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The ocean’s role in the Climate of the North Atlantic Region

Project Description

Project Rationale:
The North Atlantic Ocean undergoes multidecadal variations in sea-surface temperature (SST) (Kushnir, 1994) with major impacts on the weather and climate of adjacent land regions, a phenomenon known as Atlantic Multidecadal Variability (AMV). It is therefore important to establish the physical mechanisms governing AMV and to determine whether AMV, and hence regional climate is predictable on decadal timescales. Although there is little consensus on the mechanism, there is evidence that an important part is played by the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC),a system of warm northward surface currents and cold southwards deep currents that transports heat poleward.

Moat et al., 2019 developed a simple approach to relate the three key variables of SST, ocean heat content (OHC) and ocean-atmosphere heat exchange in order to understand the drivers of AMV in a state-of-the-art climate model, showing that ocean-atmosphere exchanges in the western subpolar North Atlantic are important in initiating large AMV excursions, and the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is important for their subsequent evolution.

In this project we aim to apply the diagnostic approach of Moat et al. 2019 to an ensemble of the latest climate model simulations and to observations to understand the mechanisms linking AMOC, OHC and AMV.

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


Kushnir, Y., 1994: Interdecadal variations in North Atlantic sea surface temperature and associated atmospheric conditions. J. Climate, 7, 141–157.
Moat, B. I.; Sinha, B.; Josey, S. A.; Robson, J.; Ortega, P.; Sévellec, F.; Holliday, N. P.; McCarthy, G. D.; New, A. L.; Hirschi, J. J.-M., 2019: Insights into decadal North Atlantic sea surface temperature and ocean heat content variability from an eddy-permitting coupled climate model. Journal of Climate, 32, 6137-6161.
McCarthy, Gerard D.; Haigh, Ivan D.; Hirschi, Joël J.-M.; Grist, Jeremy P.; Smeed, David A. 2015: Ocean impact on decadal Atlantic climate variability revealed by sea-level observations. Nature, 521, 508-510.

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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