Climate Dynamics

, Volume 39, Issue 3–4, pp 1021–1042 | Cite as

Decadal-timescale changes of the Atlantic overturning circulation and climate in a coupled climate model with a hybrid-coordinate ocean component

  • A. PersechinoEmail author
  • R. Marsh
  • B. Sinha
  • A. P. Megann
  • A. T. Blaker
  • A. L. New


A wide range of statistical tools is used to investigate the decadal variability of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and associated key variables in a climate model (CHIME, Coupled Hadley-Isopycnic Model Experiment), which features a novel ocean component. CHIME is as similar as possible to the 3rd Hadley Centre Coupled Model (HadCM3) with the important exception that its ocean component is based on a hybrid vertical coordinate. Power spectral analysis reveals enhanced AMOC variability for periods in the range 15–30 years. Strong AMOC conditions are associated with: (1) a Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomaly pattern reminiscent of the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) response, but associated with variations in a northern tropical-subtropical gradient; (2) a Surface Air Temperature anomaly pattern closely linked to SST; (3) a positive North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)-like pattern; (4) a northward shift of the Intertropical Convergence Zone. The primary mode of AMOC variability is associated with decadal changes in the Labrador Sea and the Greenland Iceland Norwegian (GIN) Seas, in both cases linked to the tropical activity about 15 years earlier. These decadal changes are controlled by the low-frequency NAO that may be associated with a rapid atmospheric teleconnection from the tropics to the extratropics. Poleward advection of salinity anomalies in the mixed layer also leads to AMOC changes that are linked to processes in the Labrador Sea. A secondary mode of AMOC variability is associated with interannual changes in the Labrador and GIN Seas, through the impact of the NAO on local surface density.


Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation North Atlantic Oscillation Coupled climate model Isopycnal Decadal variability 



This work is funded under the “Strategic Ocean Funding Initiative” (SOFI) of the NERC Oceans 2025 research programme (Grant # NE/F012241/1). We also acknowledge the RAPID-THCMIP project. The authors are grateful to Juliette Mignot, Eric Guilyardi and Claude Frankignoul at LOCEAN (Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace, Jussieu, Paris) for their useful comments. We finally thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers for insightful remarks and constructive suggestions that led to substantial improvement of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Persechino
    • 1
    Email author
  • R. Marsh
    • 1
  • B. Sinha
    • 2
  • A. P. Megann
    • 2
  • A. T. Blaker
    • 2
  • A. L. New
    • 2
  1. 1.Ocean and Earth ScienceUniversity of SouthamptonSouthampton, HampshireUK
  2. 2.National Oceanography CentreSouthampton, HampshireUK

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