Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2014. This article is posted here by permission of American Meteorological Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Climate 27 (2014): 9359–9376, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00228.1.
Multidecadal variability of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) is examined based on a comparison of the AMOC streamfunctions in depth and in density space, in a 700-yr present-day control integration of the fully coupled Community Climate System Model, version 3. The commonly used depth-coordinate AMOC primarily exhibits the variability associated with the deep equatorward transport that follows the changes in the Labrador Sea deep water formation. On the other hand, the density-based AMOC emphasizes the variability associated with the subpolar gyre circulation in the upper ocean leading to the changes in the Labrador Sea convection. Combining the two representations indicates that the ~20-yr periodicity of the AMOC variability in the first half of the simulation is primarily due to an ocean-only mode resulting from the coupling of the deep equatorward flow and the upper ocean gyre circulation near the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Current. In addition, the density-based AMOC reveals a gradual change in the deep ocean associated with cooling and increased density, which is likely responsible for the transition of AMOC variability from strong ~20-yr oscillations to a weaker red noise–like multidecadal variability.
Support from the NOAA Climate Program Office (Grant NA10OAR4310202 and NA13OAR4310139) and NSF EaSM2 (OCE1242989) is gratefully acknowledged.
North Atlantic Ocean
Meridional overturning circulation
Woods Hole Open Access Server