Properties, sensitivity, and stability of the Southern Hemisphere salinity minimum layer in the UKESM1 model

Type Article
Date 2023
Language English
Author(s) Meuriot OphélieORCID1, Lique CamilleORCID2, Plancherel YvesORCID1
Affiliation(s) 1 : Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London, London, UK
2 : Univ. Brest, CNRS, IRD, Ifremer, Laboratoire d’Océanographie Physique et Spatiale (LOPS), IUEM, Brest, 29280, France
Source Climate Dynamics (0930-7575) (Springer Science and Business Media LLC), 2023 , Vol. 60 , P. 87-107
DOI 10.1007/s00382-022-06304-2
Keyword(s) AAIW, UKESM1, CMIP6, Southern Ocean

Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) is a water mass originating in the Southern Ocean characterised by its low salinity. The properties of the salinity minimum layer that characterise AAIW in the CMIP6 UKESM1 model and its response to different climate change scenarios are investigated. In UKESM1, the depth of the salinity minimum shoals by 116 m in the SSP5-8.5 run compared to the control run by 2080–2100. The salinity minimum also gets warmer (+ 1.9 °C) and lighter (− 0.4 kg/m3) and surface properties where the salinity minimum outcrops warm, freshen and lighten in all scenarios. In spite of these expected changes in properties, the location where the salinity minimum outcrops does not change in any of the future scenarios. The stability of the outcrop location of the salinity minimum is linked to the relative stability of the position of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) in UKESM1. The position of the ACC does not follow the maximum wind stress trend, which intensifies and shifts poleward under radiative forcing. Changes in surface buoyancy fluxes in the region are consistent with the changes in hydrographic properties observed at depth on the salinity minimum mentioned above. However, transformation rates at the density corresponding to the salinity minimum outcrop remain constant in all scenarios. Stability in transformation rates at that density is due to the haline and thermal contributions counteracting one another. This analysis identifies two features (outcrop location, transformation rate) associated with the salinity minimum defining AAIW that show remarkable stability in an otherwise changing world. The effect of model resolution and other parameterisations on these findings have yet to be evaluated.

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