Dynamics of decadal variability in the Atlantic subpolar gyre: a stochastically forced oscillator

Born, Andreas ; Mignot, Juliette

In: Climate Dynamics, 2012, vol. 39, no. 1-2, p. 461-474

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    Internal variability of the Atlantic subpolar gyre is investigated in a 600years control simulation of a comprehensive coupled climate model. The subpolar gyre shows irregular oscillations of decadal time scale with most spectral power between 15 and 20years. Positive and negative feedback mechanisms act successively on the circulation leading to an internal oscillation. This involves periodically enhanced deep convection in the subpolar gyre center and intermittently enhanced air-sea thermal coupling. As a result, anomalies of the large-scale atmospheric circulation can be transferred to the ocean on the ocean's intrinsic time scale, exciting the oscillator stochastically. A detailed understanding of oscillatory mechanisms of the ocean and their sensitivity to atmospheric forcing holds considerable potential for decadal predictions as well as for the interpretation of proxy data records