The response of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current to recent climate change

Böning, Claus W., Dispert, Astrid, Visbeck, Martin, Rintoul, S. R. and Schwarzkopf, Franziska U. (2008) The response of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current to recent climate change Nature Geoscience, 1 . pp. 864-869. DOI 10.1038/ngeo362.

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Observations show a significant intensification of the Southern Hemisphere westerlies, the prevailing winds between the latitudes of 30° and 60° S, over the past decades. A continuation of this intensification trend is projected by climate scenarios for the twenty-first century. The response of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and the carbon sink in the Southern Ocean to changes in wind stress and surface buoyancy fluxes is under debate. Here we analyse the Argo network of profiling floats and historical oceanographic data to detect coherent hemispheric-scale warming and freshening trends that extend to depths of more than 1,000 m. The warming and freshening is partly related to changes in the properties of the water masses that make up the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which are consistent with the anthropogenic changes in heat and freshwater fluxes suggested by climate models. However, we detect no increase in the tilt of the surfaces of equal density across the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, in contrast to coarse-resolution model studies. Our results imply that the transport in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and meridional overturning in the Southern Ocean are insensitive to decadal changes in wind stress.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: ocean circulation, climate change, Argo (floats), Southern Ocean, ANTARCTIC CIRCUMPOLAR CURRENT
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-TM Theory and Modeling
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1038/ngeo362
ISSN: 1752-0894
Projects: Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2008 16:51
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2017 13:29

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