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Natural air-sea flux of CO2 in simulations of the NASA-GISS climate model: Sensitivity to the physical ocean model formulation


Results from twin control simulations of the preindustrial CO2 gas exchange (natural flux of CO2) between the ocean and the atmosphere are presented here using the NASA-GISS climate model, in which the same atmospheric component (modelE2) is coupled to two different ocean models, the Russell ocean model and HYCOM. Both incarnations of the GISS climate model are also coupled to the same ocean biogeochemistry module (NOBM) which estimates prognostic distributions for biotic and abiotic fields that influence the air–sea flux of CO2. Model intercomparison is carried out at equilibrium conditions and model differences are contrasted with biases from present day climatologies. Although the models agree on the spatial patterns of the air–sea flux of CO2, they disagree on the strength of the North Atlantic and Southern Ocean sinks mainly because of kinematic (winds) and chemistry (pCO2) differences rather than thermodynamic (SST) ones. Biology/chemistry dissimilarities in the models stem from the different parameterizations of advective and diffusive processes, such as overturning, mixing and horizontal tracer advection and to a lesser degree from parameterizations of biogeochemical processes such as gravitational settling and sinking. The global meridional overturning circulation illustrates much of the different behavior of the biological pump in the two models, together with differences in mixed layer depth which are responsible for different SST, DIC and nutrient distributions in the two models and consequently different atmospheric feedbacks (in the wind, net heat and freshwater fluxes into the ocean).

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