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South Asian monsoon response to weakening of Atlantic meridional overturning circulation in a warming climate

Sandeep, N., Swapna, P., Krishnan, R., Farneti, R., Prajeesh, A. G., Ayantika, D. C., Manmeet, S.
Climate dynamics 2020 v.54 no.7-8 pp. 3507-3524
Earth system science, atmospheric circulation, carbon dioxide, climate, climate models, freshwater, greenhouse gas emissions, heat transfer, monsoon season, temperature
Observational records and climate model projections reveal a considerable decline in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). Changes in the AMOC can have a significant impact on the global climate. Sustained warming due to increased greenhouse gas emissions is projected to weaken the AMOC, which in turn can lead to changes in the location of Inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ), oceanic and atmospheric large-scale circulation, tropical precipitation and regional monsoons. Using proxy records, observations and CMIP6 simulations of IITM Earth System Model (IITM-ESM), we investigate the changes in the AMOC and associated changes in the large-scale circulation and precipitation patterns over the South Asian monsoon region. Transient CO₂ simulation and additional model sensitivity experiments with realistic surface heat and freshwater perturbation anomalies under the experimental protocol of Flux Anomaly Forcing Model Intercomparison Project (FAFMIP) performed with IITM-ESM reveal a decline in the strength of AMOC. The weakening of AMOC is associated with enhanced heat and freshwater forcing in the North Atlantic resulting in the reduction of northward oceanic heat transport and an enhanced northward atmospheric heat transport. Changes in AMOC lead to weakening of large-scale north–south temperature gradient and regional land-sea thermal gradient, which in turn weaken the regional Hadley circulation and, monsoon circulation over the South Asian region. Both the FAFMIP and transient CO₂ experiments reveal consistent results of weakening South Asian Monsoon circulation with a decline of AMOC, while precipitation exhibits contrasting responses as precipitation changes are dominated by the thermodynamic response. The suite of observational and numerical analysis provides a mechanistic hypothesis for the weakening of South Asian monsoon circulation concomitant with a weakening of AMOC in a warming climate.