The importance of deep, basinwide measurements in optimised Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation observing arrays

McCarthy, G.D.; Menary, M.B.; Mecking, J.V.; Moat, B.I. ORCID:; Johns, W.E.; Andrews, M.; Rayner, D. ORCID:; Smeed, D.A. ORCID: 2017 The importance of deep, basinwide measurements in optimised Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation observing arrays. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 122 (3). 1808-1826.

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The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is a key process in the global redistribution of heat. The AMOC is defined as the maximum of the overturning stream function, which typically occurs near 30°N in the North Atlantic. The RAPID mooring array has provided full-depth, basinwide, continuous estimates of this quantity since 2004. Motivated by both the need to deliver near real-time data and optimization of the array to reduce costs, we consider alternative configurations of the mooring array. Results suggest that the variability observed since 2004 could be reproduced by a single tall mooring on the western boundary and a mooring to 1500 m on the eastern boundary. We consider the potential future evolution of the AMOC in two generations of the Hadley Centre climate models and a suite of additional CMIP5 models. The modeling studies show that deep, basinwide measurements are essential to capture correctly the future decline of the AMOC. We conclude that, while a reduced array could be useful for estimates of the AMOC on subseasonal to decadal time scales as part of a near real-time data delivery system, extreme caution must be applied to avoid the potential misinterpretation or absence of a climate time scale AMOC decline that is a key motivation for the maintenance of these observations.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 2169-9291
Additional Keywords: Atlantic overturning; climate model; AMOC; observing systems; mooring array; climate change
Date made live: 25 Jan 2017 14:05 +0 (UTC)

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