Synthesis and evaluation of historical meridional heat transport from midlatitudes towards the Arctic

Yang Liu*, Jisk Attema, Ben Moat, Wilco Hazeleger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Meridional energy transport (MET), both in the atmosphere (AMET) and ocean (OMET), has significant impact on the climate in the Arctic. In this study, we quantify AMET and OMET at subpolar latitudes from six reanalysis data sets. We investigate the differences between the data sets and we check the coherence between MET and the Arctic climate variability at interannual timescales. The results indicate that, although the mean transport in all data sets agrees well, the spatial distributions and temporal variations of AMET and OMET differ substantially among the reanalysis data sets. For the ocean, only after 2007, the low-frequency signals in all reanalysis products agree well. A further comparison with observed heat transport at 26.5° N and the subpolar Atlantic, and a high-resolution ocean model hindcast confirms that the OMET estimated from the reanalysis data sets are consistent with the observations. For the atmosphere, the differences between ERA-Interim and the Japanese 55-year Reanalysis (JRA-55) are small, while the Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications version 2 (MERRA-2) differs from them. An extended analysis of linkages between Arctic climate variability and AMET shows that atmospheric reanalyses differ substantially from each other. Among the chosen atmospheric products, ERA-Interim and JRA-55 results are most consistent with those from coupled climate models. For the ocean, the Ocean Reanalysis System 4 (ORAS4) and Simple Ocean Data Assimilation version 3 (SODA3) agree well on the relation between OMET and sea ice concentration (SIC), while the GLobal Ocean reanalyses and Simulations version 3 (GLORYS2V3) deviates from those data sets. The regressions of multiple fields in the Arctic on both AMET and OMET suggest that the Arctic climate is sensitive to changes of meridional energy transport at subpolar latitudes in winter. Given the good agreement on the diagnostics among assessed reanalysis products, our study suggests that the reanalysis products are useful for the evaluation of energy transport. However, assessments of products with the AMET and OMET estimated from reanalysis data sets beyond interannual timescales should be conducted with great care and the robustness of results should be evaluated through intercomparison, especially when studying variability and interactions between the Arctic and midlatitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-96
Number of pages20
JournalEarth System dynamics
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2020

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