CLIMATOLOGY

Understanding Recycling

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Science  14 Sep 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5537, pp. 1957
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5537.1957b

The solar energy absorbed by Earth is continually redistributed from warmer low latitudes to cooler high latitudes by oceanic and atmospheric circulation. Climate models and models of ocean and atmospheric circulation need to use accurate values of how much heat is transported by each of these pathways.

Trenberth and Caron have reanalyzed data from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction-National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP-NCAR) and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) for 1985 to 1989 and computed the annual mean heat transport by the atmosphere and ocean in order to construct a global picture of meridional heat transport. They compared their results to direct oceanographic measurements and estimates from successful, stable, coupled climate models and found that the values derived from various approaches seemed to be converging. However, a larger fraction of energy appears to be transported toward the poles by the atmosphere than has been indicated by previous studies. — HJS

J. Climate14, 3433 (2001).

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