Abyssal ocean warming and salinification after weddell polynyas in the GFDL CM2G coupled climate model

Hannah Zanowski, Robert Hallberg, Jorge Louis Sarmiento

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The role of Weddell Sea polynyas in establishing deep-ocean properties is explored in the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory's (GFDL) coupled climate model CM2G. Using statistical composite analysis of over 30 polynya events that occur in a 2000-yr-long preindustrial control run, the temperature, salinity, and water mass changes associated with the composite event are quantified. For the time period following the composite polynya cessation, termed the "recovery," warming between 0.002° and 0.019°C decade-1 occurs below 4200 m in the Southern Ocean basins. Temperature and salinity changes are strongest in the Southern Ocean and the South Atlantic near the polynya formation region. Comparison of the model results with abyssal temperature observations reveals that the 1970s Weddell Polynya recovery could account for 10% ± 8% of the recent warming in the abyssal Southern Ocean. For individual Southern Ocean basins, this percentage is as little as 6% ± 11% or as much as 34% ± 13%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2755-2772
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography


  • Abyssal circulation
  • Advection
  • Atm/Ocean Structure/ Phenomena
  • Bottom currents/bottom water
  • Circulation/ Dynamics
  • Climate models
  • Geographic location/entity
  • Models and modeling
  • Southern Ocean


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