Journal article Open Access

Closure of the meridional overturning circulation through Southern Ocean upwelling

Marshall, John; Speer, Kevin

The meridional overturning circulation of the ocean plays a central role in climate and climate variability by storing and transporting heat, fresh water and carbon around the globe. Historically, the focus of research has been on the North Atlantic Basin, a primary site where water sinks from the surface to depth, triggered by loss of heat, and therefore buoyancy, to the atmosphere. A key part of the overturning puzzle, however, is the return path from the interior ocean to the surface through upwelling in the Southern Ocean. This return path is largely driven by winds. It has become clear over the past few years that the importance of Southern Ocean upwelling for our understanding of climate rivals that of North Atlantic downwelling, because it controls the rate at which ocean reservoirs of heat and carbon communicate with the surface.
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