Assessing the predictability of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and associated fingerprints



[1] The North Atlantic is among the few places where decadal climate variations are considered potentially predictable. The physical mechanisms of the decadal variability are hypothesized to be associated with fluctuations of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). Perfect model predictability experiments using the GFDL CM2.1 climate model are analyzed to investigate the potential predictability of the AMOC. Results indicate that the AMOC is predictable up to 20 years. We further connect AMOC predictability to readily observable fields. We show that modeled surface and subsurface signatures of AMOC variations defined by characteristic patterns of sea surface height, subsurface temperature, and upper ocean heat content anomalies, have a potential predictability similar to the AMOC's. Since we have longer observational records for these quantities than for direct measurements of the AMOC, our study highlights a potentially new promising method for monitoring AMOC variations, and hence assessing the predictability of the real climate system.