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  • Saenko, O.A., 2006: Influence of global warming on baroclinic Rossby radius in the ocean: a model intercomparison. J. Climate, 19, 1354-1360.

Results from eight ocean-atmosphere general circulation models are used to evaluate the influence of the projected changes in the oceanic stratification on the first baroclinic Rossby radius of deformation in the ocean,associated with atmospheric CO2 increase. For each of the models, an oceanic state corresponding to the A1B stabilization experiment (with atmospheric CO2 concentration of 720 ppm) is compared to a state corresponding to the pre-industrial control experiment (with atmospheric CO2 concentration of
280 ppm). In all of the models, the first baroclinic Rossby radius increases with increasing oceanic stratification in the warmer climate. There is, however, a considerable range among the models in the magnitude of the increase. At the latitudes of intense eddy activity associated with instability of western boundary currents (around 35-40 deg), the increase reaches 4 km on average, or about 15% of the local baroclinic Rossby radius. Some of the models predict an increase of the baroclinic Rossby radius by
more than 20% at these latitudes under the applied forcing. It is therefore suggested that in a plausible future warmer climate, the characteristic length scale of mesoscale eddies, as well as boundary currents and fronts, may increase. In addition, since the speed of long baroclinic Rossby waves is proportional to the squared baroclinic Rossby radius of deformation, the results suggest that the time scale for large-scale dynamical oceanic adjustment may decrease in the warmer climate, thereby increasing the frequency of long-term climate variability where the oceanic Rossby wave dynamics set the dominant period. Finally, the speed of equatorial Kelvin waves and Rossby waves, carrying signals along the Equator, including those related to ENSO, is projected to increase.


Last Updated: 2006-03-29

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