North Atlantic/Arctic Climate Initiative


Ocean and Climate Change Institute

Our ability to predict climate changes is limited by our inadequate understanding of how ocean waters circulate and mix. Despite their importance to the climate system, the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans are poorly monitored. Thus, oceanographers have had limited ability to observe key, complex processes that drive ocean circulation and influence global climate.

Lack of knowledge about complex ocean processes limits the ability of coupled ocean-atmosphere models to simulate and predict climate dynamics. Models will become more accurate with enhanced efforts to measure and understand oceanic processes that drive the mixing and movement of water masses within the oceans. In the North Atlantic/ Arctic Climate Initiative the OCCI sponsors studies to explore processes that:

  1. create and maintain the Arctic halocline
  2. control how waters sink and mix in subpolar ocean basins to form the Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC) and
  3. affect the circulation of waters between the northern and tropical Atlantic, south via the DWBC and north via the surface Gulf Stream.

The OCCI, in coordination with other planned observing systems, is supporting WHOI expertise in building, deploying, and using ocean-sensing technology to develop a large-scale, long-term observing system to study North Atlantic circulation and its interactions with the Arctic Ocean and the atmosphere. Through the following projects we have and are continuing to measure and monitor critical processes that affect ocean circulation and dynamics and their impact on climate.