The heat imbalance is the fundamental driver for the atmospheric circulation. Therefore, it is crucially important to understand how it responds to global warming. In this study, the role of the ocean in reshaping the atmospheric meridional heat imbalance is explored based on observations and climate simulations. We found that ocean tends to strengthen the meridional heat imbalance over the mid-latitudes. This is primarily because of the uneven ocean heat uptake between the subtropical and subpolar oceans. Under global warming, the subtropical ocean absorbs relatively less heat as the water there is well stratified. In contrast, the subpolar ocean is the primary region where the ocean heat uptake takes place, because the subpolar ocean is dominated by upwelling, strong mixing, and overturning circulation. We propose that the enhanced meridional heat imbalance may potentially contribute to strengthening the water cycle, westerlies, jet stream, and mid-latitude storms.
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