Cunningham Stuart A.

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Stuart A.

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  • Article
    Observation-based estimates of heat and freshwater exchanges from the subtropical North Atlantic to the Arctic
    (Elsevier, 2021-07-06) Li, Feili ; Lozier, M. Susan ; Holliday, Naomi Penny ; Johns, William E. ; Le Bras, Isabela A. ; Moat, Bengamin I. ; Cunningham, Stuart A. ; de Jong, Marieke Femke
    Continuous measurements from the OSNAP (Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program) array yield the first estimates of trans-basin heat and salinity transports in the subpolar latitudes. For the period from August 2014 to May 2018, there is a poleward heat transport of 0.50 ± 0.05 PW and a poleward salinity transport of 12.5 ± 1.0 Sv across the OSNAP section. Based on the mass and salt budget analyses, we estimate that a surface freshwater input of 0.36 ± 0.05 Sv over the broad subpolar-Arctic region is needed to balance the ocean salinity change created by the OSNAP transports. The overturning circulation is largely responsible for setting these heat and salinity transports (and the derived surface freshwater input) derived from the OSNAP array, while the gyre (isopycnal) circulation contributes to a lesser, but still significant, extent. Despite its relatively weak overturning and heat transport, the Labrador Sea is a strong contributor to salinity and freshwater changes in the subpolar region. Combined with trans-basin transport estimates at other locations, we provide new estimates for the time-mean surface heat and freshwater divergences over a wide domain of the Arctic-North Atlantic region to the north and south of the OSNAP line. Furthermore, we estimate the total heat and freshwater exchanges across the surface area of the extratropical North Atlantic between the OSNAP and the RAPID-MOCHA (RAPID Meridional Overturning Circulation and Heat-flux Array) arrays, by combining the cross-sectional transports with vertically-integrated ocean heat and salinity content. Comparisons with the air-sea heat and freshwater fluxes from atmospheric reanalysis products show an overall consistency, yet with notable differences in the magnitudes during the observation time period.
  • Article
    Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program : a new international ocean observing system
    (American Meteorological Society, 2017-04-24) Lozier, M. Susan ; Bacon, Sheldon ; Bower, Amy S. ; Cunningham, Stuart A. ; de Jong, Marieke Femke ; de Steur, Laura ; deYoung, Brad ; Fischer, Jürgen ; Gary, Stefan F. ; Greenan, Blair J. W. ; Heimbach, Patrick ; Holliday, Naomi Penny ; Houpert, Loïc ; Inall, Mark E. ; Johns, William E. ; Johnson, Helen L. ; Karstensen, Johannes ; Li, Feili ; Lin, Xiaopei ; Mackay, Neill ; Marshall, David P. ; Mercier, Herlé ; Myers, Paul G. ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Pillar, Helen R. ; Straneo, Fiamma ; Thierry, Virginie ; Weller, Robert A. ; Williams, Richard G. ; Wilson, Christopher G. ; Yang, Jiayan ; Zhao, Jian ; Zika, Jan D.
    For decades oceanographers have understood the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) to be primarily driven by changes in the production of deep-water formation in the subpolar and subarctic North Atlantic. Indeed, current Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections of an AMOC slowdown in the twenty-first century based on climate models are attributed to the inhibition of deep convection in the North Atlantic. However, observational evidence for this linkage has been elusive: there has been no clear demonstration of AMOC variability in response to changes in deep-water formation. The motivation for understanding this linkage is compelling, since the overturning circulation has been shown to sequester heat and anthropogenic carbon in the deep ocean. Furthermore, AMOC variability is expected to impact this sequestration as well as have consequences for regional and global climates through its effect on the poleward transport of warm water. Motivated by the need for a mechanistic understanding of the AMOC, an international community has assembled an observing system, Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program (OSNAP), to provide a continuous record of the transbasin fluxes of heat, mass, and freshwater, and to link that record to convective activity and water mass transformation at high latitudes. OSNAP, in conjunction with the Rapid Climate Change–Meridional Overturning Circulation and Heatflux Array (RAPID–MOCHA) at 26°N and other observational elements, will provide a comprehensive measure of the three-dimensional AMOC and an understanding of what drives its variability. The OSNAP observing system was fully deployed in the summer of 2014, and the first OSNAP data products are expected in the fall of 2017.
  • Article
    Subpolar North Atlantic western boundary density anomalies and the Meridional Overturning Circulation
    (Nature Research, 2021-05-24) Li, Feili ; Lozier, M. Susan ; Bacon, Sheldon ; Bower, Amy S. ; Cunningham, Stuart A. ; de Jong, Marieke F. ; deYoung, Brad ; Fraser, Neil ; Fried, Nora ; Han, Guoqi ; Holliday, Naomi Penny ; Holte, James W. ; Houpert, Loïc ; Inall, Mark E. ; Johns, William E. ; Jones, Sam ; Johnson, Clare ; Karstensen, Johannes ; Le Bras, Isabela A. ; Lherminier, Pascale ; Lin, Xiaopei ; Mercier, Herlé ; Oltmanns, Marilena ; Pacini, Astrid ; Petit, Tillys ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Rayner, Darren ; Straneo, Fiamma ; Thierry, Virginie ; Visbeck, Martin ; Yashayaev, Igor ; Zhou, Chun
    Changes in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, which have the potential to drive societally-important climate impacts, have traditionally been linked to the strength of deep water formation in the subpolar North Atlantic. Yet there is neither clear observational evidence nor agreement among models about how changes in deep water formation influence overturning. Here, we use data from a trans-basin mooring array (OSNAP—Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program) to show that winter convection during 2014–2018 in the interior basin had minimal impact on density changes in the deep western boundary currents in the subpolar basins. Contrary to previous modeling studies, we find no discernable relationship between western boundary changes and subpolar overturning variability over the observational time scales. Our results require a reconsideration of the notion of deep western boundary changes representing overturning characteristics, with implications for constraining the source of overturning variability within and downstream of the subpolar region.
  • Article
    Atlantic meridional overturning circulation: Observed transport and variability
    (Frontiers Media, 2019-06-07) Frajka-Williams, Eleanor ; Ansorge, Isabelle ; Baehr, Johanna ; Bryden, Harry L. ; Chidichimo, Maria Paz ; Cunningham, Stuart A. ; Danabasoglu, Gokhan ; Dong, Shenfu ; Donohue, Kathleen A. ; Elipot, Shane ; Heimbach, Patrick ; Holliday, Naomi Penny ; Hummels, Rebecca ; Jackson, Laura C. ; Karstensen, Johannes ; Lankhorst, Matthias ; Le Bras, Isabela A. ; Lozier, M. Susan ; McDonagh, Elaine L. ; Meinen, Christopher S. ; Mercier, Herlé ; Moat, Bengamin I. ; Perez, Renellys ; Piecuch, Christopher G. ; Rhein, Monika ; Srokosz, Meric ; Trenberth, Kevin E. ; Bacon, Sheldon ; Forget, Gael ; Goni, Gustavo J. ; Kieke, Dagmar ; Koelling, Jannes ; Lamont, Tarron ; McCarthy, Gerard D. ; Mertens, Christian ; Send, Uwe ; Smeed, David A. ; Speich, Sabrina ; van den Berg, Marcel ; Volkov, Denis L. ; Wilson, Christopher G.
    The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) extends from the Southern Ocean to the northern North Atlantic, transporting heat northwards throughout the South and North Atlantic, and sinking carbon and nutrients into the deep ocean. Climate models indicate that changes to the AMOC both herald and drive climate shifts. Intensive trans-basin AMOC observational systems have been put in place to continuously monitor meridional volume transport variability, and in some cases, heat, freshwater and carbon transport. These observational programs have been used to diagnose the magnitude and origins of transport variability, and to investigate impacts of variability on essential climate variables such as sea surface temperature, ocean heat content and coastal sea level. AMOC observing approaches vary between the different systems, ranging from trans-basin arrays (OSNAP, RAPID 26°N, 11°S, SAMBA 34.5°S) to arrays concentrating on western boundaries (e.g., RAPID WAVE, MOVE 16°N). In this paper, we outline the different approaches (aims, strengths and limitations) and summarize the key results to date. We also discuss alternate approaches for capturing AMOC variability including direct estimates (e.g., using sea level, bottom pressure, and hydrography from autonomous profiling floats), indirect estimates applying budgetary approaches, state estimates or ocean reanalyses, and proxies. Based on the existing observations and their results, and the potential of new observational and formal synthesis approaches, we make suggestions as to how to evaluate a comprehensive, future-proof observational network of the AMOC to deepen our understanding of the AMOC and its role in global climate.
  • Article
    Seasonality of the Meridional Overturning Circulation in the subpolar North Atlantic
    (Nature Research, 2023-05-25) Fu, Yao ; Lozier, M Susan ; Biló, Tiago Carrilho ; Bower, Amy S. ; Cunningham, Stuart A. ; Cyr, Frédéric ; de Jong, M. Femke ; deYoung, Brad ; Drysdale, Lewis ; Fraser, Neil ; Fried, Nora ; Furey, Heather H. ; Han, Guoqi ; Handmann, Patricia ; Holliday, N. Penny ; Holte, James ; Inall, Mark E. ; Johns, William E. ; Jones, Sam ; Karstensen, Johannes ; Li, Feili ; Pacini, Astrid ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Rayner, Darren ; Straneo, Fiammetta ; Yashayaev, Igor
    Understanding the variability of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation is essential for better predictions of our changing climate. Here we present an updated time series (August 2014 to June 2020) from the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program. The 6-year time series allows us to observe the seasonality of the subpolar overturning and meridional heat and freshwater transports. The overturning peaks in late spring and reaches a minimum in early winter, with a peak-to-trough range of 9.0 Sv. The overturning seasonal timing can be explained by winter transformation and the export of dense water, modulated by a seasonally varying Ekman transport. Furthermore, over 55% of the total meridional freshwater transport variability can be explained by its seasonality, largely owing to overturning dynamics. Our results provide the first observational analysis of seasonality in the subpolar North Atlantic overturning and highlight its important contribution to the total overturning variability observed to date.