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Free Content A prototype system for observing the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation – scientific basis, measurement and risk mitigation strategies, and first results

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Abstract:

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) carries up to one quarter of the global northward heat transport in the Subtropical North Atlantic. A system monitoring the strength of the MOC volume transport has been operating since April 2004. The core of this system is an array of moored sensors measuring density, bottom pressure and ocean currents. A strategy to mitigate risks of possible partial failures of the array is presented, relying on backup and complementary measurements. The MOC is decomposed into five components, making use of the continuous moored observations, and of cable measurements across the Straits of Florida, and wind stress data. The components compensate for each other, indicating that the system is working reliably. The year-long average strength of the MOC is 18.7±5.6 Sv, with wind-driven and density-inferred transports contributing equally to the variability. Numerical simulations suggest that the surprisingly fast density changes at the western boundary are partially linked to westward propagating planetary waves

Keywords: ATLANTIC MERIDIONAL OVERTURNING CIRCULATION; GULF STREAM; MOC; OCEAN CURRENTS; OCEAN OBSERVING

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2008

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