Research Topics

Mechanisms of the recent decadal trend of the North Atlantic Ocean heat content

Sept 2017

The subpolar North Atlantic (SPNA) reversed trends in ocean heat content from warming during 1994–2004 to cooling over 2005–2015. ECCO V4r3 reveals that this reversal is the result of anomalous horizontal midlatitude gyre circulation acting on the mean temperature gradient, rather than changes in overturning circulation. Results have implications for decadal predictability.

Piecuch, C. G., R. M. Ponte, C. M. Little, M. W. Buckley, and I. Fukumori (2017), Mechanisms underlying recent decadal changes in subpolar North Atlantic Ocean heat content, Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 122(9), 7181-7197, doi:10.1002/2017JC012845.

Graph of ocean model data

Coherent Arctic Ocean Bottom Pressure Variations

May 2015

Across the Arctic Ocean and the Nordic Seas, GRACE and in-situ observations identified a basin-wide mode of ocean bottom pressure and sea-level fluctuation with spatially near-uniform amplitude and phase. This basin-wide fluctuation is barotropic and dominates the region’s large-scale variability from sub-monthly to interannual timescales. Using ECCO v4 and its adjoint, the source of these coherent ocean bottom pressure variations were identified as being coastally-trapped waves generated by winds along the continental slopes of the Arctic Mediterranean and its neighboring seas including the North Atlantic Ocean. Winds drive Ekman transport across the large bathymetric gradients, forcing mass divergence between the shallow coastal area and the deep ocean basins and creating ocean bottom pressure anomalies of opposite signs in the two regions. The resulting propagation and mutual interaction of these waves gives rises to the observed pressure anomalies. This study illustrates the utility of using the model’s adjoint for identifying causal mechanisms underlying a complex system

I. Fukumori, O. Wang, W. Llovel, I. Fenty and G. Forget, 2015: A near-uniform fluctuation of ocean bottom pressure and sea level across the deep ocean basins of the Arctic Ocean and the Nordic Seas. Prog. Oceanogr., 134, 152-172.

Arctic ocean bottom pressure chart