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Bifurcations of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation in response to changes in the hydrological cycle

Nature volume 378, pages 145149 (09 November 1995) | Download Citation

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Abstract

The sensitivity of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation to the input of fresh water is studied using a global ocean circulation model coupled to a simplified model atmosphere. Owing to the nonlinearity of the system, moderate changes in freshwater input can induce transitions between different equilibrium states, leading to substantial changes in regional climate. As even local changes in freshwater flux are capable of triggering convective instability, quite small perturbations to the present hydrological cycle may lead to temperature changes of several degrees on timescales of only a few years.

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  1. Institut für Meereskunde, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany

    • Stefan Rahmstorf

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https://doi.org/10.1038/378145a0

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