Heat and Freshwater Convergence Anomalies in the Atlantic Ocean Inferred from Observations

Kathryn Kelly (University of Washington, United States)


Kyla Drushka (University of Washington, USA); LuAnne Thompson (University of Washington, USA)

Event: 2015 Ocean Surface Topography Science Team Meeting

Session: Science III: Large scale and global change ocean processes: the ocean's role in climate

Presentation type: Type Oral

Observations of thermosteric and halosteric sea level from hydrographic data, ocean mass from GRACE and altimetric sea surface height are used to infer meridional heat transport (MHT) and freshwater convergence (FWC) anomalies for the Atlantic Ocean. An "unknown control" version of a Kalman filter in each of eight regions extracts smooth estimates of heat transport convergence (HTC) and FWC from discrepancies between the sea level response to monthly surface heat and freshwater fluxes and observed heat and freshwater content. The model is run for 1993-2014. Estimates of MHT anomalies are derived by summing the HTC from north to south and adding a spatially uniform, time-varying MHT derived from updated MHT estimates at 41N (Willis 2010). Estimated anomalies in MHT are comparable to those recently observed at the RAPID/MOCHA line at 26.5N. MHT estimates are relatively insensitive to the choice of heat flux products and are highly coherent spatially. MHT anomalies at 35S resemble estimates of Agulhas Leakage derived from altimeter (LeBars et al 2014) suggesting that the Indian Ocean is the source of the anomalous heat inflow. FWC estimates in the Atlantic Ocean (67N to 35S) resemble estimates of Atlantic river inflow (de Couet and Maurer, GRDC 2009). Increasing values of FWC after 2002 at a time when MHT was decreasing may indicate a feedback between the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and FWC that would accelerate the AMOC slowdown.

Oral presentation show times:

RoomStart DateEnd Date
Grand Ballroom 2 Thu, Oct 22 2015,09:00 Thu, Oct 22 2015,09:15
Kathryn Kelly
University of Washington
United States