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Simulated Response to Recent Freshwater Flux Change over the Gulf Stream and Its Extension: Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Adjustment and Atlantic–Pacific Teleconnection

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  • 1 Physical Oceanography Laboratory, Ocean University of China, Qingdao, China
  • | 2 Center for Climatic Research, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
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Abstract

Recent observation has shown that the dominant mode of the net freshwater flux variations over the North Atlantic Ocean is the significant trend of freshwater loss over the Gulf Stream region and its extension. In this paper, the coupled ocean–atmosphere response to this freshwater flux change is investigated based on a series of the Fast Ocean–Atmosphere Model coupled-model experiments. The model demonstrates that the freshwater loss over the Gulf Stream and its extension region directly forces an anomalous cyclonic gyre and triggers a SST dipole with cooling in the western subtropical and warming in the eastern subpolar North Atlantic. The freshwater loss also forces a significant response in the atmosphere with a negative NAO-like response in early winter and a basin-scale ridge resembling the eastern Atlantic mode (EAM) in late winter. The salinification also strengthens the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and thus the poleward heat transport, leading to tropical cooling.

The freshwater loss over the Gulf Stream and its extension also leads to an El Niño–like warming in the tropical Pacific and cooling in the North Pacific, similar to the responses in previous water-hosing experiments with an input of freshwater in the subpolar North Atlantic. The tropical Pacific responses subsequently strengthen the Northern Hemispheric atmospheric anomalies in early winter, but reverse them in late winter through an emanation of Rossby wave trains. Overall, the tropical Pacific air–sea coupling plays a damping role, while local air–sea coupling tends to enhance the ocean and atmospheric responses over the North Atlantic.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Lixin Wu, Physical Oceanography Laboratory, Ocean University of China, 5 Yushan Rd., Qingdao 266003, China. E-mail: lxwu@ouc.edu.cn

Abstract

Recent observation has shown that the dominant mode of the net freshwater flux variations over the North Atlantic Ocean is the significant trend of freshwater loss over the Gulf Stream region and its extension. In this paper, the coupled ocean–atmosphere response to this freshwater flux change is investigated based on a series of the Fast Ocean–Atmosphere Model coupled-model experiments. The model demonstrates that the freshwater loss over the Gulf Stream and its extension region directly forces an anomalous cyclonic gyre and triggers a SST dipole with cooling in the western subtropical and warming in the eastern subpolar North Atlantic. The freshwater loss also forces a significant response in the atmosphere with a negative NAO-like response in early winter and a basin-scale ridge resembling the eastern Atlantic mode (EAM) in late winter. The salinification also strengthens the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and thus the poleward heat transport, leading to tropical cooling.

The freshwater loss over the Gulf Stream and its extension also leads to an El Niño–like warming in the tropical Pacific and cooling in the North Pacific, similar to the responses in previous water-hosing experiments with an input of freshwater in the subpolar North Atlantic. The tropical Pacific responses subsequently strengthen the Northern Hemispheric atmospheric anomalies in early winter, but reverse them in late winter through an emanation of Rossby wave trains. Overall, the tropical Pacific air–sea coupling plays a damping role, while local air–sea coupling tends to enhance the ocean and atmospheric responses over the North Atlantic.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Lixin Wu, Physical Oceanography Laboratory, Ocean University of China, 5 Yushan Rd., Qingdao 266003, China. E-mail: lxwu@ouc.edu.cn
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