A model intercomparison of changes in the Atlantic thermohaline circulation in response to increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration

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Abstract

[1] As part of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, integrations with a common design have been undertaken with eleven different climate models to compare the response of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation (THC) to time-dependent climate change caused by increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration. Over 140 years, during which the CO2 concentration quadruples, the circulation strength declines gradually in all models, by between 10 and 50%. No model shows a rapid or complete collapse, despite the fairly rapid increase and high final concentration of CO2. The models having the strongest overturning in the control climate tend to show the largest THC reductions. In all models, the THC weakening is caused more by changes in surface heat flux than by changes in surface water flux. No model shows a cooling anywhere, because the greenhouse warming is dominant.

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