Interpretation of the Top-of-Atmosphere Energy Flux for Future Arctic Warming

Jiwon Hwang, Yong Sang Choi, Changhyun Yoo, Yuan Wang, Hui Su, Jonathan H. Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

With the trend of amplified warming in the Arctic, we examine the observed and modeled top-of-atmosphere (TOA) radiative responses to surface air-temperature changes over the Arctic by using TOA energy fluxes from NASA’s CERES observations and those from twelve climate models in CMIP5. Considerable inter-model spreads in the radiative responses suggest that future Arctic warming may be determined by the compensation between the radiative imbalance and poleward energy transport (mainly via transient eddy activities). The poleward energy transport tends to prevent excessive Arctic warming: the transient eddy activities are weakened because of the reduced meridional temperature gradient under polar amplification. However, the models that predict rapid Arctic warming do not realistically simulate the compensation effect. This role of energy compensation in future Arctic warming is found only when the inter-model differences in cloud radiative effects are considered. Thus, the dynamical response can act as a buffer to prevent excessive Arctic warming against the radiative response of 0.11 W m−2 K−1 as measured from satellites, which helps the Arctic climate system retain an Arctic climate sensitivity of 4.61 K. Therefore, if quantitative analyses of the observations identify contribution of atmospheric dynamics and cloud effects to radiative imbalance, the satellite-measured radiative response will be a crucial indicator of future Arctic warming.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13059
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019

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