University of Cambridge > > British Antarctic Survey - Polar Oceans seminar series > Abyssal ocean overturning slowdown and warming driven by Antarctic meltwater

Abyssal ocean overturning slowdown and warming driven by Antarctic meltwater

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Michael Haigh.

The abyssal ocean circulation is a key component of the global meridional overturning circulation, cycling heat, carbon, oxygen and nutrients throughout the world ocean. The strongest historical trend observed in the abyssal ocean is warming at high southern latitudes, yet it is unclear what processes have driven this warming, and whether it is linked to a slowdown in the ocean’s overturning circulation. Furthermore, future change in the abyssal overturning remains uncertain, with the latest CMIP6 projections not accounting for dynamic ice-sheet melt. In this talk I will present new transient forced high-resolution coupled ocean – sea-ice model simulations to show that under a high emissions scenario, abyssal warming is set to accelerate over the next 30 years. We find that meltwater input around Antarctica drives a contraction of Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW), opening a pathway that allows warm Circumpolar Deep Water greater access to the continental shelf. The reduction in AABW formation results in warming and aging of the abyssal ocean, consistent with recent measurements. In contrast, projected wind and thermal forcing has little impact on the properties, age, and volume of AABW . These results highlight the critical importance of Antarctic meltwater in setting the abyssal ocean overturning, with implications for global ocean biogeochemistry and climate that could last for centuries.

This talk is part of the British Antarctic Survey - Polar Oceans seminar series series.

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