Observed and projected changes in North Atlantic seasonal temperature reduction and their drivers

Grist, Jeremy P. ORCID:; Josey, Simon A. ORCID:; Sinha, Bablu. 2023 Observed and projected changes in North Atlantic seasonal temperature reduction and their drivers. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 128 (11).

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The autumn-winter seasonal temperature reduction (STR) of the surface North Atlantic Ocean is investigated with control and climate change simulations of a coupled model and an observation-based sea surface temperature (SST) data set. In the climate change simulation, an increase in the magnitude of the STR is found over much of the North Atlantic, and this change is particularly marked in sea-ice affected regions and the subpolar gyre. Similar results for the mid-high latitude North Atlantic are obtained in the observational analysis. In particular, both the observation and climate model based results show that the STR has increased in magnitude by up to 0.3°C per decade in the subpolar gyre over the period 1951–2020. Drivers for the stronger STR are explored with a focus on potential contributions from increases in either ocean heat loss or the sensitivity of SST to heat loss. Over a large part of the mid-high latitude North Atlantic surface heat loss is found to have weakened in recent decades and is therefore not responsible for the stronger STR (exceptions to this are the near-coastal areas where sea-ice loss is important). In contrast, analysis of daily sensible and latent heat flux data reveals that the sensitivity of SST to heat loss has increased indicating that this term has played a major role in the stronger STR. Areas of greater SST sensitivity (and greater STR) are associated with increased surface stratification brought about predominantly by warming of the northern ocean regions.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 2169-9275
Date made live: 28 Nov 2023 10:38 +0 (UTC)

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