An outsized role for the Labrador Sea in the multidecadal variability of the Atlantic overturning circulation. Academic Article uri icon


  • Climate models are essential tools for investigating intrinsic North Atlantic variability related to variations in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), but recent observations have called into question the fidelity of models that emphasize the importance of Labrador Sea processes. A multicentury preindustrial climate simulation that resolves ocean mesoscale eddies has a realistic representation of key observed subpolar Atlantic phenomena, including the dominance of density-space overturning in the eastern subpolar gyre, and thus provides uniquely credible context for interpreting short observational records. Despite weak mean surface diapycnal transformation in the Labrador Sea, multidecadal AMOC variability can be traced to anomalous production of dense Labrador Sea Water with buoyancy forcing in the western subpolar gyre playing a substantial driving role.

published proceedings

  • Sci Adv

altmetric score

  • 8.15

author list (cited authors)

  • Yeager, S., Castruccio, F., Chang, P., Danabasoglu, G., Maroon, E., Small, J., ... Zhang, S.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Yeager, Stephen||Castruccio, Fred||Chang, Ping||Danabasoglu, Gokhan||Maroon, Elizabeth||Small, Justin||Wang, Hong||Wu, Lixin||Zhang, Shaoqing

publication date

  • October 2021