Heuzé (2021) Antarctic Bottom Water and North Atlantic Deep Water in CMIP6 models

C. Heuzé (2021) Antarctic Bottom Water and North Atlantic Deep Water in CMIP6 models, Ocean Sci., doi:10.5194/os-17-59-2021, vol 17, pp 59-90.

CMIP5 models were rather biased when it came to their deep and bottom water properties, formation, and transports (see my own research [1],[2],[4],[10] and [17]). Are the new CMIP6 models better? I looked at 35 CMIP6 models, for the last 30 years of their historical run (1985-2014), both in the Southern Ocean and the North Atlantic. And as usual, the performance of the models depends on what you are interested in:

  • More models seem to successfully, realistically produce Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) via shelf overflow.
  • Yet, most CMIP6 models still have unrealistically large areas with open ocean deep convection, both in the Southern Ocean and in the North Atlantic. “Too deep, too often, over too large an area” remains the best description for CMIP6 models.
  • Bottom property biases have notably decreased. The most biased model in particular, INM-CM5, is in particular much better than its predecessor INM-CM4. The most accurate models are those from the CESM2 family, which feature an overflow parameterisation.
  • The link between deep water formation and bottom properties depends on the region. In the Southern Ocean, more deep convection = more biased bottom waters; in the North Atlantic, less biased.
  • Most models have a warm bias, which may be a result of the reference we chose to compare them to rather (WOA2018).
  • Regarding their transport, the AMOC is within the observational range for most CMIP6 models, which is a notable improvement since CMIP5. Southern MOC observations still are too few, but most CMIP6 models now lie within their range.
  • In the Atlantic, the spread of the water masses in CMIP6 models is controlled by the strength of the MOCs: the stronger the AMOC, the further south we detect NADW and the least AABW can spread northward.
  • In the Indian and Pacific Ocean, the northward spread of AABW is not linked to the MOC but to the properties, in particular the salinity gradient in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current: the weaker the gradient to overcome, the further the AABW spread.

I encourage you to check the performances of your favourite model in the many tables of the paper!

The INM model still is way too salty, but no longer needs its own colour bar. Black contours indicate a maximum MLD deeper than 2000 m (from supp. fig. A2, Heuzé 2021)

Download the full-text here.

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