Research ArticleOCEANOGRAPHY

A stable Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation in a changing North Atlantic Ocean since the 1990s

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Science Advances  27 Nov 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 48, eabc7836
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc7836


The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is crucially important to global climate. Model simulations suggest that the AMOC may have been weakening over decades. However, existing array-based AMOC observations are not long enough to capture multidecadal changes. Here, we use repeated hydrographic sections in the subtropical and subpolar North Atlantic, combined with an inverse model constrained using satellite altimetry, to jointly analyze AMOC and hydrographic changes over the past three decades. We show that the AMOC state in the past decade is not distinctly different from that in the 1990s in the North Atlantic, with a remarkably stable partition of the subpolar overturning occurring prominently in the eastern basins rather than in the Labrador Sea. In contrast, profound hydrographic and oxygen changes, particularly in the subpolar North Atlantic, are observed over the same period, suggesting a much higher decoupling between the AMOC and ocean interior property fields than previously thought.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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