Geophysical Research Letters

Stability of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation in the Last Glacial Maximum climate



[1] The stability of the glacial Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation is examined using a coupled model of intermediate complexity. Two slightly different climatic states are generated. One has a southward overturning freshwater transport at the southern border of the Atlantic basin, the other a northward transport. Pulse experiments with varying magnitude always result in a collapsed circulation in case of a southward transport, while the overturning recovers in case of a northward transport. In the latter case recovery is due to a positive salinity-overturning feedback, which strengthens the remnant circulation cell that exists in the ‘collapsed’ state. This is amplified by advection by wind-driven currents and a southward ITCZ shift. The glacial circulation is more easily perturbed than the modern and restoring timescales are considerably longer, matching the duration of Heinrich events.