Atlantic Heat Conveyor (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation)
Cunningham, S., Marsh, R., Wood, R., Wallace, C., Kuhlbrodt, T. and Dye, S. (2010) Atlantic Heat Conveyor (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation). In: Marine Climate Change Impacts Annual Report Card 2010-11, MCCIP Science Review. MCCIP, Lowestoft, 14 pp..
The meridional overturning circulation (MOC) is part of a global ocean circulation that redistributes heat from Equatorial to Polar regions. In the Atlantic the MOC carries heat northward (the Atlantic Heat Conveyor) which is released to the atmosphere and maintains UK temperatures between 3 to 5°C higher than elsewhere at similar latitudes. However, the present strength and structure of the MOC may not continue. The 2007 IPCC assessment report (IPCC, 2007) suggests that there is less than 10% chance of abrupt changes during the 21st Century, but that there is greater than 90% chance that MOC will slow by an average of 25% compared to pre-industrial levels, offsetting some of the warming over the European sector of the North Atlantic, and contributing to the rate of sea-level-rise. Daily observations using the RAPID MOC mooring array at 26.5°N are providing a continuous and growing time-series of the MOC strength and structure, but the five year record is at present too short to establish trends in the annual mean MOC. Other observations do not at present provide a coherent Atlantic wide picture of MOC variability, and there is little evidence of any long-term slowing. Ocean assimilation models suggest a slowing over the past decade of around 10%. However, models still have many problems in representing ocean circulation and conclusions of change are very uncertain.
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