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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2019-7
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2019-7
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 20 Feb 2019

Research article | 20 Feb 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Ocean Science (OS).

Surface predictor of overturning circulation and heat content change in the subpolar North Atlantic

Damien G. Desbruyères1, Herlé Mercier2, Guillaume Maze1, and Nathalie Daniault2 Damien G. Desbruyères et al.
  • 1Ifremer, University of Brest, CNRS, IRD, Laboratoire d’Océanographie Physique et Spatiale, IUEM, Ifremer centre de Bretagne, Plouzané, 29280, France
  • 2University of Brest, CNRS, Ifremer, IRD, Laboratoire d’Océanographie Physique et Spatiale, IUEM, Ifremer centre de Bretagne, Plouzané, 29280, France

Abstract. The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) impacts ocean and atmosphere temperatures on a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. Here we use observational data sets to validate model-based inferences on the usefulness of thermodynamics theory in reconstructing AMOC variability at low-frequency, and further build on this reconstruction to provide prediction of the near-future (2019–2022) North Atlantic state. An easily-observed surface quantity – the rate of warm to cold transformation of water masses at high latitudes – is found to lead the observed AMOC at 45° N by 5–6 years and to drive its 1993–2010 decline and its ongoing recovery, with suggestive prediction of extreme intensities for the early 2020's. We further demonstrate that AMOC variability drove a bi-decadal warming-to-cooling reversal in the subpolar North Atlantic before triggering a recent return to warming conditions that should prevail at least until 2021. Overall, this mechanistic approach of AMOC variability and its impact on ocean temperature brings new keys for understanding and predicting climatic conditions in the North Atlantic and beyond.

Damien G. Desbruyères et al.
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Damien G. Desbruyères et al.
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Short summary
In the North Atlantic, ocean currents transport warm waters northward in the upper water column, and cold waters southwards at depth. This circulation, not easily measured in situ, is here obtained from surface data and thermodynamics theory. Its driving role in recent temperature changes (1993–2017) in the North Atlantic is evidenced, and predictions of near-future variability (5 years) are provided and discussed.
In the North Atlantic, ocean currents transport warm waters northward in the upper water column,...
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