The Southern hemisphere westerlies in a warming world: Propping open the door to the deep ocean

Joellen L. Russell, Keith W. Dixon, Anand Gnanadesikan, Ronald J. Stouffer, J. R. Toggweiler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

177 Scopus citations


A coupled climate model with poleward-intensified westerly winds simulates significantly higher storage of heat and anthropogenic carbon dioxide by the Southern Ocean in the future when compared with the storage in a model with initially weaker, equatorward-biased westerlies. This difference results from the larger outcrop area of the dense waters around Antarctica and more vigorous divergence, which remains robust even as rising atmospheric greenhouse gas levels induce warming that reduces the density of surface waters in the Southern Ocean. These results imply that the impact of warming on the stratification of the global ocean may be reduced by the poleward intensification of the westerlies, allowing the ocean to remove additional heat and anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6382-6390
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 15 2006


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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