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Human-Induced Change in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current

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  • 1 Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis, Meteorological Service of Canada, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
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Abstract

Global climate models indicate that the poleward shift of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current observed over recent decades may have been significantly human induced. The poleward shift, along with a significant increase in the transport of water around Antarctica, is predicted to continue into the future. To appreciate the magnitude of the poleward shift it is noted that by century’s end the concomitant shrinking of the Southern Ocean is predicted to displace a volume of water close to that in the entire Arctic Ocean. A simple theory, balancing surface Ekman drift and ocean eddy mixing, explains these changes as the oceanic response to changing wind stress.

Corresponding author address: Dr. John Fyfe, Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis, Meteorological Service of Canada, University of Victoria, P.O. Box 1700, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 2Y2, Canada. Email: John.Fyfe@ec.gc.ca

Abstract

Global climate models indicate that the poleward shift of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current observed over recent decades may have been significantly human induced. The poleward shift, along with a significant increase in the transport of water around Antarctica, is predicted to continue into the future. To appreciate the magnitude of the poleward shift it is noted that by century’s end the concomitant shrinking of the Southern Ocean is predicted to displace a volume of water close to that in the entire Arctic Ocean. A simple theory, balancing surface Ekman drift and ocean eddy mixing, explains these changes as the oceanic response to changing wind stress.

Corresponding author address: Dr. John Fyfe, Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis, Meteorological Service of Canada, University of Victoria, P.O. Box 1700, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 2Y2, Canada. Email: John.Fyfe@ec.gc.ca

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