Interhemispheric asymmetry of warming in an eddy-permitting coupled sector model

David K. Hutchinson*, Matthew H. England, Andrew M. Hogg, Kate Snow

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Climate model projections and observations show a faster rate of warming in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) than the Southern Hemisphere (SH). This asymmetry is partly due to faster rates of warming over the land than the ocean, and partly due to the ocean circulation redistributing heat toward the NH. This study examines the interhemispheric warming asymmetry in an intermediate complexity coupled climate model with eddy-permitting (0.25°) ocean resolution, and results are compared with a similar model with coarse (1°) ocean resolution. The models use a pole-to-pole 60° wide sector domain in the ocean and a 120° wide sector in the atmosphere, with Atlantic-like bathymetry and a simple land model. There is a larger high-latitude ocean temperature asymmetry in the 0.25° model compared with the 1° model, both in equilibrated control runs and in response to greenhouse warming. The larger warming asymmetry is caused by greater melting of NH sea ice in the 0.25° model, associated with faster, less viscous boundary currents transporting heat northward. The SH sea ice and heat transport response is relatively insensitive to the resolution change, since the eddy heat transport differences between the models are small compared with the mean flow heat transport. When a wind shift and intensification is applied in these warming scenarios, the warming asymmetry is further enhanced, with greater upwelling of cool water in the Southern Ocean and enhanced warming in the NH. Surface air temperatures show a substantial but lesser degree of high-latitude warming asymmetry, reflecting the sea surface warming patterns over the ocean but warming more symmetrically over the land regions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)7385-7406
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of Climate
    Issue number18
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015


    Dive into the research topics of 'Interhemispheric asymmetry of warming in an eddy-permitting coupled sector model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this