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Climate change and variability on the Southern Ocean and Antarctica

PI: Nathan Bindoff
Institution: University of Tasmania
Additional Investigators: Marsland, Trull, Heil, Hyland, Roberts, Matear, Warner, Constable, Budd, Dupre, Marray, Helm
The Southern Ocean and Antarctica are key components of the global climate system. Some models (eg HADCM3) have shown that the Southern Ocean has a relatively high signal to noise ratio for the detection of decadal and multi-decadal variations of the climate system (Banks and Woods, 2001). Observational results in the Southern Hemisphere water masses has also shown difference patterns in key water masses such as SAMW, AAIW and CDW (Aoki et al 2005, Bindoff and McDougall, 2000, Wong et al, 2001, Johnson and Orsi 1997) broadly consistent with climate change scenarios. These observed patterns compare well with HadCM3 simulations (Banks and Bindoff, 2003).

Surface freshwater fluxes are expected to increase in future climates over the high latitude Southern Ocean and Antarctica. These freshwater fluxes changes will change the current rates of accumulation over Antarctic and also also likely to affect the meridional overturning circulation in Antarctica (Bi et al 2000, Bi et al 2002).

We plan to undertake an analysis of the AR4 model runs with a focus on the Southern Hemisphere oceans, sea-ice and Antarctic Ice Sheet. We are interested in diagnosing the coherent changes between the control experiments future scenarios of this multi-model data set for:

* variations and changes in water-mass production of key Southern Ocean water masses (SAMW, AAIW, AABW, CDW and NADW)

* variations and changes in the over-turning circulation in the Southern Hemisphere

* variations and changes in the distribution of the Sea-Ice (its production, thickness variations and composition, eg amount of snow).

* accumulation of ice over the Antarctic continent

* validation and comparison with observed differences of water masses within the ocean for the twentieth century

* and if possible, using offline methods estimates of future scenarios of alkalinity and impacts.

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