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Polar amplification as an inherent response of a circulating atmosphere: results from the TRACMIP aquaplanets
  • Rick Russotto,
  • Michela Biasutti
Rick Russotto
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Corresponding Author:russotto@ldeo.columbia.edu

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Michela Biasutti
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
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In the TRACMIP ensemble of aquaplanet climate model experiments, CO2-induced warming is amplified in the poles in 10 out of 12 models, despite the lack of sea ice. We attribute causes of this amplification by perturbing individual radiative forcing and feedback components in a moist energy balance model. We find a strikingly linear pattern of tropical versus polar warming contributions across models and processes, implying that polar amplification is an inherent consequence of diffusion of moist static energy by the atmosphere. The largest contributor to polar amplification is the instantaneous CO2 forcing, followed by the water vapor feedback and, for some models, cloud feedbacks. Extratropical feedbacks affect polar amplification more strongly, but even feedbacks confined to the tropics can cause polar amplification. Our results contradict studies inferring warming contributions directly from the meridional gradient of radiative perturbations, highlighting the importance of interactions between feedbacks and moisture transport for polar amplification.
28 Mar 2020Published in Geophysical Research Letters volume 47 issue 6. 10.1029/2019GL086771