993 Hemispheric Asymmetry of Global Warming Explained by a Conceptual Model

Wednesday, 10 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Christoph S Funke, IARC, Bethesda, MD; and V. A. Alexeev

Polar Amplification, the process of amplified warming at high latitudes, manifests itself differently in the Arctic and Antarctic. Not only is the temperature increase in the Arctic more pronounced than in the Antarctic but the dramatic sea ice decline in the Arctic over the last few decades also contrasts sharply with trendless to weak positive trend of Antarctic sea ice throughout the same period. This asymmetric behavior is often partly attributed to the differences in configuration of continents in the Arctic and Antarctic: the Arctic Ocean is surrounded by land while the Southern Ocean has a continent in the middle. A simple conceptual energy balance model of Budyko-Sellers type, accounting for differences between the Northern and Southern hemispheres, is applied to study the mechanisms of climate sensitivity to a variety of forcings. Asymmetry in major modes of variability is explained using an eigenmode analysis of the linearized model. Negative forcings over Antarctica such as from ozone depletion were found to have an amplified effect on southern hemisphere climate and may be an important cause of the muted warming and slightly positive Antarctic sea ice trends.
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