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Challenging theories on the latitudinal coherence of the AMOC

Project Description

Project Rationale:
The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) is a large-scale oceanic circulation comprised of currents that carry warm, shallow water northwards and return cold deep-water southwards. Variations in the strength of the AMOC have significant impact on the Earth’s climate system, in particular, it is crucial in maintaining the relatively mild winter climate of Northwest Europe.

The accepted paradigm of the AMOC is that it functions as a coherent flow across the Atlantic basin (e.g. changes observed in the AMOC at one latitude will also be observed at other latitudes), this is commonly referred to as meridional coherence. However recent studies (e.g. [1]) highlight discrepancies in the AMOC variability between latitudinal bands, suggesting that the AMOC may not be as meridionally coherent as we thought.

There is a current gap in our understanding of where the meridional coherence of the AMOC breaks down, what causes this, and what the implications are for the North Atlantic climate system. The primary objective of this project is thus to investigate the meridional coherence of the AMOC, and where and why it breaks down. This will lead to a better understanding of the influence of the North Atlantic on European climate.

Funding Notes

You can apply for fully-funded studentships (stipend and fees) from INSPIRE if you:
Are a UK or EU national.
Have no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.
Have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the project.

Please click View Website for more information on eligibilty and how to apply


[1] Frajka‐Williams, E., Lankhorst, M., Koelling, J., & Send, U. (2018). Coherent circulation changes in the Deep North Atlantic from 16 N and 26 N transport arrays. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 123(5), 3427-3443.

[2] Frajka‐Williams, E. (2015). Estimating the Atlantic overturning at 26º N using satellite altimetry and cable measurements. Geophysical Research Letters, 42(9), 3458-3464.

[3] Landerer, F. W., Wiese, D. N., Bentel, K., Boening, C., & Watkins, M. M. (2015). North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation variations from GRACE ocean bottom pressure anomalies. Geophysical Research Letters, 42(19), 8114-8121.

How good is research at University of Southampton in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 68.62

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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