Southern ocean deep circulation and heat uptake in a high-resolution climate model

The dynamics of the lower cell of the meridional overturning circulation (MOC) in the Southern Ocean are compared in two versions of a global climate model: one with high-resolution (0.1°) ocean and sea ice and the other a lower-resolution (1.0°) counterpart. In the high-resolution version, the lower cell circulation is stronger and extends farther northward into the abyssal ocean. Using the water-mass-transformation framework, it is shown that the differences in the lower cell circulation between resolutions are explained by greater rates of surface water-mass transformation within the higher-resolution Antarctic sea ice pack and by differences in diapycnal-mixing-induced transformation in the abyssal ocean. While both surface and interior transformation processes work in tandem to sustain the lower cell in the control climate, the circulation is far more sensitive to changes in surface transformation in response to atmospheric warming from raising carbon dioxide levels. The substantial reduction in overturning is primarily attributed to reduced surface heat loss. At high resolution, the circulation slows more dramatically, with an anomaly that reaches deeper into the abyssal ocean and alters the distribution of Southern Ocean warming. The resolution dependence of associated heat uptake is particularly pronounced in the abyssal ocean (below 4000 m), where the higher-resolution version of the model warms 4.5 times more than its lower-resolution counterpart.

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Author Newsom, Emily
Bitz, Cecilia
Bryan, Frank
Abernathey, Ryan
Gent, Peter
Publisher UCAR/NCAR - Library
Publication Date 2016-04-01T00:00:00
Digital Object Identifier (DOI) Not Assigned
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Topic Category geoscientificInformation
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Metadata Date 2023-04-14T21:05:38.570548
Metadata Record Identifier edu.ucar.opensky::articles:18354
Metadata Language eng; USA
Suggested Citation Newsom, Emily, Bitz, Cecilia, Bryan, Frank, Abernathey, Ryan, Gent, Peter. (2016). Southern ocean deep circulation and heat uptake in a high-resolution climate model. UCAR/NCAR - Library. Accessed 02 June 2023.

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