Global and European climate impacts of a slowdown of the AMOC in a high resolution GCM
The impacts of a hypothetical slowdown in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) are assessed in a state-of-the-art global climate model (HadGEM3), with particular emphasis on Europe. This is the highest resolution coupled global climate model to be used to study the impacts of an AMOC slowdown so far. Many results found are consistent with previous studies and can be considered robust impacts from a large reduction or collapse of the AMOC. These include: widespread cooling throughout the North Atlantic and northern hemisphere in general; less precipitation in the northern hemisphere midlatitudes; large changes in precipitation in the tropics and a strengthening of the North Atlantic storm track. The focus on Europe, aided by the increase in resolution, has revealed previously undiscussed impacts, particularly those associated with changing atmospheric circulation patterns. Summer precipitation decreases (increases) in northern (southern) Europe and is associated with a negative summer North Atlantic Oscillation signal. Winter precipitation is also affected by the changing atmospheric circulation, with localised increases in precipitation associated with more winter storms and a strengthened winter storm track. Stronger westerly winds in winter increase the warming maritime effect while weaker westerlies in summer decrease the cooling maritime effect. In the absence of these circulation changes the cooling over Europe’s landmass would be even larger in both seasons. The general cooling and atmospheric circulation changes result in weaker peak river flows and vegetation productivity, which may raise issues of water availability and crop production.