New insights into the eastern Subpolar North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation from OVIDE

Mercier, Herlé; Desbruyères, Damien; Lherminier, Pascale; Velo, Antón; Carracedo, Lidia; Fontela, Marcos; Pérez, Fiz F.

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is a key component of the Earth's climate. However, there are few long series of observations of the AMOC and the study of the mechanisms driving its variability depends mainly on numerical simulations. Here, we use four ocean circulation estimates produced by different data-driven approaches of increasing complexity to analyze the seasonal to decadal variability of the subpolar AMOC across the Greenland–Portugal OVIDE line since 1993. We show that the variance of the time series is dominated by seasonal variability, which is due to both seasonal variability in the volume of the AMOC limbs (linked to the seasonal cycle of density in the East Greenland Current) and to seasonal variability in the transport of the Eastern Boundary Current. The decadal variability of the subpolar AMOC is mainly caused by changes in velocity, which after the mid-2000s are partly offset by changes in the volume of the AMOC limbs. This compensation means that the decadal variability of the AMOC is weaker and therefore more difficult to detect than the decadal variability of its velocity-driven and volume-driven components, which is highlighted by the formalism that we propose.

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Mercier, Herlé / Desbruyères, Damien / Lherminier, Pascale / et al: New insights into the eastern Subpolar North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation from OVIDE. 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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