Ocean Models

The ocean models used in climate modeling are sometimes extremely simplified in order to test parameter ranges and scenarios for phenomena that do not depend strongly on the ocean. These simplified ocean models usually have very coarse resolution and hence are very viscous. They cannot provide insight for feedbacks that actively involve the ocean. The central issues for these simplified ocean models are their absorption and advection of heat and accurate representation of SST.

Many modeling studies have shown a strong dependence of the climate response to radiative forcing on the parameterization of sub-grid-scale ocean mixing (see Griffies et al. [2000] for a review). It is clear that there is an urgent need for improved parameterizations of ocean mixing that account for the observed spatial inhomogeneity of both diapycnal and isopycnal ocean mixing. These improvements should be developed through theoretical work coordinated with ongoing observational programs and field studies. To reduce dependence on sub-grid-scale parameterization, climate-modeling groups should continue moving toward improving both the resolution and physics of the ocean in climate models used to make future projections of climate change.

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