National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2009

Reduced Antarctic meridional overturning circulation reaches the North Atlantic Ocean

Johnson, G.C., S.G. Purkey, and J.M. Toole

Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L22601, doi: 10.1029/2008GL035619 (2008)

We analyze abyssal temperature data in the western North Atlantic Ocean from the 1980s–2000s, showing that reductions in Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) signatures have reached even that basin. Trans-basin oceanographic sections occupied along 52°W from 1983–2003 and 66°W from 1985–2003 quantify abyssal warming resulting from deepening of the strong thermal boundary between AABW and North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW), hence a local AABW volume reduction. Repeat section data taken from 1981–2004 along 24°N also show a reduced zonal gradient in abyssal temperatures, consistent with decreased northward transport of AABW. The reduction in the Antarctic limb of the MOC within the North Atlantic highlights the global reach of climate variability originating around Antarctica.

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