January 13, 2023
Freshwater flux variability lengthens the period of the low-frequency AMOC variability
AbstractAtlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) exhibits interdecadal to multidecadal variability, yet the extent to which the surface freshwater flux (FWF) variability affects the AMOC variability remains unclear. This study isolates the contribution of FWF variability in modulating AMOC through a partially coupled experiment, in which the FWF effect from the atmosphere and sea ice are disabled. It is demonstrated that the FWF effect can remarkably enhance the persistence of positive salinity anomalies in the Labrador Sea, and sustain the dense water formation that was initiated by the cold temperature anomalies. Therefore, the FWF variability serves as a positive feedback on AMOC and lengthens the period of the AMOC oscillation. Further lead-lag regressions of atmospheric and oceanic variables onto the AMOC time series illuminate that the persistent salinity anomalies are generated through two pathways: i) the phase lag between temperature and salinity anomalies in the Labrador Sea; and ii) a downstream propagation of extra high-salinity anomaly along the East Greenland Current, due to the reduced sea ice melting flux associated with an atmosphere forcing over the southern Greenland tip.
Published: January 13, 2023