Variability along the Atlantic water pathway in the forced Norwegian Earth System Model

Langehaug H. R. , Sando A. B. , Arthun M., Ilicak M.

CLIMATE DYNAMICS, vol.52, pp.1211-1230, 2019 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 52
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s00382-018-4184-5
  • Title of Journal : CLIMATE DYNAMICS
  • Page Numbers: pp.1211-1230


The growing attention on mechanisms that can provide predictability on interannual-to-decadal time scales, makes it necessary to identify how well climate models represent such mechanisms. In this study we use a high (0.25 degrees horizontal grid) and a medium (1 degrees) resolution version of a forced global ocean-sea ice model, utilising the Norwegian Earth System Model, to assess the impact of increased ocean resolution. Our target is the simulation of temperature and salinity anomalies along the pathway of warm Atlantic water in the subpolar North Atlantic and the Nordic Seas. Although the high resolution version has larger biases in general at the ocean surface, the poleward propagation of thermohaline anomalies is better resolved in this version, i.e., the time for an anomaly to travel northward is more similar to observation based estimates. The extent of these anomalies can be rather large in both model versions, as also seen in observations, e.g., stretching from Scotland to northern Norway. The easternmost branch into the Nordic and Barents Seas, carrying warm Atlantic water, is also improved by higher resolution, both in terms of mean heat transport and variability in thermohaline properties. A more detailed assessment of the link between the North Atlantic Ocean circulation and the thermohaline anomalies at the entrance of the Nordic Seas reveals that the high resolution is more consistent with mechanisms that are previously published. This suggests better dynamics and variability in the subpolar region and the Nordic Seas in the high resolution compared to the medium resolution. This is most likely due a better representation of the mean circulation in the studied region when using higher resolution. As the poleward propagation of ocean heat anomalies is considered to be a key source of climate predictability, we recommend that similar methodology presented herein should be performed on coupled climate models that are used for climate prediction.