Impacts on ocean heat from transient mesoscale eddies in a hierarchy of climate models

Stephen M. Griffies, Michael Winton, Whit G. Anderson, Rusty Benson, Thomas L. Delworth, Carolina O. Dufour, John P. Dunne, Paul Goddard, Adele K. Morrison, Anthony Rosati, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Jianjun Yin, Rong Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

231 Scopus citations


The authors characterize impacts on heat in the ocean climate system from transient ocean mesoscale eddies. Their tool is a suite of centennial-scale 1990 radiatively forced numerical climate simulations from threeGFDL coupledmodels comprising the Climate Model, version 2.0-Ocean (CM2-O),model suite. CM2-O models differ in their ocean resolution: CM2.6 uses a 0.1° ocean grid, CM2.5 uses an intermediate grid with 0.25° spacing, and CM2-1deg uses a nominal 1.0° grid. Analysis of the ocean heat budget reveals that mesoscale eddies act to transport heat upward in a manner that partially compensates (or offsets) for the downward heat transport from the time-mean currents. Stronger vertical eddy heat transport in CM2.6 relative to CM2.5 accounts for the significantly smaller temperature drift in CM2.6. The mesoscale eddy parameterization used in CM2-1deg also imparts an upward heat transport, yet it differs systematically from that found in CM2.6. This analysis points to the fundamental role that ocean mesoscale features play in transient ocean heat uptake. In general, the more accurate simulation found in CM2.6 provides an argument for either including a rich representation of the ocean mesoscale in model simulations of the mean and transient climate or for employing parameterizations that faithfully reflect the role of eddies in both lateral and vertical heat transport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)952-977
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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