Location of potential energy sources and the export of dense water from the Atlantic Ocean

Oliver, K. I. C. and Edwards, N. R. (2008). Location of potential energy sources and the export of dense water from the Atlantic Ocean. Geophysical Research Letters, 35 L22604.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1029/2008GL035537

URL: http://researchpages.net/media/resources/2008/10/2...

Abstract

The export of dense water from the Atlantic and into the Indo-Pacific oceans, and heat transport in the opposite direction, is traditionally attributed to the fact that dense water forms in the Atlantic but not the Pacific. Evidence from two models, presented here, suggests this is an incomplete explanation. It is found that dense water export from the Atlantic depends on a poten- tial energy (PE) sink, associated with dense water downwelling in the At- lantic, that is not balanced by a PE source within the Atlantic. Therefore, increasing the Atlantic PE source reduces dense Atlantic water export. Tide models suggest that the Atlantic PE source may have been much higher at the last glacial maximum. This could have significantly reduced dense wa- ter export from the Atlantic Ocean, even if Atlantic overturning was stronger than it is today.

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