Climate Dynamics

, Volume 50, Issue 9–10, pp 3833–3847 | Cite as

Emergence of deep convection in the Arctic Ocean under a warming climate

  • Camille Lique
  • Helen L. Johnson
  • Yves Plancherel


The appearance of winter deep mixed layers in the Arctic Ocean under a warming climate is investigated with the HiGEM coupled global climate model. In response to a four times increase of atmospheric \(\text {CO}_2\) levels with respect to present day conditions, the Arctic Basin becomes seasonally ice-free. Its surface becomes consequently warmer and, on average, slightly fresher. Locally, changes in surface salinity can be far larger (up to 4 psu) than the basin-scale average, and of a different sign. The Canadian Basin undergoes a strong freshening, while the Eurasian Basin undergoes strong salinification. These changes are driven by the spin up of the surface circulation, likely resulting from the increased transfer of momentum to the ocean as sea ice cover is reduced. Changes in the surface salinity field also result in a change in stratification, which is strongly enhanced in the Canadian Basin and reduced in the Eurasian Basin. Reduction, or even suppression, of the stratification in the Eurasian Basin produces an environment that is favourable for, and promotes the appearance of, deep convection near the sea ice edge, leading to a significant deepening of winter mixed layers in this region (down to 1000 m). As the Arctic Ocean is transitioning toward a summer ice-free regime, new dynamical ocean processes will appear in the region, with potentially important consequences for the Arctic Ocean itself and for climate, both locally and on larger scales.



HLJ is grateful for funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) UK Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program (UK-OSNAP, NE/K010948/1). YP acknowledges support from NERC IRF NE/M017826/1. The coupled climate model was developed from the Met Office Hadley Centre Model by the UK High-Resolution Modelling (HiGEM) Project and the UK Japan Climate Collaboration (UJCC). HiGEM is supported by a NERC High Resolution Climate Modelling Grant (R8/H12/123). UJCC was supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Global Opportunities Fund, and jointly funded by NERC and the DECC/Defra Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme (GA01101). The model integrations were performed using the Japanese Earth Simulator supercomputer, supported by JAMSTEC. The work of Pier Luigi Vidale and Malcolm Roberts in leading the effort in Japan is particularly valued. We are also grateful to Prof David Stevens for making the model data available. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire d’Océanographie Physique et Spatiale, UMR6523, CNRS-Ifremer-UBO-IRDBrestFrance
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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