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Keywords:

  • AMOC;
  • MOC;
  • decadal variability;
  • meridional transports

[1] The meridional overturning circulation (MOC) represents the main mechanism for the oceanic northward heat transport in the Atlantic, and fluctuations of this circulation are believed to have major impacts on northern hemisphere climate. While numerical ocean and climate models and paleo-records show large variability in this circulation, the use of direct observations of the MOC for detecting climate-timescale changes has proven difficult so far. This report presents the first observational record of MOC measurements that is continuous and sufficiently long to exhibit decadal-scale changes, here a decrease by 20% over the observational period (Jan. 2000–June 2009) and large interannual changes in the flow and its vertical structure. Data are from a mooring array at 16°N (Meridional Overturning Variability Experiment, MOVE). The observed change agrees with the amplitude of multi-decadal natural fluctuations seen in numerical ocean and climate models. Knowledge of the existence and phasing of such internal cycles provides multi-decadal climate predictability. Recently, some numerical model simulations have produced results that show a weakening of the MOC since the 1990's and observational confirmation of this now is a high priority.