A coarse resolution North Atlantic ocean circulation model: an intercomparison study with a paleoceanographic example
Abstract. Paleoreconstructions suggest that during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) the North Atlantic circulation was noticeably different from its present state. However, the glacial salt conveyor belt is believed to be similar to the present-day's conveyor, albeit weaker and shallower because of an increased freshwater flux in high-latitudes. We present here the investigation of the conveyor operation based on ocean circulation modelling using two numerical models in parallel. The GFDL primitive equation model and a planetary geostrophic model are employed to address the problem of the paleocirculation modelling in cases of uncertain and sparse data comprising the glacial surface boundary conditions. The role of different simplifications that may be used in the ocean climate studies, including the role of grid resolution, bottom topography, coast-line, etc., versus glacial-interglacial changes of the ocean surface climatology is considered. The LGM reverse conveyor gyre appeared to be the most noticeable feature of the glacial-to-interglacial alteration of the ocean circulation. The reversed upper-ocean conveyor, weaker and subducting 'normal' conveyor in the intermediate depths, and the change of the deep-ocean return flow route are robust signatures of the glacial North Atlantic climate. The results are found to be 'model-independent' and fairly insensitive to all factors other than the onset of the glacial surface conditions.