Variability of Upper Pacific Ocean Overturning in a Coupled Climate Model

Merryfield, William J.; Boer, George J.
March 2005
Journal of Climate;Mar2005, Vol. 18 Issue 5, p666
Academic Journal
Variability of subtropical cell (STC) overturning in the upper Pacific Ocean is examined in a coupled climate model in light of large observed changes in STC transport. In a 1000-yr control run, modeled STC variations are smaller than observed, but correlate in a similar way with low-frequency ENSO-like variability. In model runs that include anthropogenically forced climate change, STC pycnocline transports decrease progressively under the influence of global warming, attaining reductions of 8% by 2000 and 46% by 2100. Although the former reduction is insufficient to fully account for the apparent observed decline in STC transport over recent decades, it does suggest that global warming may have contributed to the observed changes. Analysis of coupled model results shows that STC transports play a significant role in modulating tropical Pacific Ocean heat content, and that such changes are dominated by anomalous currents advecting mean temperature, rather than by advection of temperature anomalies by mean currents.


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