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What are the roles of natural and human drivers in historical changes in the Atlantic Meridional Circulation?

PI: Simon Tett, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh

This project will compare patterns of change in the strength of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and ocean heat content with the output of climate model simulations to help identify human or natural causes of recent changes. Ocean re-analysis can help in assessing any changes in the observed AMOC since 1960. However, it is important to first evaluate them by comparison with high quality in situ data to build confidence in the re-analyses.

Time series of MOC components from 2004 to 2008
Left: mapped mean circulation at 700m from drift velocity data. Right: ORA-S3 reanalyses for the same depth and region.

Key questions:

  • How well does ORA-S3 re-analyses compare with observations of the sub-polar gyre?
  • Is it possible to assess any changes in the AMOC from re-analyses such as these?
  • Can re-analyses help in determining the state of the AMOC since 1960 at 25N?
  • What do the re-analyses tell us about temporal variability of large scale transports?
  • Does it matter that some re-analyses do not get deep convection forcing right in the Labrador Sea?

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