Why Does Ocean Warming Pattern Matter?
Ocean warming patterns are critical to climate science given their role in determining regional climate changes and modulating how much the globe may warm with elevated CO2 levels.
Source: AGU Advances
Ocean warming pattern is illustrated by the multi-model ensemble mean sea surface temperature change between the two periods (years 130–150 vs. 1–20) in a CMIP6 scenario where the atmospheric CO2 concentration increases 1% per year. Credit: Xie , Figure 1a
Uneven ocean surface warming under nearly uniform greenhouse gas forcing is one of the most fundamental and intriguing questions in climate dynamics. Recently, researchers have recognized the effect on the global-mean warming and hence climate sensitivity.
Xie  reviews the key features of ocean warming patterns and their formation mechanisms and discusses their implications for radiative feedback and climate sensitivity. One of the challenges is the inconsistency between the simulated and observed warming pattern in the tropical Pacific, confounding the estimation of climate sensitivity from observations.
Such a discrepancy highlights the need for communication between two seemingly distinct communities: those that study ocean-atmospheric dynamics that focus on spatial patterns and those that study climate sensitivity, where the original emphasis was on the planetary energy budget and radiative feedback.
Citation: Xie, S. . Ocean warming pattern effect on global and regional climate change. AGU Advances, 1, e2019AV000130. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019AV000130
—Sarah Kang, Editor, AGU Advances
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