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Response of the tropical Pacific Ocean to wind changes related to global warming from simulations with an ocean general circulation model

Yiyong Luo


A suite of numerical experiments is implemented with an ocean general circulation model (OGCM) to ex-amine the roles of wind stress and wind speed for oceanic changes in the tropical Pacific under global warming. In particular, we turned off the changes of wind stress and/or wind speed in the model to identify the effects of wind-driven ocean circulation and air-sea latent heat flux (i.e., its portion through the wind speed influence on the efficiency of latent heat flux). Results show that 1) the wind stress change appears to be a key forcing mechanism for weakening the tropical surface currents as well as for the oceanic changes in the equatorial thermocline, while it only contributes secondarily to the sea surface temperature (SST) pattern formation in the tropics; 2) the wind speed change is the leading cause for the minimum warming over the southeast subtropics and for a stronger surface warming in the northern hemisphere than in the southern hemisphere; and 3) the enhanced surface warming along the equator is mainly due to the effect of warming in the absence of wind stress and wind speed changes, and this effect also plays a significant role for changing the equatorial thermocline.


Tropical Pacific Ocean; global warming; thermocline

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