Spatially similar surface energy flux perturbations due to greenhouse gases and aerosols

Geeta G. Persad, Yi Ming, Zhaoyi Shen, V. Ramaswamy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Despite distinct geographic distributions of top-of-the-atmosphere radiative forcing, anthropogenic greenhouse gases and aerosols have been found to produce similar patterns of climate response in atmosphere-and-ocean coupled climate model simulations. Understanding surface energy flux changes, a crucial pathway by which atmospheric forcing is communicated to the ocean, is a vital bridge to explaining the similar full atmosphere-and-ocean responses to these disparate forcings. Here we analyze the fast, atmosphere-driven change in surface energy flux caused by present-day greenhouse gases vs aerosols to elucidate its role in shaping the subsequent slow, coupled response. We find that the surface energy flux response patterns achieve roughly two-thirds of the anti-correlation seen in the fully coupled response, driven by Rossby waves excited by symmetric changes to the land–sea contrast. Our results suggest that atmosphere and land surface processes are capable of achieving substantial within-hemisphere homogenization in the climate response to disparate forcers on fast, societally-relevant timescales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3247
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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