Geophysical Research Letters

On the role of inter-basin surface salinity contrasts in global ocean circulation

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Abstract

[1] The role of sea surface salinity (SSS) contrasts in maintaining vigorous global ocean thermohaline circulation (TOC) is revisited. Relative importance of different generalizations of sea surface conditions in climate studies is explored. Ocean-wide inter-basin SSS contrasts serve as the major controlling element in global TOC. These contrasts are shown to be at least as important as high-latitudinal freshwater impacts. It is also shown that intra-basin longitudinal distribution of sea surface salinity, as well as intra- and inter-basin longitudinal distribution of sea surface temperature, is not crucial to conveyor functionality if only inter-basin contrasts in sea surface salinity are retained. This is especially important for paleoclimate and future climate simulations.

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