08 Sep 2022
08 Sep 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

On the ocean's response to enhanced Greenland runoff in model experiments: relevance of mesoscale dynamics and atmospheric coupling

Torge Martin1 and Arne Biastoch1,2 Torge Martin and Arne Biastoch
  • 1GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Kiel, Germany
  • 2Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel, Kiel, Germany

Abstract. Increasing Greenland Ice Sheet–melting is anticipated to impact watermass transformation in the subpolar North Atlantic and ultimately the meridional overturning circulation. Complex ocean and climate models are widely applied to predict magnitude and timing of related impacts under projected future climate. We discuss the role of the ocean mean state, subpolar gyre circulation, mesoscale eddies and atmospheric coupling in shaping the response of the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean to enhanced Greenland runoff. In a suite of eight dedicated 60 to 100-year long model experiments with and without atmospheric coupling, with eddy processes parameterized and explicitly simulated, with regular and significantly enlarged Greenland runoff, we find (1) a major impact by the interactive atmosphere in enabling a compensating temperature feedback, (2) a non-negligible influence by the ocean mean state biased towards greater stability in the coupled simulations, both of which making the Atlantic Merdional Overturning Circulation less susceptible to the freshwater perturbation applied, and (3) a more even spreading of the runoff tracer in the subpolar North Atlantic and enhanced inter-gyre exchange with the subtropics in the strongly eddying simulations. Overall, our experiments demonstrate the important role of mesoscale ocean dynamics and atmosphere feedbacks in projections of the climate system response to enhanced Greenland Ice Sheet–melting and hence underline the necessity to advance scale-aware eddy parameterizations for next-generation climate models.

Torge Martin and Arne Biastoch

Status: open (until 03 Nov 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • AC1: 'Amendment to code and data availability', Torge Martin, 09 Sep 2022 reply
    • EC1: 'Reply on AC1', Karen J. Heywood, 09 Sep 2022 reply

Torge Martin and Arne Biastoch

Torge Martin and Arne Biastoch


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Short summary
How is the ocean affected by continued Greenland ice sheet mass loss? We show in a systematic set of model experiments that atmospheric feedback needs to be accounted for as the large-scale ocean circulation is more than twice as sensitive to the meltwater otherwise. Coastal winds, boundary currents and ocean eddies play a key role in redistributing the meltwater. Eddy paramterization helps the coarse simulation to perform better in the Labrador Sea but not in the North Atlantic Current region.