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Ocean circulation drifts in multi-millennial climate simulations: the role of salinity corrections and climate feedbacks

Dentith, J. E., Ivanovic, R. F., Gregoire, L. J., Tindall, J. C. and Smith, R. (2019) Ocean circulation drifts in multi-millennial climate simulations: the role of salinity corrections and climate feedbacks. Climate Dynamics, 52 (3-4). pp. 1761-1781. ISSN 0930-7575

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00382-018-4243-y

Abstract/Summary

Low-resolution, complex general circulation models (GCMs) are valuable tools for studying the Earth system on multi-millennial timescales. However, slowly evolving salinity drifts can cause large shifts in climatic and oceanic regimes over thousands of years. We test two different schemes for neutralising unforced salinity drifts in the FAMOUS GCM: surface flux correction and volumetric flux correction. Although both methods successfully maintain a steady global mean salinity, local drifts and subsequent feedbacks promote cooling (≈ 4 °C over 6000 years) and freshening (≈ 2 psu over 6000 years) in the North Atlantic Ocean, and gradual warming (≈ 0.2 °C per millennium) and salinification (≈ 0.15 psu per millennium) in the North Pacific Ocean. Changes in the surface density in these regions affect the meridional overturning circulation (MOC), such that, after several millennia, the Atlantic MOC (AMOC) is in a collapsed state, and there is a strong, deep Pacific MOC (PMOC). Furthermore, the AMOC exhibits a period of metastability, which is only identifiable with run lengths in excess of 1500 years. We also compare simulations with two different land surface schemes, demonstrating that small biases in the surface climate may cause regional salinity drifts and significant shifts in the MOC (weakening of the AMOC and the initiation then invigoration of PMOC), even when the global hydrological cycle has been forcibly closed. Although there is no specific precursor to the simulated AMOC collapse, the northwest North Pacific and northeast North Atlantic are important areas that should be closely monitored for trends arising from such biases.

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:81239
Publisher:Springer

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