The role of subpolar deep water formation and Nordic Seas overflows in simulated multidecadal variability of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation

Lohmann, K.; Jungclaus, J. H.; Matei, D.; Mignot, Juliette; Menary, M.; Langehaug, H. R.; Ba, J.; Gao, Y.; Otterå, O. H.; Park, W.; Lorenz, S. (2014). The role of subpolar deep water formation and Nordic Seas overflows in simulated multidecadal variability of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. Ocean Science, 10(2), pp. 227-241. Copernicus 10.5194/os-10-227-2014

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We investigate the respective role of variations in subpolar deep water formation and Nordic Seas overflows for the decadal to multidecadal variability of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). This is partly done by analysing long (order of 1000 years) control simulations with five coupled climate models. For all models, the maximum influence of variations in subpolar deep water formation is found at about 45° N, while the maximum influence of variations in Nordic Seas overflows is rather found at 55 to 60° N. Regarding the two overflow branches, the influence of variations in the Denmark Strait overflow is, for all models, substantially larger than that of variations in the overflow across the Iceland–Scotland Ridge. The latter might, however, be underestimated, as the models in general do not realistically simulate the flow path of the Iceland–Scotland overflow water south of the Iceland–Scotland Ridge. The influence of variations in subpolar deep water formation is, on multimodel average, larger than that of variations in the Denmark Strait overflow. This is true both at 45° N, where the maximum standard deviation of decadal to multidecadal AMOC variability is located for all but one model, and at the more classical latitude of 30° N. At 30° N, variations in subpolar deep water formation and Denmark Strait overflow explain, on multimodel average, about half and one-third respectively of the decadal to multidecadal AMOC variance. Apart from analysing multimodel control simulations, we have performed sensitivity experiments with one of the models, in which we suppress the variability of either subpolar deep water formation or Nordic Seas overflows. The sensitivity experiments indicate that variations in subpolar deep water formation and Nordic Seas overflows are not completely independent. We further conclude from these experiments that the decadal to multidecadal AMOC variability north of about 50° N is mainly related to variations in Nordic Seas overflows. At 45° N and south of this latitude, variations in both subpolar deep water formation and Nordic Seas overflows contribute to the AMOC variability, with neither of the processes being very dominant compared to the other.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Climate and Environmental Physics
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)

UniBE Contributor:

Mignot, Juliette

Subjects:

500 Science > 530 Physics

ISSN:

1812-0792

Publisher:

Copernicus

Language:

English

Submitter:

Monika Wälti-Stampfli

Date Deposited:

29 Sep 2014 15:03

Last Modified:

01 Jan 2015 19:26

Publisher DOI:

10.5194/os-10-227-2014

Web of Science ID:

000335376700006

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.57914

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/57914

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