Extinction of the northern oceanic deep convection in an ensemble of climate model simulations of the 20th and 21st centuries
2016 (English)In: Climate Dynamics, ISSN 0930-7575, E-ISSN 1432-0894, Vol. 46, no 9, 2863-2882 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
We study the variability and the evolution of oceanic deep convection in the northern North Atlantic and the Nordic Seas from 1850 to 2100 using an ensemble of 12 climate model simulations with EC-Earth. During the historical period, the model shows a realistic localization of the main sites of deep convection, with the Labrador Sea accounting for most of the deep convective mixing in the northern hemisphere. Labrador convection is partly driven by the NAO (correlation of 0.6) and controls part of the variability of the AMOC at the decadal time scale (correlation of 0.6 when convection leads by 3-4 years). Deep convective activity in the Labrador Sea starts to decline and to become shallower in the beginning of the twentieth century. The decline is primarily caused by a decrease of the sensible heat loss to the atmosphere in winter resulting from increasingly warm atmospheric conditions. It occurs stepwise and is mainly the consequence of two severe drops in deep convective activity during the 1920s and the 1990s. These two events can both be linked to the low-frequency variability of the NAO. A warming of the sub-surface, resulting from reduced convective mixing, combines with an increasing influx of freshwater from the Nordic Seas to rapidly strengthen the surface stratification and prevent any possible resurgence of deep convection in the Labrador Sea after the 2020s. Deep convection in the Greenland Sea starts to decline in the 2020s, until complete extinction in 2100. As a response to the extinction of deep convection in the Labrador and Greenland Seas, the AMOC undergoes a linear decline at a rate of about -0.3 Sv per decade during the twenty-first century.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 46, no 9, 2863-2882 p.
Ocean deep convection, Climate change, Climate variability, Global coupled modeling, Atlantic meridional overturning circulation
Climate Research Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
Research subject Oceanography
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-123700DOI: 10.1007/s00382-015-2736-5ISI: 000374970200011OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-123700DiVA: diva2:875975