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Jennifer A. Graham, David P. Stevens, and Karen J. Heywood

Abstract

The global impact of changes in Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) properties is demonstrated using idealized perturbation experiments in a coupled climate model. Properties of AAIW were altered between 10° and 20°S in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans separately. Potential temperature was changed by ±1°C, along with density-compensating changes in salinity. For each of the experiments, sea surface temperature responds to changes in AAIW when anomalies surface at higher latitudes (>30°). Anomalous sea-to-air heat fluxes leave density anomalies in the ocean, resulting in nonlinear responses to opposite-sign perturbations. In the Southern Ocean, these affect the meridional density gradient, leading to changes in Antarctic Circumpolar Current transport. The response to cooler, fresher AAIW is both greater in magnitude and significant over a larger area than that for warmer, saltier AAIW. The North Atlantic is particularly sensitive to cool, fresh perturbations, with density anomalies causing reductions in the meridional overturning circulation of up to 1 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1). Resultant changes in meridional ocean heat transport, along with surfacing anomalies, cause basinwide changes in the surface ocean and overlying atmosphere on multidecadal time scales.

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Adrian J. Matthews, Dariusz B. Baranowski, Karen J. Heywood, Piotr J. Flatau, and Sunke Schmidtko

Abstract

A surface diurnal warm layer is diagnosed from Seaglider observations and develops on half of the days in the Cooperative Indian Ocean Experiment on Intraseasonal Variability/Dynamics of the Madden–Julian Oscillation (CINDY/DYNAMO) Indian Ocean experiment. The diurnal warm layer occurs on days of high solar radiation flux (>80 W m−2) and low wind speed (<6 m s−1) and preferentially in the inactive stage of the Madden–Julian oscillation. Its diurnal harmonic has an exponential vertical structure with a depth scale of 4–5 m (dependent on chlorophyll concentration), consistent with forcing by absorption of solar radiation. The effective sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly due to the diurnal warm layer often reaches 0.8°C in the afternoon, with a daily mean of 0.2°C, rectifying the diurnal cycle onto longer time scales. This SST anomaly drives an anomalous flux of 4 W m−2 that cools the ocean. Alternatively, in a climate model where this process is unresolved, this represents an erroneous flux that warms the ocean. A simple model predicts a diurnal warm layer to occur on 30%–50% of days across the tropical warm pool. On the remaining days, with low solar radiation and high wind speeds, a residual diurnal cycle is observed by the Seaglider, with a diurnal harmonic of temperature that decreases linearly with depth. As wind speed increases, this already weak temperature gradient decreases further, tending toward isothermal conditions.

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Benjamin G. M. Webber, David P. Stevens, Adrian J. Matthews, and Karen J. Heywood

Abstract

The authors show that a simple three-dimensional ocean model linearized about a resting basic state can accurately simulate the dynamical ocean response to wind forcing by the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). This includes the propagation of equatorial waves in the Indian Ocean, from the generation of oceanic equatorial Kelvin waves to the arrival of downwelling oceanic equatorial Rossby waves in the western Indian Ocean, where they have been shown to trigger MJO convective activity. Simulations with idealized wind forcing suggest that the latitudinal width of this forcing plays a crucial role in determining the potential for such feedbacks. Forcing the model with composite MJO winds accurately captures the global ocean response, demonstrating that the observed ocean dynamical response to the MJO can be interpreted as a linear response to surface wind forcing. The model is then applied to study “primary” Madden–Julian events, which are not immediately preceded by any MJO activity or by any apparent atmospheric triggers, but have been shown to coincide with the arrival of downwelling oceanic equatorial Rossby waves. Case study simulations show how this oceanic equatorial Rossby wave activity is partly forced by reflection of an oceanic equatorial Kelvin wave triggered by a westerly wind burst 140 days previously, and partly directly forced by easterly wind stress anomalies around 40 days prior to the event. This suggests predictability for primary Madden–Julian events on times scales of up to five months, following the reemergence of oceanic anomalies forced by winds almost half a year earlier.

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Céline Heuzé, Karen J. Heywood, David P. Stevens, and Jeff K. Ridley

Abstract

Changes in bottom temperature, salinity, and density in the global ocean by 2100 for CMIP5 climate models are investigated for the climate change scenarios RCP4.5 and RCP8.5. The mean of 24 models shows a decrease in density in all deep basins, except the North Atlantic, which becomes denser. The individual model responses to climate change forcing are more complex: regarding temperature, the 24 models predict a warming of the bottom layer of the global ocean; in salinity, there is less agreement regarding the sign of the change, especially in the Southern Ocean. The magnitude and equatorward extent of these changes also vary strongly among models. The changes in properties can be linked with changes in the mean transport of key water masses. The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation weakens in most models and is directly linked to changes in bottom density in the North Atlantic. These changes are the result of the intrusion of modified Antarctic Bottom Water, made possible by the decrease in North Atlantic Deep Water formation. In the Indian, Pacific, and South Atlantic Oceans, changes in bottom density are congruent with the weakening in Antarctic Bottom Water transport through these basins. The authors argue that the greater the 1986–2005 meridional transports, the more changes have propagated equatorward by 2100. However, strong decreases in density over 100 yr of climate change cause a weakening of the transports. The speed at which these property changes reach the deep basins is critical for a correct assessment of the heat storage capacity of the oceans as well as for predictions of future sea level rise.

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Alberto C. Naveira Garabato, Loïc Jullion, David P. Stevens, Karen J. Heywood, and Brian A. King

Abstract

A time series of the physical and biogeochemical properties of Subantarctic Mode Water (SAMW) and Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) in the Drake Passage between 1969 and 2005 is constructed using 24 transects of measurements across the passage. Both water masses have experienced substantial variability on interannual to interdecadal time scales. SAMW is formed by winter overturning on the equatorward flank of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) in and to the west of the Drake Passage. Its interannual variability is primarily driven by variations in wintertime air–sea turbulent heat fluxes and net evaporation modulated by the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Despite their spatial proximity, the AAIW in the Drake Passage has a very different source than that of the SAMW because it is ventilated by the northward subduction of Winter Water originating in the Bellingshausen Sea. Changes in AAIW are mainly forced by variability in Winter Water properties resulting from fluctuations in wintertime air–sea turbulent heat fluxes and spring sea ice melting, both of which are linked to predominantly ENSO-driven variations in the intensity of meridional winds to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula. A prominent exception to the prevalent modes of SAMW and AAIW formation occurred in 1998, when strong wind forcing associated with constructive interference between ENSO and the southern annular mode (SAM) triggered a transitory shift to an Ekman-dominated mode of SAMW ventilation and a 1–2-yr shutdown of AAIW production.

The interdecadal evolutions of SAMW and AAIW in the Drake Passage are distinct and driven by different processes. SAMW warmed (by ∼0.3°C) and salinified (by ∼0.04) during the 1970s and experienced the reverse trends between 1990 and 2005, when the coldest and freshest SAMW on record was observed. In contrast, AAIW underwent a net freshening (by ∼0.05) between the 1970s and the twenty-first century. Although the reversing changes in SAMW were chiefly forced by a ∼30-yr oscillation in regional air–sea turbulent heat fluxes and precipitation associated with the interdecadal Pacific oscillation, with a SAM-driven intensification of the Ekman supply of Antarctic surface waters from the south contributing significantly too, the freshening of AAIW was linked to the extreme climate change that occurred to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula in recent decades. There, a freshening of the Winter Water ventilating AAIW was brought about by increased precipitation and a retreat of the winter sea ice edge, which were seemingly forced by an interdecadal trend in the SAM and regional positive feedbacks in the air–sea ice coupled climate system. All in all, these findings highlight the role of the major modes of Southern Hemisphere climate variability in driving the evolution of SAMW and AAIW in the Drake Passage region and the wider South Atlantic and suggest that these modes may have contributed significantly to the hemispheric-scale changes undergone by those waters in recent decades.

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