Antarctic sea ice helps maintain the Southern Ocean overturning circulation
Recent trends in sea ice have been studied heavily. A less well-understood problem is how sea ice affects the underlying ocean, particularly the poorly observed Southern Ocean. A new study shows how the seasonal drift of Antarctic sea ice may be more important for the global ocean overturning circulation than previously realized.
A cautionary note on the use of surface heat fluxes to diagnose the causes of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation
The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation is a naturally occurring pattern of sea surface temperature change that is seen in the North Atlantic on decadal timescales and affects weather and climate. Some have suggested that the AMO is a consequence of variable large-scale ocean circulation. Yet new research suggests otherwise.
The central role of ocean dynamics in the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation
In a recent technical comment, Zhang et al. show that ocean dynamics play a central role in the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), and the previous claims that “the AMO is a thermodynamic response of the ocean mixed layer to stochastic atmospheric forcing, and ocean circulation changes have no role in causing the AMO” are not justified.
Ocean salinity is a predictor of terrestrial precipitation
Ocean-to-land moisture transport leaves an imprint on sea surface salinity, making this “nature’s rain gauge” to measure the variations of the water cycle. Two new studies provide strong evidence that salinity in the subtropical North Atlantic is a skillful predictor for precipitation in the African Sahel and the US Midwest.
Detecting human influence on oceanic oxygen
There is very little doubt that human-driven climate warming will result in widespread ocean deoxygenation; however, substantial natural variation and sparse observational records make it difficult to determine when. New research suggests that human-driven changes in oxygen levels are evident in many oceanic regions now and will be widespread in the next 15-20 years.
Summer 2014 winds gave the 2015-16 El Niño a head start
New research shows how easterly winds in the summer of 2014 caused the anomalously warm subsurface water of the tropical Pacific—which presages an El Niño event and formed following the early 2014 westerly wind burst—to never discharge poleward, thereby remaining in the tropical Pacific and giving a head start to the developing 2015-16 El Niño.