Irregular centennial oscillations, with a spectral peak at 106 years, were obtained from an ocean-ice coupled model for the North Atlantic with realistic coastline and bottom topography. The model's thermohaline circulation is forced by mixed boundary conditions, i.e., a Haney-type relaxation condition for temperature, but an equivalent virtual salt flux condition for salinity. All forcing fields are taken from the observed monthly mean climatological wind stress and buoyancy fluxes.
The oscillations appeared in the form of a surface—intensified tripole in both the sea surface temperature and salinity fields located in the vicinity of the Labrador Sea. The oscillations involve a delicate interplay between heat and fresh water advection by meridional overturning circulation, horizontal gyres, vertical convection, and the seasonal cycle. The oscillations are primarily controlled by the salinity component of the circulation; however, sea ice plays a minor role in driving the oscillations observed in the model. On the other hand, a regular seasonal cycle in the forcing fields is an important ingredient for the centennial oscillations.