• Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation;
  • ocean reanalysis;
  • heat transports

[1] A reconstruction of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) for the period 1959–2006 has been derived from the ECMWF operational ocean reanalysis. The reconstruction shows a wide range of time-variability, including a downward trend. At 26N, both the MOC intensity and changes in its vertical structure are in good agreement with previous estimates based on trans-Atlantic surveys. At 50N, the MOC and strength of the subpolar gyre are correlated at interannual time scales, but show opposite secular trends. Heat transport variability is highly correlated with the MOC but shows a smaller trend due to the warming of the upper ocean, which partially compensates for the weakening of the circulation. Results from sensitivity experiments show that although the time-varying upper boundary forcing provides useful MOC information, the sequential assimilation of ocean data further improves the MOC estimation by increasing both the mean and the time variability.