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Diagnosing and Picturing the North Atlantic Segment of the Global Conveyor Belt by Means of an Ocean General Circulation Model

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  • 1 Laboratoire de Physique des Océans, CNRS-IFREMER-UBO, Brest, France
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Abstract

The monthly mean velocity, salinity, and temperature fields of a numerical simulation of the World Ocean climatological circulation are used to study the intensity and pathways associated with the meridional overturning in the North Atlantic. Lagrangian diagnostics based on the computation of several hundreds of thousands of individual three-dimensional trajectories are combined with an appropriate study of water mass potential densities in order to describe the warm and cold limbs of the so-called conveyor belt. Circulation schemes are established for both limbs of the overturning, and can be easily compared with schemes or transport estimates deduced from direct measurements, as the model temperature and salinity fields are constrained to remain close to the observed climatology. Diagnostics emphasize most typical pathways as well as main mass transfers that lead to the establishment of such numerical circulation schemes.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Bruno Blanke, Laboratoire de Physique des Océans, UFR Sciences et Techniques, 6 avenue Le Gorgeu, B.P. 809, 29285 Brest Cedex, France. Email: blanke@univ-brest.fr

Abstract

The monthly mean velocity, salinity, and temperature fields of a numerical simulation of the World Ocean climatological circulation are used to study the intensity and pathways associated with the meridional overturning in the North Atlantic. Lagrangian diagnostics based on the computation of several hundreds of thousands of individual three-dimensional trajectories are combined with an appropriate study of water mass potential densities in order to describe the warm and cold limbs of the so-called conveyor belt. Circulation schemes are established for both limbs of the overturning, and can be easily compared with schemes or transport estimates deduced from direct measurements, as the model temperature and salinity fields are constrained to remain close to the observed climatology. Diagnostics emphasize most typical pathways as well as main mass transfers that lead to the establishment of such numerical circulation schemes.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Bruno Blanke, Laboratoire de Physique des Océans, UFR Sciences et Techniques, 6 avenue Le Gorgeu, B.P. 809, 29285 Brest Cedex, France. Email: blanke@univ-brest.fr

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