The Influence of Ocean Convection Patterns on High-Latitude Climate Projections

M. Schaeffer Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), De Bilt, Netherlands

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F. M. Selten Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), De Bilt, Netherlands

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J. D. Opsteegh Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), De Bilt, Netherlands

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H. Goosse Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

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Abstract

The mean state and variability of deep convection in the ocean influence the North Atlantic climate. Using an ensemble experiment with a coupled atmosphere–ocean–sea ice model, it is shown that cooling and subdued warming areas can occur over the North Atlantic Ocean and adjacent landmasses under global warming. Different “present-day” convection patterns in the Greenland–Iceland–Norway (GIN) Sea result in different future surface-air temperature changes. At higher latitudes, the more effective positive sea ice feedback increases the likelihood of changes in convection causing a regional cooling that is larger than the warming brought about by the enhanced greenhouse effect. The modeled freshening of deep ocean layers in the North Atlantic in a time period preceding a reorganization of GIN Sea convection is consistent with recent observations. Low-frequency internal variability in the ocean model has relatively little impact on the response patterns.

Current affiliation: National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, Netherlands

Corresponding author address: Michiel Schaeffer, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), PO Box 1, 3720 BA, Bilthoven, Netherlands. Email: Michiel.Schaeffer@rivm.nl

Abstract

The mean state and variability of deep convection in the ocean influence the North Atlantic climate. Using an ensemble experiment with a coupled atmosphere–ocean–sea ice model, it is shown that cooling and subdued warming areas can occur over the North Atlantic Ocean and adjacent landmasses under global warming. Different “present-day” convection patterns in the Greenland–Iceland–Norway (GIN) Sea result in different future surface-air temperature changes. At higher latitudes, the more effective positive sea ice feedback increases the likelihood of changes in convection causing a regional cooling that is larger than the warming brought about by the enhanced greenhouse effect. The modeled freshening of deep ocean layers in the North Atlantic in a time period preceding a reorganization of GIN Sea convection is consistent with recent observations. Low-frequency internal variability in the ocean model has relatively little impact on the response patterns.

Current affiliation: National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, Netherlands

Corresponding author address: Michiel Schaeffer, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), PO Box 1, 3720 BA, Bilthoven, Netherlands. Email: Michiel.Schaeffer@rivm.nl

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