Heaving modes in the world oceans
Huang, Rui Xin
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KeywordAdiabatic motions; Heaving; Subtropical and subpolar gyres; Southern oceans; Baroclinic modes of heating content anomaly; Wind-driven circulation; Climate variability of heat content
Part of climate changes on decadal time scales can be interpreted as the result of adiabatic motions associated with the adjustment of wind-driven circulation, i.e., the heaving of the isopycnal surfaces. Heat content changes in the ocean, including hiatus of global surface temperature and other phenomena, can be interpreted in terms of heaving associated with adjustment of wind-driven circulation induced by decadal variability of wind. A simple reduced gravity model is used to examine the consequence of adiabatic adjustment of the wind-driven circulation. Decadal changes in wind stress forcing can induce three-dimensional redistribution of warm water in the upper ocean. In particular, wind stress change can generate baroclinic modes of heat content anomaly in the vertical direction; in fact, changes in stratification observed in the ocean may be induced by wind stress change at local or in the remote parts of the world oceans. Intensification of the equatorial easterly can induce cooling in the upper layer and warming in the subsurface layer. The combination of this kind of heat content anomaly with the general trend of warming of the whole water column under the increasing greenhouse effect may offer an explanation for the hiatus of global surface temperature and the accelerating subsurface warming over the past 10–15 years. Furthermore, the meridional transport of warm water in the upper ocean can lead to sizeable transient meridional overturning circulation, poleward heat flux and vertical heat flux. Thus, heaving plays a key role in the oceanic circulation and climate.
© The Author(s), 2015. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Climate Dynamics 45 (2015): 3563-3591, doi:10.1007/s00382-015-2557-6.
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