Recent Shifts of Meridional Freshwater Transfer in the Oceans: An Agent for Abrupt Climate Change
OCCI Project Funded: 2002
The oceans serve both as a global reservoir and agent of redistribution
for several important constituents of Earth's climate system: e.g.,
heat, CO2 and water. We focus here on ocean storage
and transport of salt and freshwaterelements which are fundamental
to the hydrologic cycle and to the North Atlantic overturning circulation.
In the tropics and subtropics, evaporative losses of freshwater
exceed precipitation causing the upper ocean to become more saline.
At higher latitudes, precipitation exceeds evaporation and upper
ocean salinities are considerably lower compared to the subtropics.
The ocean's poleward transport of salinity and equatorward return
of freshwater act to stabilize the atmospheric hydrologic pathway.
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is dedicated to research and education to advance understanding of the ocean and its interaction with the Earth system, and to communicating this understanding for the benefit of society. Learn more »