BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Differences in the Response of the Atlantic Ocean Circulation to Greenland Freshwater Input Using High- and Low-Resolution Models
Published: May 11, 2012
Posted: August 21, 2012

The sensitivity of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) to high-latitude freshwater input is a key uncertainty in the climate system. Considering the importance of the AMOC for global heat transport and the vulnerability of the Greenland Ice Sheet to global warming, assessing this sensitivity is critical for climate change projections. A unique set of computational experiments were conducted at Los Alamos National Laboratory to investigate the adjustment of the AMOC to enhanced melt water from the Greenland Ice Sheet under present-day conditions. This is the first time that the response of a global, high-resolution strongly-eddying ocean model was systematically compared to that of a typical coarser-grid ocean Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change-class climate model. The overall decline of the AMOC on decadal time scales is quantitatively similar (<10%) in the two configurations. However, the time-varying transient response is significantly different; the AMOC decline and reduction during wintertime convection is markedly more gradual and persistent in the strongly-eddying configuration. The strongly-eddying ocean model also responds more strongly to a traditional, single dump of freshwater, in contrast to the low-resolution model, in which the spatial distribution of the freshwater flux anomaly does not matter for the AMOC response. This study reveals the conditions under which climate projections based on coarse models need to be revisited with higher-resolution investigations.

Reference: Weijer, W., M. E. Maltrud, M. W. Hecht, H. A. Dijkstra, and M. A. Kliphuis. 2012. "Response of the Atlantic Ocean Circulation to Greenland Ice Sheet Melting in a Strongly-Eddying Ocean Model," Geophysical Research Letters 39, L09606. DOI: 10.1029/2012GL051611. (Reference link)

Contact: Renu Joseph, SC-23.1, (301) 903-9237, Dorothy Koch, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0105
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling

Division: SC-33.1 Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Jan 11, 2022
No Honor Among Copper Thieves
Findings provide a novel means to manipulate methanotrophs for a variety of environmental and in [more...]

Dec 06, 2021
New Genome Editing Tools Can Edit Within Microbial Communities
Two new technologies allow scientists to edit specific species and genes within complex laborato [more...]

Oct 27, 2021
Fungal Recyclers: Fungi Reuse Fire-Altered Organic Matter
Degrading pyrogenic (fire-affected) organic matter is an important ecosystem function of fungi i [more...]

Oct 19, 2021
Microbes Offer a Glimpse into the Future of Climate Change
Scientists identify key features in microbes that predict how warming affects carbon dioxide emi [more...]

Aug 25, 2021
Assessing the Production Cost and Carbon Footprint of a Promising Aviation Biofuel
Biomass-derived DMCO has the potential to serve as a low-carbon, high-performance jet fuel blend [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)