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Reconciling the Relationship Between the AMOC and Labrador Sea in OSNAP Observations and Climate Models

Matthew Menary 1 Laura Jackson 2 M. Susan Lozier 3
1 VARCLIM - Océan et variabilité du climat
LOCEAN - Laboratoire d'Océanographie et du Climat : Expérimentations et Approches Numériques
Abstract : The AMOC (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation) is a key driver of climate variability. Our understanding, based largely on climate models, is that the Labrador Sea has an important role in shaping the evolution of the AMOC. However, a recent high‐profile observational campaign (Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic, OSNAP) has called into question the importance of the Labrador Sea, and hence the credibility of the AMOC representation in climate models. Here, we attempt to reconcile these viewpoints by making the first direct comparison between OSNAP and a coupled climate model. The model compares well to the observations, demonstrating a more prominent role for overturning in the eastern than western subpolar gyre. Density anomalies generated by surface forcing in the Irminger Sea propagate into the Labrador Sea, where they dominate the density variability. Thus, the Labrador Sea may not be the origin of AMOC variability despite correlations with densities there.
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Matthew Menary, Laura Jackson, M. Susan Lozier. Reconciling the Relationship Between the AMOC and Labrador Sea in OSNAP Observations and Climate Models. Geophysical Research Letters, American Geophysical Union, 2020, 47 (18), pp.e2020GL089793. ⟨10.1029/2020GL089793⟩. ⟨hal-02978297⟩

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