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An anatomy of the cooling of the North Atlantic Ocean in the 1960s and 1970s

Hodson, D. L. R., Robson, J. I. and Sutton, R. T. (2014) An anatomy of the cooling of the North Atlantic Ocean in the 1960s and 1970s. Journal of Climate, 27 (21). pp. 8229-8243. ISSN 1520-0442

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00301.1

Abstract/Summary

In the 1960s and early 1970s sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic Ocean cooled rapidly. There is still considerable uncertainty about the causes of this event, although various mechanisms have been proposed. In this observational study it is demonstrated that the cooling proceeded in several distinct stages. Cool anomalies initially appeared in the mid-1960s in the Nordic Seas and Gulf Stream Extension, before spreading to cover most of the Subpolar Gyre. Subsequently, cool anomalies spread into the tropical North Atlantic before retreating, in the late 1970s, back to the Subpolar Gyre. There is strong evidence that changes in atmospheric circulation, linked to a southward shift of the Atlantic ITCZ, played an important role in the event, particularly in the period 1972-76. Theories for the cooling event must account for its distinctive space-time evolution. Our analysis suggests that the most likely drivers were: 1) The “Great Salinity Anomaly” of the late 1960s; 2) An earlier warming of the subpolar North Atlantic, which may have led to a slow-down in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation; 3) An increase in anthropogenic sulphur dioxide emissions. Determining the relative importance of these factors is a key area for future work.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > NCAS
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:37548
Uncontrolled Keywords:NAO AMOC Atlantic Decadal Multidecadal
Publisher:American Meteorological Society
Publisher Statement:© Copyright [date of publication] American Meteorological Society (AMS). Permission to use figures, tables, and brief excerpts from this work in scientific and educational works is hereby granted provided that the source is acknowledged. Any use of material in this work that is determined to be “fair use” under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act September 2010 Page 2 or that satisfies the conditions specified in Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 USC §108, as revised by P.L. 94-553) does not require the AMS’s permission. Republication, systematic reproduction, posting in electronic form, such as on a web site or in a searchable database, or other uses of this material, except as exempted by the above statement, requires written permission or a license from the AMS. Additional details are provided in the AMS Copyright Policy, available on the AMS Web site located at (http://www.ametsoc.org/) or from the AMS at 617-227-2425 or copyrights@ametsoc.org.

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