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Basin bifurcations, oscillatory instability and rate-induced thresholds for Atlantic meridional overturning circulation in a global oceanic box model

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 06:46 authored by Alkhayuon, H, Ashwin, P, Jackson, LC, Courtney QuinnCourtney Quinn, Wood, RA
The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) transports substantial amounts of heat into the North Atlantic sector, and hence is of very high importance in regional climate projections. The AMOC has been observed to show multi-stability across a range of models of different complexity. The simplest models find a bifurcation associated with the AMOC ‘on’ state losing stability that is a saddle node. Here, we study a physically derived global oceanic model of Wood et al. with five boxes, that is calibrated to runs of the FAMOUS coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model. We find the loss of stability of the ‘on’ state is due to a subcritical Hopf for parameters from both pre-industrial and doubled CO2 atmospheres. This loss of stability via subcritical Hopf bifurcation has important consequences for the behaviour of the basin of attraction close to bifurcation. We consider various time-dependent profiles of freshwater forcing to the system, and find that rate-induced thresholds for tipping can appear, even for perturbations that do not cross the bifurcation. Understanding how such state transitions occur is important in determining allowable safe climate change mitigation pathways to avoid collapse of the AMOC.


Publication title

Proceedings of the Royal Society A





Article number







School of Natural Sciences


Royal Soc London

Place of publication

6 Carlton House Terrace, London, England, Sw1Y 5Ag

Rights statement

2019 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Climate variability (excl. social impacts); Expanding knowledge in the mathematical sciences