Time of Emergence of Human-Induced Climate Signal in the World Ocean Water-Masses

Yona Silvy1, Eric Guilyardi1, Jean-baptiste Sallee1 and Paul James Durack2, (1)LOCEAN-IPSL, CNRS/IRD/MNHN/Sorbonne Université, Paris, France, (2)Lawrence Livermore Nat. Lab., Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison, Livermore, CA, United States
The World Ocean is rapidly changing, with global and regional modification of ocean temperature and salinity at surface and at depth. These changes have widespread and important impacts including sea-level rise, change of the chemical content of the deep ocean including oxygen and carbon contents, or changing habitat and diversity of the rich ocean ecosystems. While the most pronounced temperature and salinity changes are located in the upper few hundred meters, changes in water-masses at depth are already observed and will likely strengthen and persist in the future as water-masses form at the surface and propagate in the deep ocean along density surfaces, storing the anthropogenic signal away from the atmosphere for decades to millennia. Here, using 11 state-of-the-art climate models, we unveil when to expect anthropogenic temperature and salinity changes in the ocean interior water-masses to be distinguishable from natural background variability. On a basin-scale zonal average, the model simulations predict that in 2020, 25–60% of the 3 ocean basins have emerged, i.e. anthropogenically forced signal overcomes natural variability; reaching 45–70% in 2050, and 60–80% in 2080. The well-ventilated Southern Ocean water-masses stand out as emerging very rapidly, as early as the 1980s or 1990s, while their Northern Hemisphere counterparts emerge in the 2010s to 2030s. Our results have important implications for adaptation strategies in that they can guide observation systems in detecting forced ocean changes.