Global response to solar radiation absorbed by phytoplankton in a coupled climate model

Patara, Lavinia, Vichi, Marcello, Masina, Simona, Fogli, Pier Giuseppe and Manzini, Elisa (2012) Global response to solar radiation absorbed by phytoplankton in a coupled climate model Climate Dynamics, 39 (7-8). pp. 1951-1968. DOI 10.1007/s00382-012-1300-9.

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The global climate response to solar radiation absorbed by phytoplankton is investigated by performing multi-century simulations with a coupled ocean-atmosphere-biogeochemistry model. The absorption of solar radiation by phytoplankton increases radiative heating in the near-surface ocean and raises sea surface temperature (SST) by overall similar to 0.5A degrees C. The resulting increase in evaporation enhances specific atmospheric humidity by 2-5%, thereby increasing the Earth's greenhouse effect and the atmospheric temperatures. The Hadley Cell exhibits a weakening and poleward expansion, therefore reducing cloudiness at subtropical-middle latitudes and increasing it at tropical latitudes except near the Equator. Higher SST at polar latitudes reduces sea ice cover and albedo, thereby increasing the high-latitude ocean absorption of solar radiation. Changes in the atmospheric baroclinicity cause a poleward intensification of mid-latitude westerly winds in both hemispheres. As a result, the North Atlantic Ocean meridional overturning circulation extends more northward, and the equatorward Ekman transport is enhanced in the Southern Ocean. The combination of local and dynamical processes decreases upper-ocean heat content in the Tropics and in the subpolar Southern Ocean, and increases it at middle latitudes. This study highlights the relevance of coupled ocean-atmosphere processes in the global climate response to phytoplankton solar absorption. Given that simulated impacts of phytoplankton on physical climate are within the range of natural climate variability, this study suggests the importance of phytoplankton as an internal constituent of the Earth's climate and its potential role in participating in its long-term climate adjustments.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: WOS:000309346100024
Keywords: Coupled climate model; Bio-physical interactions; Solar radiation; Climate; Marine biogeochemical model; Phytoplankton radiative heating; Ocean circulation; GENERAL-CIRCULATION MODEL; SEA-SURFACE TEMPERATURE; TROPICAL PACIFIC; UPPER-OCEAN; EQUATORIAL PACIFIC; PENETRATIVE RADIATION; VARIABILITY; FEEDBACKS; ECOSYSTEM; HEAT
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-TM Theory and Modeling
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1007/s00382-012-1300-9
ISSN: 0930-7575
Projects: Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2012 10:20
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2016 11:11

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