Decadal to Multidecadal Variability of the Atlantic MOC: Mechanisms and Predictability.

Latif, Mojib , Böning, Claus W. , Willebrand, Jürgen, Biastoch, Arne , Alvarez, F. and Keenlyside, Noel (2007) Decadal to Multidecadal Variability of the Atlantic MOC: Mechanisms and Predictability. In: Ocean Circulation: Mechanisms and Impacts - Past and Future Changes of the Ocean's Meridional Overturning. , ed. by Schmittner, A., Chiang, J. and Hemming, S.. AGU Monograph, 173 . AGU (American Geophysical Union), Washington D.C., pp. 149-166. ISBN 978-0-87590-438-2

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The dynamics and predictability of the decadal to multidecadal Atlantic merid­ional overturning circulation (MOC) variability are described from observations and models. The investigation focuses on two modes that involve the MOC: One mode exhibits a quasi-decadal period, while the other is multidecadal. The two modes have completely different underlying dynamics, which is reflected in their rather different spatial characteristics. While the quasi-decadal mode represents a damped mode of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system, the multidecadal mode can be basically understood as the MOC response to the multidecadal forcing by the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). "Perfect model" predictability studies indicate a rather high predictability potential of the MOC variability on decadal timescales. Variations of the MOC are associated with variations in the meridional heat trans­port that drive sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies. SST anomalies in the North Atlantic thus exhibit a similar decadal predictability potential as the MOC. The decadal predictability carries over to the atmosphere. The probability density function of European surface air temperature anomalies, for instance, changes sig­nificantly with the state of the MOC. A reconstruction of the MOC for the 20th cen­tury from observed SSTs shows considerable variability on decadal timescales, but no strong sustained long-term trend. Furthermore, an assessment of the observed hydrographical changes in the Nordic Seas, with the aid of ocean general circula­tion model experiments and the analysis of recent scenario integrations with global climate models, indicates that the expected anthropogenic weakening of the MOC may not exceed the level of the internal variability within the next decades.

Document Type: Book chapter
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-TM Theory and Modeling
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-ME Maritime Meteorology
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
Publisher: AGU (American Geophysical Union)
Projects: Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2010 08:25
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2020 07:16

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