Northern High-Latitude Heat Budget Decomposition and Transient Warming
Abstract Climate models simulate a wide range of climate changes at high northern latitudes in response to increased CO2. They also have substantial disagreement on projected changes of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). Here, two pairs of closely related climate models are used, with each containing members with large and small AMOC declines to explore the influence of AMOC decline on the high-latitude response to increased CO2. The models with larger AMOC decline have less high-latitude warming and sea ice decline than their small AMOC decline counterpart. By examining differences in the perturbation heat budget of the 40°?90°N region, it is shown that AMOC decline diminishes the warming by weakening poleward ocean heat transport and increasing the ocean heat uptake. The cooling impact of this AMOC-forced surface heat flux perturbation difference is enhanced by shortwave feedback and diminished by longwave feedback and atmospheric heat transport differences. The magnitude of the AMOC decline within model pairs is positively related to the magnitudes of control climate AMOC and Labrador and Nordic Seas convection. Because the 40°?90°N region accounts for up to 40% of the simulated global ocean heat uptake over 100 yr, the process described here influences the global heat uptake efficiency.