New paper out in Nature on ocean heat/carbon uptake

Links between heat & carbon to understand past and future warming patterns

The press release can be found here. In this paper we highlight a relationship between heat and carbon to reveal the effect of changes in ocean circulation from CO2 forcing on patterns of ocean warming in both observations and global Earth system models from the Fifth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5).

We find that 1) the global heat to carbon uptake is linear and due to the background ocean state; 2) patterns of anthropogenic carbon and added heat (when the circulation is unchanged) are similar.

We show that historical patterns of ocean warming are shaped by ocean heat redistribution, which CMIP5 models simulate poorly. However, we find that projected patterns of heat storage are primarily dictated by the pre-industrial ocean circulation (and small changes in unresolved ocean processes)—that is, by the patterns of added heat owing to ocean uptake of excess atmospheric heat rather than ocean warming by circulation changes. Climate models show more skill in simulating ocean heat storage by the pre-industrial circulation compared to heat redistribution, indicating that warming patterns of the ocean may become more predictable as the climate warms.

Laure Zanna
Laure Zanna
Professor of Mathematics & Atmosphere/Ocean Science [she/her]

My research interests include climate dynamics, ocean modeling, and machine learning.