93 Atmospheric Eddies Mediate Lapse Rate Feedback and Arctic Amplification

Tuesday, 27 June 2017
Salon A-E (Marriott Portland Downtown Waterfront)
Nicole Feldl, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz, CA; and B. T. Anderson and S. Bordoni

Projections of amplified climate change in the Arctic are attributed to positive feedbacks associated with the retreat of sea ice and changes in the lapse rate of the polar atmosphere. Here, a set of idealized aquaplanet experiments are performed to understand the coupling between high-latitude feedbacks, polar amplification, and the large-scale atmospheric circulation. Results are compared to CMIP5. The aquaplanet simulation with the greatest Arctic amplification (24 K local warming), representing a transition from perennial to ice-free conditions, exhibits a marked decrease in dry static energy flux by transient eddies. The relative importance of latent heat flux to the total energy flux is reduced, in spite of atmospheric moistening. Notably, latent heating by eddies explains the upper-tropospheric warming that occurs in all experiments and provides a remote influence on the polar lapse rate feedback. Main conclusions are that (i) given a large, localized change in meridional temperature gradient, the midlatitude circulation exhibits strong compensation between changes in dry and moist energy fluxes and (ii) atmospheric eddies mediate the nonlinear interaction between surface albedo and lapse rate feedbacks, rendering the high-latitude lapse rate feedback less positive than it would be otherwise. Consequently, the variability of the circulation response, and particularly the partitioning of energy fluxes, offers insights into understanding the magnitude of polar amplification.
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