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Antarctic ice-sheet meltwater reduces transient warming and climate sensitivity through the sea-surface temperature pattern effect
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  • Yue Dong,
  • Andrew George Pauling,
  • Shaina Sadai,
  • Kyle Armour
Yue Dong
Columbia University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Andrew George Pauling
University of Washington
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Shaina Sadai
University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Kyle Armour
University of Washington
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Coupled global climate models (GCMs) generally fail to reproduce the observed sea-surface temperature (SST) trend pattern since the 1980s. The model-observation discrepancies may arise in part from the lack of realistic Antarctic ice-sheet meltwater imbalance in GCMs. Here we employ two sets of CESM1-CAM5 simulations forced by anomalous Antarctic meltwater fluxes over 1980–2013 and into the 21st century. Both show a reduced global warming rate and an SST trend pattern that better resembles observations. The meltwater drives surface cooling in the Southern Ocean and the tropical southeast Pacific, in turn increasing low-cloud cover and driving radiative feedbacks to become more stabilizing (corresponding to a lower effective climate sensitivity). These feedback changes contribute more than ocean heat uptake efficiency changes in reducing the global warming rate. Accurately projecting historical and future warming thus requires improved representation of Antarctic meltwater and its impacts in models.