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TAO data support the existence of large high frequency variations in cross-equatorial overturning circulation
  • Lois Elizabeth Baker,
  • Mike Bell,
  • Adam Tobias Blaker
Lois Elizabeth Baker
Imperial College London

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Mike Bell
Met Office
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Adam Tobias Blaker
National Oceanography Centre
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Large amplitude oscillations in the meridional overturning circulation (MOC) have been found near the equator in all major ocean basins in the NEMO ocean general circulation model. With periods of 3-15 days and amplitudes of ~±100 Sv in the Pacific, these oscillations have been shown to correspond to zonally integrated equatorially trapped waves forced by winds within 10° N/S of the equator. Observations of dynamic height from the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) mooring array in the equatorial Pacific also exhibit spectral peaks consistent with the dispersion relation for equatorially trapped waves. Here, we revisit the TAO observations to confirm that the amplitude of the oscillations is consistent with the simulations, supporting the modelled large amplitude MOC oscillations. We also show that the zonal structure of the frequency spectrum in both observations and simulations is predicted by changes in the baroclinic wave speed with variation in stratification across the ocean basin.
28 Jan 2022Published in Geophysical Research Letters volume 49 issue 2. 10.1029/2021GL096879