Publication Abstracts

Nazarenko et al. 2007

Nazarenko, L., N. Tausnev, and J. Hansen, 2007: The North Atlantic thermohaline circulation simulated by the GISS climate model during 1970-99. Atmos.-Ocean, 45, 81-92, doi:10.3137/ao.450202.

Evidence based on numerical simulations is presented for a strong correlation between the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the North Atlantic overturning circulation. Using an ensemble of numerical experiments with a coupled ocean-atmosphere model including both natural and anthropogenic forcings, it is shown that the weakening of the thermohaline circulation (THC) could be delayed in response to a sustained upward trend in the NAO, which was observed over the last three decades of the twentieth century, 1970-99. Overall warming and enhanced horizontal transports of heat from the tropics to the subpolar North Atlantic overwhelm the NAO-induced cooling of the upper ocean layers due to enhanced fluxes of latent and sensible heat, so that the net effect of warmed surface ocean temperatures acts to increase the vertical stability of the ocean column. However, the strong westerly winds cause increased evaporation from the ocean surface, which leads to a reduced fresh water flux over the western part of the North Atlantic. Horizontal poleward transport of salinity anomalies from the tropical Atlantic is the major contributor to the increasing salinities in the sinking regions of the North Atlantic. The effect of positive salinity anomalies on surface ocean density overrides the opposing effect of enhanced warming of the ocean surface, which causes an increase in surface density in the Labrador Sea and in the ocean area south of Greenland. The increased density of the upper ocean layer leads to deeper convection in the Labrador Sea and in the western North Atlantic. With a lag of four years, the meridional overturning circulation of the North Atlantic shows strengthening as it adjusts to positive density anomalies and enhanced vertical mixing. During the positive NAO trend, the salinity-driven density instability in the upper ocean, due to both increased northward ocean transports of salinity and decreased atmospheric freshwater fluxes, results in a strengthening overturning circulation in the North Atlantic when the surface atmospheric temperature increases by 0.3°C and the ocean surface temperature warms by 0.5° to 1°C.

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BibTeX Citation

  author={Nazarenko, L. and Tausnev, N. and Hansen, J.},
  title={The North Atlantic thermohaline circulation simulated by the GISS climate model during 1970-99},

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RIS Citation

ID  - na07100z
AU  - Nazarenko, L.
AU  - Tausnev, N.
AU  - Hansen, J.
PY  - 2007
TI  - The North Atlantic thermohaline circulation simulated by the GISS climate model during 1970-99
JA  - Atmos.-Ocean
VL  - 45
SP  - 81
EP  - 92
DO  - 10.3137/ao.450202
ER  -

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