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Keywords:

  • anthropogenically forced AMOC changes;
  • density space;
  • depth space

[1] Extensive modeling studies show that changes in the anthropogenic forcing due to increasing greenhouse gases might lead to a slowdown of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) in the 21st century, but the AMOC weakening estimated in most previous modeling studies is in depth space. Using a coupled ocean atmosphere model (GFDL CM2.1), this paper shows that in density space, the anthropogenically forced AMOC changes over the 21st century are intensified at northern high latitudes (nearly twice of those at lower latitudes) due to changes in the North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) formation. In contrast, anthropogenically forced AMOC changes are much smaller in depth space at the same northern high latitudes. Hence projecting AMOC changes in depth space would lead to a significant underestimation of AMOC changes associated with changes in the NADW formation. The result suggests that monitoring AMOC changes at northern high latitudes in density space might reveal much larger signals than those at lower latitudes. The simulated AMOC changes in density space under anthropogenic forcing can not be distinguished from that induced by natural AMOC variability for at least the first 20 years of the 21st century, although the signal can be detected over a much longer period.