Decadal evolution of ocean thermal anomalies in the north Atlantic: The effects of ekman, overturning, and horizontal transport

Published

Journal Article

Basin-scale thermal anomalies in the North Atlantic, extending to depths of 1-2km, are more pronounced than the background warming over the last 60 years.Adynamical analysis based on reanalyses of historical data from 1965 to 2000 suggests that these thermal anomalies are formed by ocean heat convergences, augmented by the poorly known air-sea fluxes. The heat convergence is separated into contributions from the horizontal circulation and the meridional overturning circulation (MOC), the latter further separated into Ekman and MOC transport minus Ekman transport (MOC-Ekman) cells. The subtropical thermal anomalies are mainly controlled by wind-induced changes in the Ekman heat convergence, while the subpolar thermal anomalies are controlled by the MOC-Ekman heat convergence; the horizontal heat convergence is generally weaker, only becoming significant within the subpolar gyre. These thermal anomalies often have an opposing sign between the subtropical and subpolar gyres, associatedwith opposing changes in themeridional volume transport driving the Ekman and MOC-Ekman heat convergences. These changes in gyre-scale convergences in heat transport are probably induced by the winds, as they correlate with the zonal wind stress at gyre boundaries. © 2014 American Meteorological Society.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Williams, RG; Roussenov, V; Smith, D; Lozier, MS

Published Date

  • January 1, 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 27 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 698 - 719

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0894-8755

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00234.1

Citation Source

  • Scopus