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The mean state and variability of the North Atlantic circulation: a perspective from ocean reanalyses

Jackson, L. C., Dubois, C., Forget, G., Haines, K., Harrison, M., Iovino, D., Kӧhl, A., Mignac, D., Masina, S., Peterson, K. A., Piecuch, C. G., Roberts, C., Robson, J., Storto, A., Toyoda, T., Valdivieso, M., Wilson, C., Wang, Y. and Zuo, H. (2019) The mean state and variability of the North Atlantic circulation: a perspective from ocean reanalyses. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 124 (12). pp. 9141-9170. ISSN 2169-9291

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/2019JC015210


The observational network around the North Atlantic has improved significantly over the last few decades with subsurface profiling floats and satellite observations, and the recent efforts to monitor the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). These have shown decadal timescale changes across the North Atlantic including in heat content, heat transport and the circulation. However there are still significant gaps in the observational coverage. Ocean reanalyses integrate the observations with a dynamically consistent ocean model and can be used to understand the observed changes. However the ability of the reanalyses to represent the dynamics must also be assessed. We use an ensemble of global ocean reanalyses to examine the time mean state and interannual‐decadal variability of the North Atlantic ocean since 1993. We assess how well the reanalyses are able to capture processes and whether any understanding can be gained. In particular we examine aspects of the circulation including convection, AMOC and gyre strengths, and transports. We find that reanalyses show some consistency, in particular showing a weakening of the subpolar gyre and AMOC at 50oN from the mid‐90s until at least 2009 (related to decadal variability in previous studies), a strengthening and then weakening of the AMOC at 26.5oN since 2000, and impacts of circulation changes on transports. These results agree with model studies and the AMOC observations at 26.5oN since 2005. We also see less spread across the ensemble in AMOC strength and mixed layer depth, suggesting improvements as the observational coverage has improved.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO)
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:87019
Publisher:American Geophysical Union


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