Mixed boundary conditions in ocean general circulation models and their influence on the stability of the model's conveyor belt


  • Uwe Mikolajewicz,

  • Ernst Maier-Reimer


When driven under “mixed boundary conditions”, coarse resolution ocean general circulation models (OGCMs) generally show a high sensitivity of the present-day thermohaline circulation against perturbations. We will show that an alternative formulation of the boundary condition for temperature, a mixture of prescribed heat fluxes and additional restoring of the sea surface temperature to a climatological boundary temperature with a longer time constant, drastically alters the stability of the modes of the thermohaline circulation. The results from simulations with the Hamburg large-scale geostrophic OGCM indicate that the stability of the mode of the thermohaline circulation with formation of North Atlantic deepwater increases, if the damping of sea surface temperature anomalies is reduced, whereas the opposite is true for the mode without North Atlantic deep water formation. It turns out that the formulation of the temperature boundary condition also affects the variability of the model.