Effects of reduced vertical mixing under sea ice on Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) in a global ice-ocean model

Research paper by Sang Yeob Kim, Ho Jin Lee, Jae-Hun Park, Young Ho Kim

Indexed on: 09 Jul '15Published on: 09 Jul '15Published in: Ocean Science Journal


Most open ocean and climate models assume a constant background mixing; however, vertical mixing should be reduced under the sea ice in polar region because the sea-ice cover acts as an insulator against the momentum transfer between the atmosphere and ocean. Using a global Ocean General Circulation Model (OGCM), we show that the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) can be substantially affected by reduced vertical mixing under the sea ice. When the background diffusivity under the sea ice is reduced by 1 order less than that in ice-free regions, the volume transport of the AMOC in the upper 3000 m is increased by up to 14% accordingly. The numerical experiment suggests that the reduced background diffusivity makes waters denser in the Arctic Ocean and the denser water is transported into the Nordic Seas to push up the isopycnal surfaces over the Greenland- Iceland-Scotland Ridge. Consequently, the AMOC is enhanced by overflows of the denser water crossing the Denmark Strait.