Water mass transformation (WMT) in the North Atlantic plays a key role in driving the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and its variability. Here, we analyze subpolar North Atlantic WMT in high‐ and low‐resolution versions of the Community Earth System Model version 1 (CESM1) and investigate whether differences in resolution and climatological WMT impact low‐frequency AMOC variability and the atmospheric response to this variability. We find that high‐resolution simulations reproduce the WMT found in a reanalysis‐forced high‐resolution ocean simulation more accurately than low‐resolution simulations. We also find that the low‐resolution simulations, including one forced with the same atmospheric reanalysis data, have larger biases in surface heat fluxes, sea‐surface temperatures, and salinities compared to the high‐resolution simulations. Despite these major climatological differences, the mechanisms of low‐frequency AMOC variability are similar in the high‐ and low‐resolution versions of CESM1. The Labrador Sea WMT plays a major role in driving AMOC variability, and a similar North Atlantic Oscillation‐like sea‐level pressure pattern leads AMOC changes. However, the high‐resolution simulation shows a pronounced atmospheric response to the AMOC variability not found in the low‐resolution version. The consistent role of Labrador Sea WMT in low‐frequency AMOC variability across high‐ and low‐resolution coupled simulations, including a simulation which accurately reproduces the WMT found in an atmospheric‐reanalysis‐forced high‐resolution ocean simulation, suggests that the mechanisms may be similar in nature.
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Climate
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- 1 to 68
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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