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Response of atmospheric pCO2 to a strong AMOC weakening under climate change
  • Amber Adore Boot,
  • Anna S. von der Heydt,
  • Henk A. Dijkstra
Amber Adore Boot
Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Anna S. von der Heydt
Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht, Utrecht University
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Henk A. Dijkstra
Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht
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The Earth System is warming due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions which increases the risk of passing a tipping point in the Earth System, such as a collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). An AMOC weakening can have large climate impacts which influences the marine and terrestrial carbon cycle and hence atmospheric pCO2. However, the sign and mechanism of this response are subject to uncertainty. Here, we use a state-of-the-art Earth System Model, the Community Earth System Model v2 (CESM2), to study the atmospheric pCO2 response to an AMOC weakening under low (SSP1-2.6) and high (SSP5-8.5) emission scenarios. A freshwater flux anomaly in the North Atlantic strongly weakens the AMOC, and we simulate a weak positive pCO2 response of 0.45 and 1.3 ppm increase per AMOC decrease in Sv for SSP1-2.6 and SSP5-8.5, respectively. For SSP1-2.6 this response is driven by both the oceanic and terrestrial carbon cycles, whereas in SSP5-8.5 it is solely the ocean that drives the response. However, the spatial patterns of both the climate and carbon cycle response are similar in both emission scenarios over the course of the simulation period (2015-2100), showing that the response pattern is not dependent on cumulative CO2 emissions up to 2100. Though the global atmospheric pCO2 response might be small, locally large changes in both the carbon cycle and the climate system occur due to the AMOC weakening, which can have large detrimental effects on ecosystems and society.
26 Sep 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
30 Sep 2023Published in ESS Open Archive