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Response of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation to Climate Change from a suite of Climate Models

Wednesday, February 5, 2020 14:30to15:30
Burnside Hall Room 934, 805 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, QC, H3A 0B9, CA


Student Seminar Series

Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences


a talk by

Anne-Sophie Fortin
MSc student

Response of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation to Climate Change from a suite of Climate Models

Oceans have absorbed most of the heat energy added to the climate system by human activities, which has damped global warming. This heat energy is redistributed into the ocean interior by the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC). Changes in the MOC pattern and strength are important to understand due to their large impacts on regional and global climates. Here, we aim to investigate changes in magnitude and spatial distribution of the Atlantic MOC (AMOC) under climate change. For that purpose, we use the CM2-O suite, a hierarchy of three climate models of varying resolution in the ocean (1°, 0.25° and 0.10°). Each model of the suite has a control and a sensitivity scenario where the CO2 level of 286 ppm is kept constant for the former and increased by 1% per year for the latter.

The coarse and high resolution models show a significant slowdown and shoaling of the AMOC under CO2 forcing, while the AMOC of the intermediate resolution model is barely sensitive to the forcing. To disentangle how much AMOC change is attributable to temperature versus salinity, we reconstructed the AMOC from vertical density differences between deep water formation region and the Atlantic basin. This reconstruction, which captures well the upper cell of the AMOC (top 2 km) and the magnitude of the weakening, allows us to find that changes in salinity drive the AMOC reduction in the coarse and high resolution models.

Wednesday Feb 05/ 2.30 PM/ Room 934 Burnside Hall


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