North Atlantic climate responses to perturbations in Antarctic Intermediate Water
- 114 Downloads
Recent observations suggest Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) properties are changing. The impact of such variations is explored using idealised perturbation experiments with a coupled climate model, HadCM3. AAIW properties are altered between 10 and 20°S in the South Atlantic, maintaining constant potential density. The perturbed AAIW remains subsurface in the South Atlantic, but as it moves northwards, it surfaces and interacts with the atmosphere leading to density anomalies due to heat exchanges. For a cooler, fresher AAIW, there is a significant decrease in the mean North Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST), of up to 1°C, during years 51–100. In the North Atlantic Current region there are persistent cold anomalies from 2,000 m depth to the surface, and in the overlying atmosphere. Atmospheric surface pressure increases over the mid-latitude Atlantic, and precipitation decreases over northwest Africa and southwest Europe. Surface heat flux anomalies show that these impacts are caused by changes in the ocean rather than atmospheric forcing. The SST response is associated with significant changes in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (MOC). After 50 years there is a decrease in the MOC that persists for the remainder of the simulation, resulting from changes in the column-averaged density difference between 30°S and 60°N. Rather than showing a linear response, a warmer, saltier AAIW also leads to a decreased MOC strength for years 51–100 and resulting cooling in the North Atlantic. The non-linearity can be attributed to opposing density responses as the perturbed water masses interact with the atmosphere.
KeywordsAntarctic Intermediate Water Perturbation Atlantic
Funding has been provided by a PhD studentship for the UK Natural Environment Research Council. This work has also been supported by a CASE studentship with the British Antarctic Survey. The research presented in this paper was carried out on the High Performance Computing Cluster supported by the Research Computing Service at the University of East Anglia. We would like to thank Ian Stevens for his technical support in the initial stages of this project, and two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments.
- Aoki S, Bindoff NL, Church JA (2005) Interdecadal water mass changes in the Southern Ocean between 30°E and 160°E. Geophys Res Lett 32:1–5Google Scholar
- Bryden HL, McDonagh EL, King BA (2003) Changes in ocean water mass properties: oscillations or trends? Sci Agric 300:2086–2088Google Scholar
- Holzer M, Primeau FW, Smethie WM Jr, Khatiwala S (2010) Where and how long ago was water in the western North Atlantic ventilated? Maximum entropy inversions of bottle data from WOCE line A20. J Geophys Res 115:1–26Google Scholar
- McCartney MS (1977) Subantarctic mode water. In: Angel M (ed) A voyage of discovery, supplement to deep–sea research, George Deacon 70th anniversary volume. Pergamon, New York, pp 103–119Google Scholar
- Meehl GA, Stocker TF, Collins WD, Friedlingstein P, Gaye AT, Gregory JM, Kitoh A, Knutti R, Murphy JM, Noda A, Raper SCB, Watterson IG, Weaver AJ, Zhao Z-C (2007) Global climate projections. In: Solomon AM, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds) Climate change 2007: The physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Molinelli EJ (1981) The Antarctic influence on Antarctic Intermediate Water. J Mar Res 39:267–293Google Scholar