University of Tasmania
SnowETAL_2016JClim.pdf (3.7 MB)

Sensitivity of Antarctic bottom water to changes in surface buoyancy fluxes

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posted on 2023-05-18, 19:58 authored by Snow, K, Hogg, AMcC, Sloyan, BM, Stephanie Downes

The influence of freshwater and heat flux changes on Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) properties are investigated within a realistic bathymetry coupled ocean–ice sector model of the Atlantic Ocean. The model simulations are conducted at eddy-permitting resolution where dense shelf water production dominates over open ocean convection in forming AABW. Freshwater and heat flux perturbations are applied independently and have contradictory surface responses, with increased upper-ocean temperature and reduced ice formation under heating and the opposite under increased freshwater fluxes. AABW transport into the abyssal ocean reduces under both flux changes, with the reduction in transport being proportional to the net buoyancy flux anomaly south of 60°S.

Through inclusion of shelf-sourced AABW, a process absent from most current generation climate models, cooling and freshening of dense source water is facilitated via reduced on-shelf/off-shelf exchange flow. Such cooling is propagated to the abyssal ocean, while compensating warming in the deep ocean under heating introduces a decadal-scale variability of the abyssal water masses. This study emphasizes the fundamental role buoyancy plays in controlling AABW, as well as the importance of the inclusion of shelf-sourced AABW within climate models in order to attain the complete spectrum of possible climate change responses.


Publication title

Journal of Climate








Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Amer Meteorological Soc

Place of publication

45 Beacon St, Boston, USA, Ma, 02108-3693

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Copyright 2016 American Meteorological Society (AMS). Permission to use figures, tables, and brief excerpts from this work in scientific and educational works is hereby granted provided that the source is acknowledged. Any use of material in this work that is determined to be “fair use” under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act September 2010 Page 2 or that satisfies the conditions specified in Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 USC §108, as revised by P.L. 94-553) does not require the AMS’s permission. Republication, systematic reproduction, posting in electronic form, such as on a web site or in a searchable database, or other uses of this material, except as exempted by the above statement, requires written permission or a license from the AMS. Additional details are provided in the AMS Copyright Policy, available on the AMS Web site located at ( or from the AMS at 617-227-2425 or

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Climate variability (excl. social impacts)

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