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Journal Articles Journal of Physical Oceanography Year : 2006

A decomposition of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation into physical components using its sensitivity to vertical diffusivity

Abstract

The sensitivity of the Atlantic Ocean meridional overturning circulation to the vertical diffusion coefficient in the global coupled atmosphere–ocean–sea ice model CLIMBER-3 is investigated. An important feature of the three-dimensional ocean model is its low-diffusive tracer advection scheme. The strength Mmax of the Atlantic overturning is decomposed into three components: 1) the flow MS exported southward at 30°S, 2) the large-scale upward flow that balances vertical diffusion in the Atlantic, and 3) a winddependent upwelling flux Wbound along the Atlantic boundaries that is not due to vertical diffusion. The export of water at 30°S varies only weakly with , but is strongly correlated with the strength of the overflow over the Greenland–Scotland ridge. The location of deep convection is found to be mixing dependent such that a shift from the Nordic seas to the Irminger Sea is detected for high values of . The ratio R MS/Mmax gives a measure of the interhemispheric overturning efficiency and is found to decrease linearly with . The diffusion-induced upwelling in the Atlantic is mostly due to the uniform background value of while parameterization of enhanced mixing over rough topography and in stratified areas gives only a weak contribution to the overturning strength. It increases linearly with . This is consistent with the classic 2/3 scaling law only when taking the linear variation of the density difference to into account. The value of Wbound is roughly constant with but depends linearly on the wind stress strength in the North Atlantic. The pycnocline depth is not sensitive to changes in in the model used herein, and the results suggest that it is primarily set by the forcing of the Southern Ocean winds. The scaling of the total overturning strength with depends on the combined sensitivity of each of the terms to . In the range of background diffusivity values in which no switch in deep convection sites is detected, Mmax scales linearly with the vertical diffusivity. It is argued that scalings have, in general, to be interpreted with care because of the generally very small range of but also because of possible shifts in important physical processes such as deep convection location.
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hal-00164658 , version 1 (09-06-2021)

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Juliette Mignot, Anders Levermann, Alexa Griesel. A decomposition of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation into physical components using its sensitivity to vertical diffusivity. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 2006, 36 (4), pp.636-650. ⟨10.1175/JPO2891.1⟩. ⟨hal-00164658⟩
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