The Pacific meridional overturning circulation (PMOC) is not well known compared to the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), due to its absence today. However, considering PMOC development under different climate conditions shown by proxy and modeling studies, a better understanding of PMOC is appropriate to properly assess the past and future climate change associated with global ocean circulation. Here, the PMOC response to freshwater forcing in the North Atlantic (NA) is investigated using an Earth system model of intermediate complexity under glacial (i.e., Last Glacial Maximum) and interglacial [i.e., preindustrial with/without inflow through Bering Strait (BS)] conditions. The water hosing over NA led to the shutdown of the AMOC, which accompanied an active PMOC except for the preindustrial condition with the opening BS, indicating that the emergence of the PMOC is constrained by the freshwater inflow through the BS, which hinders its destabilization through enhancing ocean stratification. However, the closure of the BS itself could not explain how the sinking motion is maintained in the North Pacific. Here we found that various atmospheric and oceanic processes are involved to sustain the active PMOC. First, an atmospheric teleconnection associated with the collapsed AMOC encouraged the evaporation in the sinking region, causing buoyancy loss at the surface of the North Pacific. Second, the strengthened subpolar gyre transported saltier water northward, enhancing dense water formation. Finally, the vigorous upwelling in the Southern Ocean enabled a consistent mass supply to the sinking region, with the aid of enhanced westerlies.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Acknowledgments. This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2017R1A2A2A05069383, NRF-2018R1A5A1024958). H.-J. Kim was supported by the Hyundai Motor Chung Mong-Koo Foundation. The authors also appreciate S.-Y. Jun, D. M. Roche, and A. Timmermann for help with the model setup.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atmospheric Science