Study projects the future of Atlantic climate variability

April 14, 2016

Using computer models with future global warming scenarios, UW-Madison Professor Zhengyu Liu recently investigated the effects of climate change on the amplitude and time scale of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), an ocean current that is a key component of the climate system.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that interdecadal variability of AMOC will be shortened and weakened under future global warming scenarios. AMOC's interdecadal variability significantly modulates climate changes around the North Atlantic region and worldwide.

The international team of researchers, led by Jun Cheng of the Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology in China, proposes that the shortening of the variability is caused by the changing oceanic wave speed in response to global warming, which subsequently reduces the amplitude of the variability. This finding should contribute significantly to the understanding and projection of future climate changes.

A professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and a faculty affiliate of the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research, Liu studies the interaction between the atmosphere, ocean system and climate, leading a new era of model-data comparison in simulating Earth's climate.

Topographic map of the Nordic Seas and subpolar basins with schematic circulation of surface currents (solid curves) and deep currents (dashed curves) that form a portion of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation  Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-03-variability-major-oceanic-currents-driven.html#jCp
Topographic map of the Nordic Seas and subpolar basins with schematic circulation of surface currents (solid curves) and deep currents (dashed curves) that form a portion of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. Colors of curves indicate approximate temperatures. Credit: R. Curry, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution/Science/USGCRP. Image source: Phys.org


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