Journal of Oceanography

, Volume 51, Issue 5, pp 499–517 | Cite as

The different behaviour of modeled ocean circulation under an atmosphere with different heat capacity

  • Wenju Cai


We examine the difference in modeled thermohaline circulation under an atmosphere with no heat capacity (NHC) and infinite heat capacity (IHC) in a series of numerical experiments using the Bryan/Cox OGCM. An NHC atmosphere allows ocean sea surface temperatures to respond to changes in oceanic poleward heat transport, inferring an atmosphere that is allowed to seek its equilibrium temperature, whereas an IHC atmosphere does not. This is responsible for the following different behaviour patterns under the two atmospheres: 1) under NHC atmosphere, oceanic thermal oscillation persists, whereas under IHC atmosphere it does not; 2) under NHC atmosphere, the oceanic thermohaline circulation is less sensitive to high latitude freshening than under IHC atmosphere; 3) under either atmosphere, multiple equilibrium solutions are possible. However, under NHC atmosphere, two equilibria of the thermohaline circulation are generated in the same way as in the GFDL fully coupled model, while under IHC atmosphere, they are not.


Heat Capacity Heat Transport Equilibrium Solution Behaviour Pattern Equilibrium Temperature 
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Copyright information

© Journal of the Oceanographic Society of Japan 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wenju Cai
    • 1
  1. 1.CSIRO Division of Atmospheric ResearchSpendaleAustralia

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