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The Response to High and Low Latitude Forcings in an Ensemble of Coupled Climate Models

Using a set of coupled climate model simulations designed to isolate the response to Arctic sea-ice loss, the atmosphere and ocean's responses within the broader global warming process are examined. A pattern-scaling approach is used, taking advantage of the additivity of atmospheric responses to lower and higher latitude forcings, thus removing the cross-coupling between tropical and high-latitude responses. The atmospheric response to sea-ice loss is not only robust to inter-model differences but also to differences in sea-ice loss protocols. While it has previously been shown that a fully dynamical ocean component is required to obtain a robust atmospheric response and despite the aforementioned consistency in the atmospheric response, the ocean's response is quite disparate, particularly in the climatically sensitive subpolar North Atlantic region. The way in which the mixed-layer depth responds in the North Atlantic to sea-ice loss and to lower latitude warming is model-dependent and/or dependent on the forcing method. Finally, while all models drive a decrease in the strength of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation as a result of sea-ice loss, there is little consensus amongst the models regarding how strong of a role this would play relative to the warming response.