Publications

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2011
Keeling, RF, Visbeck M.  2011.  On the linkage between Antarctic surface water stratification and global deep-water temperature. Journal of Climate. 24:3545-3557.   10.1175/2011jcli3642.1   AbstractWebsite

The suggestion is advanced that the remarkably low static stability of Antarctic surface waters may arise from a feedback loop involving global deep-water temperatures. If deep-water temperatures are too warm, this promotes Antarctic convection, thereby strengthening the inflow of Antarctic Bottom Water into the ocean interior and cooling the deep ocean. If deep waters are too cold, this promotes Antarctic stratification allowing the deep ocean to warm because of the input of North Atlantic Deep Water. A steady-state deep-water temperature is achieved such that the Antarctic surface can barely undergo convection. A two-box model is used to illustrate this feedback loop in its simplest expression and to develop basic concepts, such as the bounds on the operation of this loop. The model illustrates the possible dominating influence of Antarctic upwelling rate and Antarctic freshwater balance on global deep-water temperatures.

2005
Keeling, RF, Visbeck M.  2005.  Northern ice discharges and Antarctic warming: could ocean eddies provide the link? Quaternary Science Reviews. 24:1809-1820.   10.1016/j.quascirev.2005.04.005   AbstractWebsite

A mechanism is advanced for explaining the Antarctic warm events from 90 to 30ka BP which involves meltwater-induced changes in the salinity gradient across the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) and consequent changes in the poleward heat transport by ocean eddies. Based on simple linear scale analysis, the mechanism is shown to yield warming in the Antarctic interior of roughly the magnitude seen in Antarctic ice-core records (similar to 2 degrees C) in response to ice discharges into the North Atlantic. Consistent with observations, the mechanism produces gradual Antarctic warming and cooling, as dictated by the time required for salinity anomalies to build up and dissipate across the ACC. The mechanism also allows the onset of warming or cooling to be tied to changes in Atlantic overturning, which is relevant here, not for influencing ocean heat transport directly, but for influencing the routing of meltwater from the North Atlantic into the Southern Ocean. The ideas presented here highlight the possibility that eddy processes in the ocean may play a first-order role in aspects of climate variability on millennial time scales. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

2002
Keeling, RF.  2002.  On the freshwater forcing of the thermohaline circulation in the limit of low diapycnal mixing. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 107   10.1029/2000jc000685   AbstractWebsite

[1] A conjecture is offered on the stability characteristics of the thermohaline circulation in the limit of very low diapycnal mixing. In this limit the action of the winds on the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) can sustain a deep overturning pattern known as the "reconfigured conveyor,'' consisting of upwelling around Antarctica and sinking in the North Atlantic, as shown by the work of Toggweiler and others. It is conjectured that in this limit, northern sinking should be stabilized in an "on'' state because of the penetration of freshwater into the ocean interior via isopycnal layers that outcrop to the surface within and south of the ACC. This conjecture is supported by qualitative arguments and by a hydraulic model for the reconfigured conveyor. The hydraulic model takes into account the freshwater budgets of the Atlantic basin, Antarctic surface waters, and the remaining oceans. It also takes into account, in simple terms, wind-driven Antarctic upwelling, eddy transports and mixing within the ACC, changes in pycnocline depth, the role of temperature forcing, and advective feedbacks on salinity. The hydraulic model suggests that multiple "on/off'' states of the reconfigured conveyor are possible but only if the deep waters that form in the Northern Hemisphere are fresher than the intermediate waters that form in the vicinity of the ACC in the Southern Hemisphere, a condition that is not satisfied in the modern ocean.

1998
Stephens, BB, Keeling RF, Heimann M, Six KD, Murnane R, Caldeira K.  1998.  Testing global ocean carbon cycle models using measurements of atmospheric O2 and CO2 concentration. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 12:213-230.   10.1029/97gb03500   AbstractWebsite

We present a method for testing the performance of global ocean carbon cycle models using measurements of atmospheric O-2 and CO2 concentration. We combine these measurements to define a tracer, atmospheric potential oxygen (APO approximate to O-2 + CO2), which is conservative with respect to terrestrial photosynthesis and respiration. We then compare observations of APO to the simulations of an atmospheric transport model which uses ocean-model air-sea fluxes and fossil fuel combustion estimates as lower boundary conditions. We present observations of the annual-average concentrations of CO2, O-2, and APO at 10 stations in a north-south transect. The observations of APO show a significant interhemispheric gradient decreasing towards the north. We use air-sea CO2, O-2, and N-2 fluxes from the Princeton ocean biogeochemistry model, the Hamburg model of the ocean carbon cycle, and the Lawrence Livermore ocean biogeochemistry model to drive the TM2 atmospheric transport model. The latitudinal variations in annual-average APO predicted by the combined models are distinctly different from the observations. All three models significantly underestimate the interhemispheric difference in APO, suggesting that they underestimate the net southward transport of the sum of O-2 and CO2 in the oceans. Uncertainties in the model-observation comparisons include uncertainties associated with the atmospheric measurements, the atmospheric transport model, and the physical and biological components of the ocean models. Potential deficiencies in the physical components of the ocean models, which have previously been suggested as causes for anomalously large heat fluxes out of the Southern Ocean, may contribute to the discrepancies with the APO observations. These deficiencies include the inadequate parameterization of subgrid-scale isopycnal eddy mixing, a lack of subgrid-scale vertical convection, too much Antarctic sea-ice formation, and an overestimation of vertical diffusivities in the main thermocline.