Climate Dynamics

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 359–372

Response of the overturning circulation to high-latitude fresh-water perturbations in the North Atlantic


DOI: 10.1007/s00382-003-0385-6

Cite this article as:
Cheng, W. & Rhines, P.B. Climate Dynamics (2004) 22: 359. doi:10.1007/s00382-003-0385-6


Studies have suggested that sea-ice cover east and west of Greenland fluctuates out-of phase as a part of the Atlantic decadal climate variability, and greater changes are possible under global warming conditions. In this study, the response of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (MOC) to the distribution of surface fresh-water flux is explored using a global isopycnal ocean model. An Arctic ice related fresh-water flux of 0.1 Sv entering the Nordic Seas is shown to reduce the maximum overturning by 1 to 2 Sv (106 m3 s–1). A further decrease of 3 to 5 Sv in the MOC is observed when the fresh-water flux is shifted from the Fram Strait to the southern Baffin Bay area. Surprisingly, the salinity in much of the upper Nordic Seas actually increases when the Arctic fresh-water source is the strongest there, as a result of enhanced global overturning. It reflects the great influence of Labrador Sea convection on this model’s MOC. By applying a weaker surface fresh-water transport perturbation (0.02 Sv) on the Baffin Bay area and therefore perturbing the Labrador Sea Water (LSW) formation, we have also investigated the interaction between the overflows across the Greenland–Scotland Ridge and the LSW and find that, with the same surface forcing conditions in the Nordic Seas, volume transport of the overflows weakens when the LSW formation intensifies.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag  2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of OceanographyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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