Climate Dynamics

, Volume 45, Issue 5, pp 1429–1450

Multimodel analysis on the response of the AMOC under an increase of radiative forcing and its symmetrical reversal

  • Giovanni Sgubin
  • Didier Swingedouw
  • Sybren Drijfhout
  • Stefan Hagemann
  • Eddy Robertson
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00382-014-2391-2

Cite this article as:
Sgubin, G., Swingedouw, D., Drijfhout, S. et al. Clim Dyn (2015) 45: 1429. doi:10.1007/s00382-014-2391-2

Abstract

The response of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) to an increase of radiative forcing (ramp-up) and a subsequent reversal of radiative forcing (ramp-down) is analyzed for four different global climate models. Due to changes in ocean temperature and hydrological cycle, all models show a weakening of the AMOC during the ramp-up phase. Once the external forcing is reversed, the results become model dependent. For IPSL-CM5A-LR, the AMOC continues its weakening trend for most of the ramp-down experiment. For HadGEM2-ES, the AMOC trend reverses once the external forcing also reverses, without recovering its initial value. For EC-EARTH and MPI-ESM-LR the recovery is anomalously strong yielding an AMOC overshoot. A robust linear dependency can be established between AMOC and density difference between North Atlantic (NA) deep water formation region and South Atlantic (SA). In particular, AMOC evolution is primarily controlled by a meridional salinity contrast between these regions. During the warming scenario, the subtropical Atlantic becomes saltier while the NA experiences a net freshening which favours an AMOC weakening. The different behaviour in the models during the ramp-down is dependent on the response of the ocean at the boundaries of NA and SA. The way in which the positive salinity anomaly stored in the subtropical Atlantic during the ramp-up is subsequently released elsewhere, characterizes the recovery. An out-of-phase response of the salinity transport at \(48^{\circ }\hbox {N}\) and \(34^{\circ }\hbox {S}\) boundaries is able to control the meridional density contrast between NA and SA during the transient experiments. Such a non-synchronized response is mainly controlled by changes in gyre salinity transport rather than by changes in overturning transport, thus suggesting a small role of the salt advection feedback in the evolution of the AMOC.

Keywords

Climate modellingGlobal warmingAtlantic meridional overturning circulationAMOC stabilitySalt advection feedbackReversibility

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giovanni Sgubin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Didier Swingedouw
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sybren Drijfhout
    • 3
  • Stefan Hagemann
    • 4
  • Eddy Robertson
    • 5
  1. 1.Environnements et Paléoenvironnements Océaniques et Continentaux (EPOC)BordeauxFrance
  2. 2.Institut Pierre Simon Laplace (IPSL)ParisFrance
  3. 3.Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI)De BiltThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M)HamburgGermany
  5. 5.Met Office Hadley CentreExeterUK