Current State and Future Fate of the Ocean Circulation as viewed by Experts

Dr. Anders Levermann
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research


Date: Thursday, May 12, 2005

Time: 2:30 p.m.

Location: Clark 271, Quissett Campus


As a part of an Integrated Assessment project on changes in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), we conducted an expert elicitation with 12 participating researchers. The elicitation aimed at examining the uncertainty within the oceanographic research community about the physical processes that determine the strength of the AMOC as well as their future evolution in a changing climate. The experts were asked on their assessment of the possible physical consequences of a reduction or complete shutdown of the AMOC. The results include the experts' subjective probability distributions about the future evolution of the AMOC for different global warming scenarios. We try to clarify the experts' underlying physical reasoning for their assessments and discuss the main differences between researchers. The interviews further contained discussions on (1) a hypothetical future research program to reduce uncertainty in our understanding of the AMOC and (2) the possibility of an early warning system for AMOC shutdown which will be presented.

*Co-sponsored by PO and OCCI