Pacific Shallow Meridional Overturning Circulation in a Warming Climate
Author(s)Wang, Daiwei; Cane, Mark A.
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By analyzing a set of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 3 (CMIP3) climate model projections of the twenty-first century, it is found that the shallow meridional overturning of the Pacific subtropical cells (STCs) show contrasting trends between two hemispheres in a warming climate. The strength of STCs and equivalently the STC surface-layer transport tend to be weakening (strengthening) in the Northern (Southern) Hemisphere as a response to large-scale surface wind changes over the tropical Pacific. The STC pycnocline transport convergence into the equatorial Pacific Ocean from higher latitudes shows a robust weakening in the twenty-first century. This weakening is mainly through interior pathways consistent with the relaxation of the zonal pycnocline tilt, whereas the transport change through western boundary pathways is small and not consistent across models. It is found that the change of the western boundary pycnocline transport is strongly affected by the shoaling of the pycnocline base. In addition, there is a robust weakening of the Indonesian Throughflow (ITF) transport in a warming climate. In the multimodel ensemble mean, the response to greenhouse warming of the upper-ocean mass balance associated with the STCs is such that the weakening of the equatorward pycnocline transport convergence is balanced by a weakening of the poleward surface-layer transport divergence and the ITF transport of similar amounts.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Journal of Climate
American Meteorological Society
Wang, Daiwei, and Mark A. Cane. “Pacific Shallow Meridional Overturning Circulation in a Warming Climate.” Journal of Climate 24.24 (2011): 6424–6439. © 2011 American Meteorological Society
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