Ocean heat convergence and North Atlantic multidecadal heat content variability

We construct an upper ocean (0-1000m) North Atlantic heat budget (26°-67°N) for the period 1950-2020 using multiple observational datasets and an eddy-permitting global ocean model. On multidecadal timescales ocean heat transport convergence controls ocean heat content (OHC) tendency in most regions of the North Atlantic with little role for diffusive processes. In the subpolar North Atlantic (45°N-67°N) heat transport convergence is explained by geostrophic currents whereas ageostrophic currents make a significant contribution in the subtropics (26°N-45°N). The geostrophic contribution in all regions is dominated by anomalous advection across the time-mean temperature gradient although other processes make a significant contribution particularly in the subtropics. The timescale and spatial distribution of the anomalous geostrophic currents are consistent with a simple model of basin scale thermal Rossby waves propagating westwards/northwestwards in the subpolar gyre and multidecadal variations in regional OHC are explained by geostrophic currents periodically coming into alignment with the mean temperature gradient as the Rossby wave passes through. The global ocean model simulation shows that multidecadal variations in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation are synchronized with the ocean heat transport convergence consistent with modulation of the west-east pressure gradient by the propagating Rossby wave.


Publication status:
Published Online
Authors: Moat, B. I. ORCIDORCID record for B. I. Moat, Sinha, B., Berry, D. I., Drijfhout, S. S., Fraser, N., Hermanson, L., Jones, D. C., Josey, S. A. ORCIDORCID record for S. A. Josey, King, B. ORCIDORCID record for B. King, Macintosh, C., Megann, A. ORCIDORCID record for A. Megann, Oltmanns, M. ORCIDORCID record for M. Oltmanns, Sanders, R., Williams, S. ORCIDORCID record for S. Williams

17 May, 2024
Journal of Climate
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