Representation of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current in the CMIP5 climate models and future changes under warming scenarios


Corresponding author: A. J. S. Meijers, British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB30ET, UK. (


[1] The representation of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) in the fifth Coupled Models Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) is generally improved over CMIP3. The range of modeled transports in the historical (1976–2006) scenario is reduced (90–264 Sv) compared with CMIP3 (33–337 Sv) with a mean of 155 ± 51 Sv. The large intermodel range is associated with significant differences in the ACC density structure. The ACC position is accurately represented at most longitudes, with a small (1.27°) standard deviation in mean latitude. The westerly wind jet driving the ACC is biased too strong and too far north on average. Unlike CMIP3 there is no correlation between modeled ACC latitude and the position of the westerly wind jet. Under future climate forcing scenarios (2070–2099 mean) the modeled ACC transport changes by between −26 to +17 Sv and the ACC shifts polewards (equatorwards) in models where the transport increases (decreases). There is no significant correlation between the ACC position change and that of the westerly wind jet, which shifts polewards and strengthens. The subtropical gyres strengthen and expand southwards, while the change in subpolar gyre area varies between models. An increase in subpolar gyre area corresponds with a decreases in ACC transport and an equatorward shift in the ACC position, and vice versa for a contraction of the gyre area. There is a general decrease in density in the upper 1000 m, particularly equatorwards of the ACC core.