Climate sensitivity of the Antarctic ventilation

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 11:05 AM
Takamitsu Ito and Jean Lynch-Stieglitz, Georgia Institute of Technology Main Campus, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Atlanta, GA, United States
Simple box models of ocean-atmosphere carbon cycle predict that Antarctic ventilation can regulate the steady-state atmospheric CO2 through its control over the biological carbon storage in the deep ocean. A weakened upwelling would lead to a more complete nutrient utilization at the surface and an increased retention of biogenic carbon in the deep ocean. We perform a suite of numerical sensitivity experiments using a coupled seaice and global ocean circulation model to better understand what regulates the Antarctic ventilation and its link to glacial climate. The model is first spun up with a modern climatological surface forcing, which exhibits a multi-decadal oscillation, where the Southern Ocean is heated from below through the influx of warm and salty North Atlantic Deep Water, and the accumulation of heat induces intermittent convective overturning. Through the sensitivity experiments, we explore and illustrate the rich and complex behavior of the Antarctic ventilation and its response to the northern sinking, the surface wind stress, and the global mean temperature. When the northern sinking is weakened by a freshwater perturbation, the intermittent convection events are suppressed as the heat source is reduced. When the atmospheric temperature is lowered uniformly, the Antarctic seaice extent increases and the southern overturning weakens on centennial timescales. However, the convective overturning rebounds on the millennial timescale if the northern sinking is active. We will discuss implications of our results to the deep ventilation of the Southern Ocean and its impact on the ocean carbon storage.