Monitoring the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation at 26.5°N: RAPID-WATCH

Cunningham, S.A.. 2008 Monitoring the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation at 26.5°N: RAPID-WATCH. Southampton, UK, National Oceanography Centre Southampton, 18pp. (National Oceanography Centre Southampton Research and Consultancy Report 59)

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The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) at 26.5°N carries a northward heat flux of 1.3 PW. Northward of 26.5°N over the Gulf Stream and its extension much of this heat is transferred to the atmosphere and subsequently is responsible for maintaining UK climate about 5°C warmer than the zonal average at this latitude. However, previous sparse observations did not resolve the temporal variability of the AMOC and so it is unknown whether it is slowing in response to global warming as suggested by recent model results. In 2004 NERC, NSF and NOAA funded a system of observations in the Atlantic at 26.5°N to observe on a daily basis the strength and structure of the AMOC. Two papers ([Cunningham, et al., 2007] & [Kanzow, et al., 2007]) demonstrated that not only does the system of observations achieve a mass balance for the AMOC, it reveals dramatic and unexpected richness of variability. In the first year the AMOC mean strength and variability is 18.7±5.6 Sv. From estimates of the degrees-of-freedom the year-long mean AMOC is defined with a resolution of around 1.5 Sv so abrupt changes would be readily identified and long-term changes will be measured relative to the 2004-2005 average. The NERC contribution to the first four years of continuous AMOC observations was funded under the directed programme RAPID Climate Change. Following an international review of the system NERC will continue funding to 2014 under the programme RAPID-WATCH. The NSF and NOAA have also continued funding and commitments so that the system can continue operating at the same level of activity as during the period 2004-2008. The objectives of RAPID-WATCH are: To deliver a decade-long time series of calibrated and quality-controlled measurements of the Atlantic MOC from the RAPID-WATCH arrays and; To exploit the data from the RAPID-WATCH arrays and elsewhere to determine and interpret recent changes in the Atlantic MOC, assess the risk of rapid climate change, and investigate the potential for predictions of the MOC and its impacts on climate.

Item Type: Publication - Report (Other)
Date made live: 02 Feb 2009 +0 (UTC)

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