Changes of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation (THC) excite wave patterns that readjust the thermocline globally. This paper examines the impact of a freshwater-induced THC shutdown on the depth of the Pacific thermocline and its subsequent modification of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variability using an intermediate-complexity global coupled atmosphere-ocean-sea ice model and an intermediate ENSO model, respectively. It is shown by performing a numerical eigenanalysis and transient simulations that a THC shutdown in the North Atlantic goes along with reduced ENSO variability because of a deepening of the zonal mean tropical Pacific thermocline. A transient simulation also exhibits abrupt changes of ENSO behavior, depending on the rate of THC change. The global oceanic wave adjustment mechanism is shown to play a key role also on multidecadal time scales. Simulated multidecadal global sea surface temperature (SST) patterns show a large degree of similarity with previous climate reconstructions, suggesting that the observed pan-oceanic variability on these time scales is brought about by oceanic waves and by atmospheric teleconnections.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atmospheric Science