Why does global warming weaken the Gulf Stream but intensify the Kuroshio?

TitleWhy does global warming weaken the Gulf Stream but intensify the Kuroshio?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsChen C.L, Wang G.H, Xie SP, Liu W
Date Published2019/11
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0894-8755
Accession NumberWOS:000488786600005
Keywordsatlantic-ocean; circulation; climate; east china sea; General circulation models; gyre circulation; interannual variability; Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences; model; North Atlantic Ocean; north pacific; North Pacific Ocean; ocean; Ocean circulation; sea-level rise; trends; western boundary currents

The Kuroshio and Gulf Stream, the subtropical western boundary currents of the North Pacific and North Atlantic, play important roles in meridional heat transport and ocean-atmosphere interaction processes. Using a multimodel ensemble of future projections, we show that a warmer climate intensifies the upper-layer Kuroshio, in contrast to the previously documented slowdown of the Gulf Stream. Our ocean general circulation model experiments show that the sea surface warming, not the wind change, is the dominant forcing that causes the upper-layer Kuroshio to intensify in a warming climate. Forced by the sea surface warming, ocean subduction and advection processes result in a stronger warming to the east of the Kuroshio than to the west, which increases the isopycnal slope across the Kuroshio, and hence intensifies the Kuroshio. In the North Atlantic, the Gulf Stream slows down as part of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) response to surface salinity decrease in the high latitudes under global warming. The distinct responses of the Gulf Stream and Kuroshio to climate warming are accompanied by different regional patterns of sea level rise. While the sea level rise accelerates along the northeastern U.S. coast as the AMOC weakens, it remains close to the global mean rate along the East Asian coast as the intensifying Kuroshio is associated with the enhanced sea level rise offshore in the North Pacific subtropical gyre.

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