Grist, Jeremy P., Marsh, Robert and Josey, Simon A.
On the Relationship between the North Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and the Surface-Forced Overturning Streamfunction
Journal of Climate, 22, (19), . (doi:10.1175/2009JCLI2574.1).
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The influence of surface thermohaline forcing on the variability of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (MOC) at mid–high latitudes is investigated using output from three Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) coupled climate models. The method employed is an extension of the surface-forced streamfunction approach, based on water mass transformation theory, used in an earlier study by Marsh (2000). The maximum value of the MOC at 48°N is found to have a significant lagged relationship with the maximum surface-forced streamfunction in the region north of 48°N with a surface density greater than ?0 = 27.5 kg m?3. This correlation peaks when the index of the surface-forced streamfunction leads the MOC by 2–4 yr, depending on the coupled model considered. A method for estimating the MOC variability solely from the surface forcing fields is developed and found to be in good agreement with the actual model MOC variability in all three of the models considered when a past averaging window of 10 yr is employed. This method is then applied with NCEP–NCAR reanalysis surface flux fields for the period 1949–2007 to reconstruct MOC strength over 1958–2007. The reconstructed MOC shows considerable multidecadal variability but no discernible trend over the modern observational era.
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