A prototype system for observing the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation–scientific basis, measurement and risk mitigation strategies, and first results

Torsten Kanzow, Joöl J.M. Hirschi, Christopher Meinen, Darren Rayner, Stuart A. Cunningham, Jochem Marotzke, William E. Johns, Harry L. Bryden, Lisa M. Beal, Molly O. Baringer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) carries up to one quarter of the global northward heat transport in the Subtropical North Atlantic. A system monitoring the strength of the MOC volume transport has been operating since April 2004. The core of this system is an array of moored sensors measuring density, bottom pressure and ocean currents. A strategy to mitigate risks of possible partial failures of the array is presented, relying on backup and complementary measurements. The MOC is decomposed into five components, making use of the continuous moored observations, and of cable measurements across the Straits of Florida, and wind stress data. The components compensate for each other, indicating that the system is working reliably. The year-long average strength of the MOC is 18.7±5.6 Sv, with wind-driven and density-inferred transports contributing equally to the variability. Numerical simulations suggest that the surprisingly fast density changes at the western boundary are partially linked to westward propagating planetary waves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-28
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Operational Oceanography
Volume1
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography

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