Response of Southern Ocean convection and abbyssal overturning to surface buoyancy perturbations.




Morrison, Adele
England, Matthew
Hogg, Andrew

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American Meteorological Society


This study explores how buoyancy-driven modulations in the abyssal overturning circulation affect Southern Ocean temperature and salinity in an eddy-permitting ocean model. Consistent with previous studies, the modeled surface ocean south of 50°S cools and freshens in response to enhanced surface freshwater fluxes. Paradoxically, upper-ocean cooling also occurs for small increases in the surface relaxation temperature. In both cases, the surface cooling and freshening trends are linked to reduced convection and a slowing of the abyssal overturning circulation, with associated changes in oceanic transport of heat and salt. For small perturbations, convective shutdown does not begin immediately, but instead develops via a slow feedback between the weakened overturning circulation and buoyancy anomalies. Two distinct phases of surface cooling are found: an initial smaller trend associated with the advective (overturning) adjustment of up to ~60 yr, followed by more rapid surface cooling during the convective shutdown period. The duration of the first advective phase decreases for larger forcing perturbations. As may be expected during the convective shutdown phase, the deep ocean warms and salinifies for both types of buoyancy perturbation. However, during the advective phase, the deep ocean freshens in response to freshwater perturbations but salinifies in the surface warming perturbations. The magnitudes of the modeled surface and abyssal trends during the advective phase are comparable to the recent observed multidecadal Southern Ocean temperature and salinity changes.





Journal of Climate


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Open Access

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