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Journal of Physical Oceanography








Numerical simulations of the Atlantic Ocean during the period 1950 to 1989, using a sigma coordinate, free surface numerical model, show long-term variabilities in the upper ocean subtropical gyre similar to those obtained from observations. The simulations show how westward propagating planetary waves, originated in the eastern North Atlantic, affect interdecadal variabilities of ocean properties such as the Bermuda sea level, the Gulf Stream position and strength, and subsurface temperature anomalies in the western North Atlantic. Special attention is given to the dramatic sea level drop at Bermuda in the early 1970s, which is accompanied by cooling of subsurface layers in the western North Atlantic and a northward shift and weakening of the Gulf Stream. Following these events, between 1970 and 1980, the cold temperature anomalies in the upper layers of the western North Atlantic slowly propagated eastward and downward; the strongest propagating signal in the model is found at 200-m depth, suggesting that advection of anomalies downstream by the Gulf Stream current and changes in winter mixing are involved. Significant correlations were found between the sea level anomalies at Bermuda and sea level anomalies in the eastern North Atlantic up to eight years earlier. Sensitivity experiments with different atmospheric forcing fields are used to study the ocean response to observed sea surface temperature and wind stress anomalies. It is shown that on decadal timescales, the ocean model responds in a linear fashion to the combined effect of SST and wind stress anomalies, a fact that might be exploited in future climate prediction studies.

Original Publication Citation

Ezer, T. (1999). Decadal variabilities of the upper layers of the subtropical North Atlantic: An ocean model study. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 29(12), 3111-3124. doi: 0.1175/1520-0485(1999)0292.0.CO;2


0000-0002-2018-6071 (Ezer)


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