Polar Amplification: Is Atmospheric Heat Transport Important?
Surface albedo feedback is widely believed to be the principle contributor to polar amplification. However, a number of studies have shown that coupled ocean-atmosphere models without ice albedo feedbacks still produce significant polar amplification in 2 × CO2 runs due to atmospheric heat transports and their interaction with surface conditions. In this article, the relative importance of atmospheric heat transport and surface albedo is assessed using a conceptual 2-box energy balance model in a variety of different model climates. While both processes are shown to independently contribute to the polar amplified response of the model, formal feedback analysis indicates that a strong surface albedo response will tend to reduce the effect of atmospheric heat transport in the full model. We identify several scenarios near the present day climate in which, according to this formal feedback analysis, atmospheric heat transport plays no role in shaping the equilibrium warming response to uniform forcing. However, a closer analysis shows that even in these scenarios the presence of atmospheric heat transport feedback does play a significant role in shaping the trajectory by which the climate adjusts to its new equilibrium.
Jackson, Craig and Alexeev, Vladimir, "Polar Amplification: Is Atmospheric Heat Transport Important?" (2013). Mathematics & Computer Science Faculty Work. 5.
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