Overturning Circulation (overturning + circulation)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Remote visualisation of Labrador convection in large oceanic datasets

L. J. West
Abstract The oceans relinquish O(1PW) of heat into the atmosphere at high latitudes, the lion's share of which originates in localised ,hotspots' of violent convective mixing, but despite their small horizontal scale,O(10,100km),these features may penetrate deeply into the thermocline and are vital in maintaining the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC). Accurate modelling of the MOC, therefore, requires a large-scale numerical model with very fine resolution. The global high-resolution ocean model, Ocean Circulation Climate Advanced Model (OCCAM) has been developed and run at the Southampton Oceanography Centre (SOC) for many years. It was configured to resolve the energetic scales of oceanic motions, and its output is stored at the Manchester Supercomputer Centre. Although this community resource represents a treasure trove of potential new insights into the nature of the world ocean, it remains relatively unexploited for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its sheer size. A system being developed at SOC under the auspices of the Grid for Ocean Diagnostics, Interactive Visualisation and Analysis (GODIVA) project makes the remote visualisation of very large volumes of data on modest hardware (e.g. a laptop with no special graphics capability) a present reality. The GODIVA system is enabling the unresolved question of oceanic convection and its relationship to large-scale flows to be investigated; a question that lies at the heart of many current climate change issues. In this article, one aspect of the GODIVA is presented, and used to locate and visualise regions of convective mixing in the OCCAM Labrador Sea. Copyright 2006 Royal Meteorological Society [source]

Trends in the boreal summer regional Hadley and Walker circulations as expressed in precipitation records from Asia and Africa during the latter half of the 20th century

Hongxu Zhao
Abstract West African summer rainfall, north China summer rainfall and a new climate proxy, snow accumulation from the Dasuopu ice core in the southern Himalaya, have all experienced decreasing trends during the latter half of the 20th century. In this paper, we investigate the existence of a common mechanism that explains these geographically dispersed trends during the boreal summer. In particular, we explore the hypothesis that these trends are related to changes in the regional Hadley and Walker circulations. We show that the divergent circulation in the NCEP reanalysis indicates the existence of trends in these circulations that are consistent with the observed changes in the precipitation records. In addition, the regressions of the divergent circulation in the NCEP reanalysis against these precipitation records indicate that a similar globally coherent signal is associated with the time series and their linear trends while the regressions against the de-trended residuals do not contain statistically significant large-scale signals. These similarities lead us to conclude that the decreasing trends in the three precipitation time series during the latter half of the 20th century are consistent with large-scale changes in the global overturning circulation during the boreal summer. Copyright 2007 Royal Meteorological Society [source]

Climate variability in Malawi, part 2: sensitivity and prediction of lake levels

M. R. Jury
Abstract Southern Africa has only a few large lakes, one of which is Lake Malawi. It forms part of the lower Zambezi catchment and the Great Rift Valley. The lake provides food, energy, transport and recreation to the local people. Inflow to the lake increases through summer (December to April) when the equatorial convection zone lies overhead. An analysis of lake levels in the period 1937,95 has been conducted and changes are related to variations in rainfall and atmospheric conditions. Interannual cycles in the time series are consistent with those found for Zambezi River streamflows, suggesting a degree of regional coherence. Years with high inflow are contrasted with mean conditions using the National Centres for Environmental Prediction reanalysis data for the period since 1958. Composite anomalies of wind fields for wet years reveal a zonal overturning circulation. Low (upper) level westerlies (easterlies) link with a sub-tropical trough in the Mozambique Channel to enhance regional convection and lake inflows. The results provide input to predictive models for Lake Malawi to plan better the management of water resources in this part of Africa. Copyright 2002 Royal Meteorological Society. [source]

Meridional energy transport in the coupled atmosphere,ocean system: scaling and numerical experiments

Geoffrey K. Vallis
Abstract We explore meridional energy transfer in the coupled atmosphere,ocean system, with a focus on the extratropics. We present various elementary scaling arguments for the partitioning of the energy transfer between atmosphere and ocean, and illustrate those arguments by numerical experimentation. The numerical experiments are designed to explore the effects of changing various properties of the ocean (its size, geometry and diapycnal diffusivity), the atmosphere (its water vapour content) and the forcing of the system (the distribution of incoming solar radiation and the rotation rate of the planet). We find that the energy transport associated with wind-driven ocean gyres is closely coupled to the energy transport of the midlatitude atmosphere so that, for example, the heat transport of both systems scales in approximately the same way with the meridional temperature gradient in midlatitudes. On the other hand, the deep circulation of the ocean is not tightly coupled with the atmosphere and its energy transport varies in a different fashion. Although for present-day conditions the atmosphere transports more energy polewards than does the ocean, we find that a wider or more diffusive ocean is able to transport more energy than the atmosphere. The polewards energy transport of the ocean is smaller in the Southern Hemisphere than in the Northern Hemisphere; this arises because of the effects of a circumpolar channel on the deep overturning circulation. The atmosphere is able to compensate for changes in oceanic heat transport due to changes in diapycnal diffusivity or geometry, but we find that the compensation is not perfect. We also find that the transports of both atmosphere and ocean decrease if the planetary rotation rate increases substantially, indicating that there is no a priori constraint on the total meridional heat transport in the coupled system. Copyright 2009 Royal Meteorological Society [source]

Observations of atmosphere-ocean coupling in the North Atlantic

Arnaud Czaja
Abstract Anindex of sea surface temperature (SST) variability, ,T, is introduced that measures the difference in SST across the separated Gulf Stream in late winter. By analysing a long observational record of SST and sea-level pressure (SLP), it is shown that ,T exhibits damped oscillations of decadal period, and covaries with the strength of a dipolar SLP anomaly reminiscent of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Analysis in the frequency domain shows a broad-band ,peak' at 10,20 years in ,T, with a continuous decrease of power on longer time-scales. Similar spectral signatures are found in the northern part of the SLP dipole (the Greenland-Icelandic Low region) but not in its southern part (the subtropical High region), whose power increases on long time-scales. The observations are interpreted in the framework of a delayed-oscillator model in which the ocean circulation introduces the delay, and modulates ,T on decadal time-scales. The decrease of power seen on long time-scales (>25 years) in the ,T index is captured by a model including wind-driven ocean circulation, and arises primarily as a passive response of the latter to the NAO forcing. Variability of the ocean's meridional overturning circulation could also play a role in modulating ,T on decadal time-scales. If a small feedback of ,T on the NAO pattern is introduced, the simple model can also reproduce the spectral structures seen in the SLP anomaly in the Greenland-Iceland region. [source]