AbstractThe response of the equatorial Pacific Ocean to heat fluxes of equal amplitude but opposite sign is investigated using the Community Earth System Model (CESM). Results show a strong asymmetry in SST changes. In the eastern equatorial Pacific (EEP), the warming responding to the positive forcing exceeds the cooling response to the negative forcing, whereas in the western equatorial Pacific (WEP) it is the other way around and the cooling surpasses the warming. This leads to a zonal dipole asymmetric structure, with positive values in the east and negative values in the west. A surface heat budget analysis suggests that the SST asymmetry mainly results from the oceanic horizontal advection and vertical entrainment, with both of their linear and nonlinear components playing a role. For the linear component, its change appears to be more significant over the EEP (WEP) in the positive (negative) forcing scenario, favoring the seesaw pattern of the SST asymmetry. For the nonlinear component, its change acts to warm (cool) the EEP (WEP) in both scenarios, also favorable for the development of the SST asymmetry. Additional experiments with a slab ocean confirm the dominant role of ocean dynamical processes for this SST asymmetry. The net surface heat flux, in contrast, works to reduce the SST asymmetry through its shortwave radiation and latent heat flux components, with the former being related to the nonlinear relationship between SST and convection, and the latter being attributable to Newtonian damping and air–sea stability effects. The suppressing effect of shortwave radiation on SST asymmetry is further verified by partially coupled overriding experiments.
Journal of Climate – American Meteorological Society
Published: Sep 9, 2017
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