An increasing amount of freshwater has been observed to enter the Arctic Ocean from the six largest Eurasian rivers over the past several decades. The increasing trend is projected to continue in the twenty-first century according to Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) coupled models. The present study found that water flux from rivers to the Arctic Ocean at the end of the century will be 1.4 times that in 1950 according to CMIP5 projection results under Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5. The effect of increasing Arctic river runoff on the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) was investigated using an ocean-ice coupled model. Results obtained from two numerical experiments show that 100, 150 and 200 years after the start of an increase in the Arctic river runoff at a rate of 0.22%/a, the AMOC will weaken by 0.6 (3%), 1.2 (7%) and 1.8 (11%) Sv. AMOC weakening is mainly caused by freshwater transported from increasing Arctic river runoff inhibiting the formation of North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW). As the AMOC weakens, the deep seawater age will become older throughout the Atlantic Basin owing to the increasing of Arctic runoff.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Bryden H L, Longworth H R, Cunningham S A. 2005. Slowing of the atlantic meridional overturning circulation at 25°N. Nature, 438(7068): 655–657
Cheng Wei, Chiang J C H, Zhang Dongxiao. 2013. Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) in CMIP5 models: RCP and historical simulations. Journal of Climate, 26(18): 7187–7197
Dai Aiguo, Qian Taotao, Trenberth K E, et al. 2009. Changes in continental freshwater discharge from 1948 to 2004. Journal of Climate, 22(10): 2773–2792
Fichot C G, Kaiser K, Hooker S B, et al. 2013. Pan-Arctic distributions of continental runoff in the Arctic Ocean. Scientific reports, 3: 1053
England M H. 1995. The age of water and ventilation timescales in a global ocean model. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 25(11): 2756–2777
Griffies S M. 2012. Elements of the modular ocean model (MOM): 2012 release. GFDL Ocean Group Technical Report No. 7. Princeton, NJ: NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, 618. http://mom-ocean.org/web/docs/project/MOM5_elements.pdf [2014-11-19/2015-7-15]
Griffies S M, Biastoch A, Böning C, et al. 2009. Coordinated ocean-ice reference experiments (COREs). Ocean Modelling, 26(1–2): 1–46
Huang N E, Shen Zheng, Long S R, et al. 1998. The empirical mode decomposition and the Hilbert spectrum for nonlinear and non-stationary time series analysis. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 454(1971): 903–905
Kattsov V M, Walsh J E, Chapman W L, et al. 2007. Simulation and projection of Arctic freshwater budget components by the IPCC AR4 global climate models. Journal of Hydrometeorology, 8(3): 571–589
Large W G, Yeager S G. 2009. The global climatology of an interannually varying air-sea flux data set. Climate Dynamics, 33(2–3): 341–364
Li P X. 2009. Dominant climate factors influencing the Arctic runoff and association between the runoff and Arctic sea ice (in Chinese) [dissertation]. Qingdao: Ocean Univercity of China
Morison J, Kwok R, Peralta-Ferriz C, et al. 2012. Changing Arctic Ocean freshwater pathways. Nature, 481(7379): 66–70
Peterson B J, Holmes R M, McClelland J W, et al. 2002. Increasing river discharge to the Arctic Ocean. Science, 298(5601): 2171–2173
Rennermalm A K, Wood E F, Déry S J, et al. 2006. Sensitivity of the thermohaline circulation to Arctic Ocean runoff. Geophysical Research Letters, 33(12): doi: 10.1029/2006GL026124
Serreze M C, Barrett A P, Slater A G, et al. 2006. The large-scale freshwater cycle of the Arctic. Journal of Geophysical Research, 111(C11): doi: 10.1029/2005JC003424
Serreze M C, Barry R G. 2005. The Arctic Climate System. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Srokosz M A, Bryden H L. 2015. Observing the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation yields a decade of inevitable surprises. Science, 348(6241): 1255575
Stouffer R J, Yin J, Gregory J M, et al. 2006. Investigating the causes of the response of the thermohaline circulation to past and future climate changes. Journal of Climate, 19(8): 1365–1387
Sui Cuijuan, Zhang Zhanhai, Liu Jiping, et al. 2008. Variation of Arctic runoff and its association with climate factors. Haiyang Xuebao (in Chinese), 30(4): 39–47
Survey U. 2012. Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/150290 [2010-3-2/2015-4-6]
Winton M. 2000. A reformulated three-layer sea ice model. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 17(4): 525–531
Wu Zhaohua, Huang N E. 2009. Ensemble empirical mode decomposition: a noise-assisted data analysis method. Advances in Adaptive Data Analysis, 1(1): doi: 10.1142/S1793536909000047
Zhang Xiangdong, He Juanxiong, Zhang Jing, et al. 2013. Enhanced poleward moisture transport and amplified northern high-latitude wetting trend. Nature Climate Change, 3(1): 47–51
The observed annual flow of Eurasian rivers are from http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/catalog/surface/dai-runoff/ index.html, and the model forcing data are download from http://data1.gfdl.noaa.gov/nomads/forms/mom4/COREv2.html. The authors thank the above data providers.
Foundation item: The Project of Comprehensive Evaluation of Polar Areas on Global and Regional Climate Changes under contract No. CHINARE2016-04-04; the National Natural Science Foundation of China under contract No. 41406027; the NSFC-Shandong Joint Fund for Marine Science Research Centers under contract No. U1406404; the Basic Research Operating Funds of The First Institute of Oceanography, State Oceanic Administration of China under contract Nos 2015P03 and 2015P01.
About this article
Cite this article
Shu, Q., Qiao, F., Song, Z. et al. Effect of increasing Arctic river runoff on the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation: a model study. Acta Oceanol. Sin. 36, 59–65 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13131-017-1009-z
- climate change
- Arctic river runoff
- Atlantic meridional overturning circulation