A study of the sensitivity of ocean overturning circulation and climate to freshwater input in different regions of the North Atlantic
Smith, R. S. and Gregory, J. M. (2009) A study of the sensitivity of ocean overturning circulation and climate to freshwater input in different regions of the North Atlantic. Geophysical Research Letters, 36. L15701. ISSN 0094-8276
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1029/2009GL038607
The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) is an important component of the climate system. Models indicate that the AMOC can be perturbed by freshwater forcing in the North Atlantic. Using an ocean-atmosphere general circulation model, we investigate the dependence of such a perturbation of the AMOC, and the consequent climate change, on the region of freshwater forcing. A wide range of changes in AMOC strength is found after 100 years of freshwater forcing. The largest changes in AMOC strength occur when the regions of deepwater formation in the model are forced directly, although reductions in deepwater formation in one area may be compensated by enhanced formation elsewhere. North Atlantic average surface air temperatures correlate linearly with the AMOC decline, but warming may occur in localised regions, notably over Greenland and where deepwater formation is enhanced. This brings into question the representativeness of temperature changes inferred from Greenland ice-core records.