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Potential predictability of rapid changes in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation

By Ed Hawkins and Rowan Sutton

Abstract

We explore the potential predictability of rapid changes in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (MOC) using a coupled global climate model (HadCM3). Rapid changes in the temperature and salinity of surface water in the Nordic Seas, and the flow of dense water through Denmark Strait, are found to be precursors to rapid changes in the model's MOC, with a lead time of around 10 years. The mechanism proposed to explain this potential predictability relies on the development of density anomalies in the Nordic Seas which propagate through Denmark Strait and along the deep western boundary current, affecting the overturning. These rapid changes in the MOC have significant, and widespread, climate impacts which are potentially predictable a few years ahead. Whilst the flow through Denmark Strait is too strong in HadCM3, the presence of such potential predictability motivates the monitoring of water properties in the Nordic Seas and Denmark Strait

Topics: 551
Publisher: American Geophysical Union
Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:centaur.reading.ac.uk:1287

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