropical air-sea feedbacks on climate impacts of aerosols in the Community Earth System Model (CESM). We construct four different models by coupling the atmospheric component of CESM, the Community Atmospheric Model (CAM), to four different ocean models: (i) the Data Ocean Model (DOM; prescribed SST), (i) Slab Ocean Model (SOM; thermodynamic coupling), (iii) Reduced Gravity Ocean Model (RGOM; dynamic coupling), and (iv) the Parallel Ocean Program (POP; full ocean model). These four models represent progressively increasing degree of coupling between the atmosphere and the ocean. The RGOM model, in particular, is tuned to produce a good simulation of ENSO and the associated tropical air-sea interaction, without being impacted by the climate drifts exhibited by fully-coupled GCMs. For each method of coupling, a pair of numerical experiments, including present day (year 2000) and preindustrial (year 1850) sulfate aerosol loading, were carried out. Our results indicate that the inclusion of air-sea interaction has large impacts on the spatial structure of the climate response induced by aerosols. In response to sulfate aerosol forcing, ITCZ shifts southwards as a result of the anomalous clockwise MMC change which transports moisture southwardly across the Equator. We present analyses of the regional response to sulfate aerosol forcing in the equatorial Pacific as well as the zonally-averaged response. The decomposition of the change in the net surface energy flux shows the most dominant terms are net shortwave radiative flux at the surface and latent heat flux. Further analyses show all ocean model simulations simulate a positive change of northward atmospheric energy transport across the Equator in response to the perturbed radiative sulfate forcing. This positive northward atmospheric energy transport change plays a role in compensating partially cooling caused by sulfate aerosols.