Spatial analysis of early-warning signals for a North Atlantic climate transition in a coupled GCM.

Klus, Andrea , Prange, Matthias , Varma, Vidya and Schulz, Michael (2019) Spatial analysis of early-warning signals for a North Atlantic climate transition in a coupled GCM. Climate Dynamics, 53 (1-2). pp. 97-113. DOI 10.1007/s00382-018-4567-7.

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The climate system can potentially switch from one stable state to another. The closer a system is to a bifurcation point (i.e., ‘tipping point’), the more likely it is that even small perturbations can force the system to experience a state shift, e.g., a collapsing Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) and associated cooling in parts of the North Atlantic. Here, we present an abrupt state transition from a warm to a cold North Atlantic climate state with expanded sea ice during an orbitally forced transient Holocene simulation performed with the Community Climate System Model version 3. The state transition is associated with a weakening of the AMOC by about 33% in this simulation. The changing background climate induced by slow external orbital forcing plays an important role for the abrupt climate shift. The model allows the identification of regions and variables that play a key role for a potential climate transition and show early-warning signals. Increase in autocorrelation and standard deviation as well as trends in skewness especially for sea-surface salinity in the northern North Atlantic are identified as robust early-warning signals, whereas no early-warning signals are found in the time series of the AMOC stream function.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Early-warning signals; Climate transition; North Atlantic; AMOC
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
Publisher: Springer
Projects: PalMod in-kind
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2020 10:58
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2022 09:22

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