Recent changes in the North Atlantic circulation simulated with eddy-permitting and eddy-resolving ocean models

Marsh, Robert; de Cuevas, Beverly A.; Coward, Andrew C. ORCID:; Jacquin, Julien; Hirschi, Joel J-M.; Aksenov, Yevgeny ORCID:; Nurser, A.J. George; Josey, Simon A. ORCID: 2009 Recent changes in the North Atlantic circulation simulated with eddy-permitting and eddy-resolving ocean models. Ocean Modelling, 28 (4). 226-239.

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Three eddy-permitting (1/4°) versions and one eddy-resolving (1/12°) version of the OCCAM ocean model are used to simulate the World Ocean circulation since 1985. The first eddy-permitting simulation has been used extensively in previous studies, and provides a point of reference. A second, improved, eddy-permitting simulation is forced in the same manner as the eddy-resolving simulation, with a dataset based on a blend of NCEP re-analysis and satellite data. The third eddy-permitting simulation is forced with a different dataset, based on the ERA-40 re-analysis data. Inter-comparison of these simulations in the North Atlantic clarifies the relative importance of resolution and choice of forcing dataset, for simulating the mean state and recent variability of the basin-scale circulation in that region. Differences between the first and second eddy-permitting simulations additionally reveal an erroneous influence of sea ice on surface salinity, dense water formation, and the meridional overturning circulation. Simulations are further evaluated in terms of long-term mean ocean heat transport at selected latitudes (for which hydrographic estimates are available) and sea surface temperature errors (relative to observations). By these criteria, closest agreement with observations is obtained for the eddy-resolving simulation. In this simulation, there is also a weak decadal variation in mid-latitudes, with heat transport strongest, by around 0.2 PW, in the mid-1990s. In two of the eddy-permitting simulations, by contrast, heat transport weakens through the study period, by up to 0.4 PW in mid-latitudes. The most notable changes of heat transport in all simulations are linked to a weakening of the subpolar gyre, rather than changes in the meridional overturning circulation. It is concluded that recent changes in the structure of mid-latitude heat transport in the North Atlantic are more accurately represented if eddies are explicitly resolved.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 1463-5003
Additional Keywords: Meridional heat transport; Meridional overturning circulation; Eddy-permitting; Eddy-resolving
Date made live: 27 Apr 2009 +0 (UTC)

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