Park, S., C. Deser, and M. A. Alexander, 2005: Estimation of the surface heat flux response to sea surface temperature anomalies over the global oceans. J. Climate, 18, 4582-4599.
The surface heat flux response to underlying sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies (the surface heat flux feedback) is estimated using 42 yr (1956-97) of ship-derived monthly turbulent heat fluxes and 17 yr (1984-2000) of satellite-derived monthly radiative fluxes over the global oceans for individual seasons. Net surface heat flux feedback is generally negative (i.e., a damping of the underlying SST anomalies) over the global oceans, although there is considerable geographical and seasonal variation. Over the North Pacific Ocean, net surface heat flux feedback is dominated by the turbulent flux component, with maximum values (28 W m-2 K-1) in December-February and minimum values (5 W m-2 K-1) in May-July. These seasonal variations are due to changes in the strength of the climatological mean surface wind speed and the degree to which the near-surface air temperature and humidity adjust to the underlying SST anomalies. Similar features are observed over the extratropical North Atlantic Ocean with maximum (minimum) feedback values of approximately 33 W m-2 K-1 (9 W m-2 K-1) in December-February (June-August). Although the net surface heat flux feedback may be negative, individual components of the feedback can be positive depending on season and location. For example, over the midlatitude North Pacific Ocean during late spring to midsummer, the radiative flux feedback associated with marine boundary layer clouds and fog is positive, and results in a significant enhancement of the month-to-month persistence of SST anomalies, nearly doubling the SST anomaly decay time from 2.8 to 5.3 months in May-July.
Several regions are identified with net positive heat flux feedback: the tropical western North Atlantic Ocean during boreal winter, the Namibian stratocumulus deck off West Africa during boreal fall, and the Indian Ocean during boreal summer and fall. These positive feedbacks are mainly associated with the following atmospheric responses to positive SST anomalies: 1) reduced surface wind speed (positive turbulent heat flux feedback) over the tropical western North Atlantic and Indian Oceans, 2) reduced marine boundary layer stratocumulus cloud fraction (positive shortwave radiative flux feedback) over the Namibian stratocumulus deck, and 3) enhanced atmospheric water vapor (positive longwave radiative flux feedback) in the vicinity of the tropical deep convection region over the Indian Ocean that exceeds the negative shortwave radiative flux feedback associated with enhanced cloudiness.