High Resolution Model Development to Quantify the Impact of Icebergs on the Stability of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation [electronic resource].
- Washington, D.C. : United States. Dept. of Energy. Office of Science, 2016.
Oak Ridge, Tenn. : Distributed by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information, U.S. Dept. of Energy
- Physical Description:
- 3 pages : digital, PDF file
- Additional Creators:
- United States. Department of Energy. Office of Management
United States. Department of Energy. Office of Science
United States. Department of Energy. Office of Scientific and Technical Information
- In the present-day North Atlantic Ocean, relatively warm and salty water moves northwards from the tropics to the high latitudes, sinks, and returns southward towards the equator as North Atlantic Deep Water, forming the so called Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). It has been found that the stability of the AMOC is non-linearly related to the freshwater budget of the North Atlantic. In this way, additional fresh water can be added to the ocean with little impact, until a tipping point is reached that causes the AMOC to suddenly weaken and the Northern Hemisphere to abruptly cool. A great deal of uncertainty still remains over the sensitivity of the AMOC to changes in freshwater discharge as a result of the unrealistic manner in which freshwater has historically been added to climate models. Frequently, freshwater is discharged in ocean models entirely as liquid water, but in reality a large fraction of freshwater entering the ocean is ice calving from marine glaciers (half for Antarctica and two-thirds for Greenland). To more accurately quantify AMOC sensitivity to past and future changes in freshwater input, this project developed a comprehensive iceberg model to more realistically simulate the interaction between the cryosphere and the oceans at high-latitudes. The iceberg model created is written in Fortran90 and designed to scale efficiently on High Performance Computing (HPC) clusters so that tens-of-thousands of icebergs can be simulated at any time. Experiments performed with our model showed that in the Pleistocene there would have been enormous floods of freshwater released into the North Atlantic that would have transported icebergs and meltwater along the entire east coast of the United States, as far south as Florida Keys. In addition, high-resolution, modern-day, model simulations showed that if the Greenland Ice Sheet continues to melt at its current rate then there will be a 6-fold increase in the number of icebergs drifting in the North Atlantic in the next 30 years, and that the strength of the AMOC could weaken by 3.5%.
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