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Ocean Variability and Climate

  • Room 112, O&M Building (map)


The ocean has intrinsic variability arising from hydrodynamic instabilities of the time mean circulation, analogous to weather systems in the atmosphere. However, the ocean models typically used in climate assessments are too coarse and viscous to resolve these instability mechanisms, and this variability is strongly suppressed or entirely absent. Over the last two decades there has been tremendous progress in parameterizing the integrated effects of ocean eddies on the mean circulation, but the contributions to climate variability remain unrepresented. Recent pioneering integrations with high-resolution coupled climate models and the emergence of high-resolution global remote sensing observations allow us to begin to identify the geographical regions, space scales, and time scales at which the ocean may contribute to climate variability.