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Simulated Tropical Response to a Substantial Weakening of the Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation

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  • 1 GFDL/AOS Program, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
  • | 2 NOAA/GFDL, Princeton, New Jersey
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Abstract

In this study, a mechanism is demonstrated whereby a large reduction in the Atlantic thermohaline circulation (THC) can induce global-scale changes in the Tropics that are consistent with paleoevidence of the global synchronization of millennial-scale abrupt climate change. Using GFDL’s newly developed global coupled ocean–atmosphere model (CM2.0), the global response to a sustained addition of freshwater to the model’s North Atlantic is simulated. This freshwater forcing substantially weakens the Atlantic THC, resulting in a southward shift of the intertropical convergence zone over the Atlantic and Pacific, an El Niño–like pattern in the southeastern tropical Pacific, and weakened Indian and Asian summer monsoons through air–sea interactions.

Corresponding author address: Rong Zhang, GFDL/AOS Program, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08542. Email: Rong.Zhang@noaa.gov

Abstract

In this study, a mechanism is demonstrated whereby a large reduction in the Atlantic thermohaline circulation (THC) can induce global-scale changes in the Tropics that are consistent with paleoevidence of the global synchronization of millennial-scale abrupt climate change. Using GFDL’s newly developed global coupled ocean–atmosphere model (CM2.0), the global response to a sustained addition of freshwater to the model’s North Atlantic is simulated. This freshwater forcing substantially weakens the Atlantic THC, resulting in a southward shift of the intertropical convergence zone over the Atlantic and Pacific, an El Niño–like pattern in the southeastern tropical Pacific, and weakened Indian and Asian summer monsoons through air–sea interactions.

Corresponding author address: Rong Zhang, GFDL/AOS Program, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08542. Email: Rong.Zhang@noaa.gov

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