Intergyre salt transport in the climate warming response
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KeywordNorth Atlantic Ocean; Eddies; Hydrologic cycle; Lagrangian circulation/transport; Transport; Climate change
Regional connectivity is important to the global climate salinity response, particularly because salinity anomalies do not have a damping feedback with atmospheric freshwater fluxes and may therefore be advected over long distances by ocean circulation, resulting in nonlocal influences. Climate model intercomparison experiments such as CMIP5 exhibit large uncertainty in some aspects of the salinity response, hypothesized here to be a result of ocean dynamics. We use two types of Lagrangian particle tracking experiments to investigate pathways of exchange for salinity anomalies. The first uses forward trajectories to estimate average transport time scales between water cycle regimes. The second uses reverse trajectories and a freshwater accumulation method to quantitatively identify remote influences in the salinity response. Additionally, we compare velocity fields with both resolved and parameterized eddies to understand the impact of eddy stirring on intergyre exchange. These experiments show that surface anomalies are readily exchanged within the ocean gyres by the mean circulation, but intergyre exchange is slower and largely eddy driven. These dynamics are used to analyze the North Atlantic salinity response to climate warming and water cycle intensification, where the system is broadly forced with fresh surface anomalies in the subpolar gyre and salty surface anomalies in the subtropical gyres. Under these competing forcings, strong intergyre eddy fluxes carry anomalously salty subtropical water into the subpolar gyre which balances out much of the local freshwater input.
Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2020. This article is posted here by permission of American Meteorological Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Physical Oceanography 50(1), (2020): 255-268, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-19-0166.1.
Suggested CitationLevang, S. J., & Schmitt, R. W. (2020). Intergyre salt transport in the climate warming response. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 50(1), 255-268.
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