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Sensitivity of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation to model resolution in CMIP6 HighResMIP simulations and implications for future changes

Roberts, M. J. ORCID:, Jackson, L. C. ORCID:, Roberts, C. D. ORCID:, Meccia, V. ORCID:, Docquier, D. ORCID:, Koenigk, T. ORCID:, Ortega, P., Moreno‐Chamarro, E. ORCID:, Bellucci, A., Coward, A. ORCID:, Drijfhout, S., Exarchou, E., Gutjahr, O. ORCID:, Hewitt, H. ORCID:, Iovino, D., Lohmann, K., Putrasahan, D. ORCID:, Schiemann, R. ORCID:, Seddon, J. ORCID:, Terray, L. ORCID: , Xu, X. ORCID:, Zhang, Q. ORCID:, Chang, P. ORCID:, Yeager, S. G. ORCID:, Castruccio, F. S. ORCID:, Zhang, S. ORCID: and Wu, L. (2020) Sensitivity of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation to model resolution in CMIP6 HighResMIP simulations and implications for future changes. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 12 (8). e2019MS002014. ISSN 1942-2466

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/2019ms002014


A multi‐model, multi‐resolution ensemble using CMIP6 HighResMIP coupled experiments is used to assess the performance of key aspects of the North Atlantic circulation. The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), and related heat transport, tends to become stronger as ocean model resolution is enhanced, better agreeing with observations at 26.5°N. However for most models the circulation remains too shallow compared to observations, and has a smaller temperature contrast between the northward and southward limbs of the AMOC. These biases cause the northward heat transport to be systematically too low for a given overturning strength. The higher resolution models also tend to have too much deep mixing in the subpolar gyre. In the period 2015‐2050 the overturning circulation tends to decline more rapidly in the higher resolution models, which is related to both the mean state and to the subpolar gyre contribution to deep water formation. The main part of the decline comes from the Florida Current component of the circulation. Such large declines in AMOC are not seen in the models with resolutions more typically used for climate studies, suggesting an enhanced risk for Northern Hemisphere climate change. However, only a small number of different ocean models are included in the study.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:91960
Uncontrolled Keywords:Global and Planetary Change, General Earth and Planetary Sciences, Environmental Chemistry
Publisher:American Geophysical Union


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