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Influences of tropical–extratropical interaction on the multidecadal AMOC variability in the NCEP climate forecast system

Abstract

We have examined the mechanisms of a multidecadal oscillation of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) in a 335-year simulation of the Climate Forecast System (CFS), the climate prediction model developed at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). Both the mean and seasonal cycle of the AMOC in the CFS are generally consistent with observation-based estimates with a maximum northward volume transport of 16 Sv (106 m3/s) near 35°N at 1.2 km. The annual mean AMOC shows an intermittent quasi 30-year oscillation. Its dominant structure includes a deep anomalous overturning cell (referred to as the anomalous AMOC) with amplitude of 0.6 Sv near 35°N and an anomalous subtropical cell (STC) of shallow overturning spanning across the equator. The mechanism for the oscillation includes a positive feedback between the anomalous AMOC and surface wind stress anomalies in mid-latitudes and a negative feedback between the anomalous STC and AMOC. A strong AMOC is associated with warm sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) centered near 45°N, which generates an anticyclonic easterly surface wind anomaly. This anticyclonic wind anomaly enhances the regional downwelling and reinforces the anomalous AMOC. In the mean time, a wind-evaporation-SST (WES) feedback extends the warm SSTA to the tropics and induces a cyclonic wind stress anomaly there, which drives a tropical upwelling and weakens the STC north of the equator. The STC anomaly, in turn, drives a cold upper ocean heat content anomaly (HCA) in the northern tropical Atlantic and weakens the meridional heat transport from the tropics to the mid-latitude through an anomalous southward western boundary current. The anomalous STC transports cold HCA from the subtropics to the mid-latitudes, weakening the mid-latitude deep overturning.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Drs. J. Shukla, J. Kinter and A. Kumar for their support and guidance of this project. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions. We also thank Drs. Boyin Huang, Shaoqing Zhang, Sirpa Häkkinen, Young-Gyu Park and Caihong Wen for beneficiary discussions and useful suggestions. We are grateful to Drs. C. Stan and V. Krishnamurthy for reviewing and editing an early version of the manuscript carefully and for making many constructive suggestions. Bohua Huang is supported by the NOAA CVP Program (NA07OAR4310310). Zhaohua Wu is supported by the National Science Foundation project AGS-1139479. The CFS simulation was carried out on the NCAR supercomputing system.

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Huang, B., Hu, ZZ., Schneider, E.K. et al. Influences of tropical–extratropical interaction on the multidecadal AMOC variability in the NCEP climate forecast system. Clim Dyn 39, 531–555 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-011-1258-z

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Keywords

  • Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation
  • Climate Forecast System
  • Wind Stress Anomaly
  • Meridional Heat Transport
  • Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation Variability