, Volume 41, Issue 3-4, pp 775-785
Date: 01 Feb 2013

Predictability of the mid-latitude Atlantic meridional overturning circulation in a multi-model system

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Abstract

Assessing the skill of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) in decadal hindcasts (i.e. retrospective predictions) is hampered by a lack of observations for verification. Models are therefore needed to reconstruct the historical AMOC variability. Here we show that ten recent oceanic syntheses provide a common signal of AMOC variability at 45°N, with an increase from the 1960s to the mid-1990s and a decrease thereafter although they disagree on the exact magnitude. This signal correlates with observed key processes such as the North Atlantic Oscillation, sub-polar gyre strength, Atlantic sea surface temperature dipole, and Labrador Sea convection that are thought to be related to the AMOC. Furthermore, we find potential predictability of the mid-latitude AMOC for the first 3–6 year means when we validate decadal hindcasts for the past 50 years against the multi-model signal. However, this predictability is not found in models driven only by external radiative changes, demonstrating the need for initialization of decadal climate predictions.