Remote Discovery in Earth's Fiercest Ocean
Floats deployed by oceanographers are giving us all ringside seats to the epic battle between the wind and the deep ocean around Antarctica which will determine the rate of global atmospheric warming over the next century. The poleward-shift and intensification of the Southern Hemisphere westerly winds has been shown to maintain the connection between the surface ocean and the atmosphere with the deep ocean even as the surface ocean warms. This “doorway” allows the vast deep ocean reservoir to play a significant role in the transient global climate response to increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases. Coupled climate and earth system models at low and high resolution all simulate poleward-shifted and intensified Southern Hemisphere surface westerly winds when subjected to an atmospheric carbon dioxide doubling. Comparisons of these simulations reveal how stratification, resolution and eddies affect the transient global climate response to increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases – and our collective fate.