Energy-balance mechanisms underlying consistent large-scale temperature responses in warm and cold climates

Kenji Izumi*, Patrick J. Bartlein, Sandy P. Harrison

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)
    32 Downloads (Pure)


    Climate simulations show consistent large-scale temperature responses including amplified land–ocean contrast, high-latitude/low-latitude contrast, and changes in seasonality in response to year-round forcing, in both warm and cold climates, and these responses are proportional and nearly linear across multiple climate states. We examine the possibility that a small set of common mechanisms controls these large-scale responses using a simple energy-balance model to decompose the temperature changes shown in multiple lgm and abrupt4 × CO2 simulations from the CMIP5 archive. Changes in the individual components of the energy balance are broadly consistent across the models. Although several components are involved in the overall temperature responses, surface downward clear-sky longwave radiation is the most important component driving land–ocean contrast and high-latitude amplification in both warm and cold climates. Surface albedo also plays a significant role in promoting high-latitude amplification in both climates and in intensifying the land–ocean contrast in the warm climate case. The change in seasonality is a consequence of the changes in land–ocean and high-latitude/low-latitude contrasts rather than an independent temperature response. This is borne out by the fact that no single component stands out as being the major cause of the change in seasonality, and the relative importance of individual components is different in cold and warm climates.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number13
    Pages (from-to)3111-3127
    Number of pages17
    JournalClimate Dynamics
    Issue number11-12
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2015

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2014. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Climate model simulations
    • Surface energy balance
    • Land-ocean contrast
    • Polar amplification
    • Seasonality change
    • Paleo/future simulations


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