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Enhanced Climate Predictability involving the Subpolar gyre of the North Atlantic

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Subpolar gyre study for better climate models

The Atlantic subpolar gyre (SPG) is a circular system of ocean currents that plays a key role in climate variability over a timescale of tens to thousands of years. The SPG has great potential for improving much-needed climate predictions, but this requires a more detailed understanding of the phenomenon.

Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment

An EU-funded project called 'Enhanced climate predictability involving the subpolar gyre of the North Atlantic' (ECLIPS) provided a clearer picture of the SPG. Researchers investigated 19 climate models to reveal the mechanisms that drive the SPG and to develop an idealized mathematical model based on these principles. The primary research tools were numerical modelling and state-of-the-art statistical and physical analyses. The idealized model is capable of reproducing SPG variations as simulated by much more comprehensive models. It can also predict conditions under which multiple equilibria of the SPG can occur, increasing basic understanding and providing the opportunity to investigate abrupt changes in the SPG. In addition, interaction between the SPG and the atmosphere was studied within the context of climate events over the last 1000 years. A demonstration of the ECLIPS conceptual model was carried out to demonstrate its usefulness in describing past variations in the SPG. The model's value lies in its simplified but accurate understanding of the dynamics of the SPG. An improved understanding of the SPG and climate variability will also enable scientists to make better predictions of future impacts on human societies and economies in the region. The work conducted by ECLIPS can form the basis for future studies, such as on concurrent climate change and natural variations of the North Atlantic climate. It has also led to five scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals.


Subpolar gyre, climate models, climate predictability, North Atlantic

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