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Ocean and atmosphere feedbacks affecting AMOC hysteresis in a GCM

Jackson, L. C., Smith, R. S. and Wood, R. A. (2017) Ocean and atmosphere feedbacks affecting AMOC hysteresis in a GCM. Climate Dynamics, 49 (1-2). pp. 173-191. ISSN 0930-7575

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00382-016-3336-8

Abstract/Summary

Theories suggest that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) can exhibit a hysteresis where, for a given input of fresh water into the north Atlantic, there are two possible states: one with a strong overturning in the north Atlantic (on) and the other with a reverse Atlantic cell (off). A previous study showed hysteresis of the AMOC for the first time in a coupled general circulation model (Hawkins et al. in Geophys Res Lett. doi: 10.1029/2011GL047208, 2011). In this study we show that the hysteresis found by Hawkins et al. (2011) is sensitive to the method with which the fresh water input is compensated. If this compensation is applied throughout the volume of the global ocean, rather than at the surface, the region of hysteresis is narrower and the off states are very different: when the compensation is applied at the surface, a strong Pacific overturning cell and a strong Atlantic reverse cell develops; when the compensation is applied throughout the volume there is little change in the Pacific and only a weak Atlantic reverse cell develops. We investigate the mechanisms behind the transitions between the on and off states in the two experiments, and find that the difference in hysteresis is due to the different off states. We find that the development of the Pacific overturning cell results in greater atmospheric moisture transport into the North Atlantic, and also is likely responsible for a stronger Atlantic reverse cell. These both act to stabilize the off state of the Atlantic overturning.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:71595
Publisher:Springer

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