Tipping points in overturning circulation

Members of the Haine group have contributed to a new manuscript on the global ocean overturning circulation. The paper is led by Prof. Anand Gnanadesikan and is titled “Tipping points in overturning circulation mediated by ocean mixing and the configuration and magnitude of the hydrological cycle: A simple model.” Anand has submitted the paper to the Journal of Physical Oceanography and posted it to arXiv.

Anand writes: “Currently the global overturning circulation involves conversion of light water to dense water in the North Atlantic, light water to waters of intermediate density in the North Pacific, and dense water to intermediate density/light waters in the Southern Ocean. Many different factors have been invoked to explain this configuration, with atmospheric freshwater transport, basin geometry, lateral mixing, and Southern Ocean winds playing major roles. This paper develops a simple theory that combines previous theories, presents the intriguing idea that alternate configurations might be possible, and identifies multiple possible tipping points between these states.”