The ocean's role in the delayed response of climate to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide has been studied by means of a detailed three-dimensional climate model. A near-equilibrium state is perturbed by a fourfold, step-function increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. The rise in the sea surface temperature was initially much more rapid in the tropics than at high latitudes. However, the fractional response, as normalized on the basis of the total difference between the high carbon dioxide and normal carbon dioxide climates, becomes almost uniform at all latitudes after 25 years. Because of the influence of a more rapid response over continents, the normalized response of the zonally averaged surface air temperature is faster and becomes nearly uniform with respect to latitude after only 10 years.
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