Causes of Climate Extremes-generating Ocean States

Lead PI: Benjamin C Bostick

Unit Affiliation: Ocean and Climate Physics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

April 2017 - March 2021
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: The project is centered on the analysis of the momentum and heat budgets of the upper oceans contained within three ocean reanalyses: the European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasts' Ocean Reanalysis (1958 to present), the consortium for Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean (Version 4, 1993 to present) and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory's Ensemble Climate Data Assimilation system (1960 to present). The contributions of surface fluxes, vertical mixing and dynamical ocean heat convergence by the mean flow and transient eddies will be evaluated for the extremes generating states using standard numerical procedures. Dynamical and mixing contributions will be related to changes in upper ocean heat content and to changes in currents and vertical motion which in turn will be related to wind stress forcing. Guided by a series of hypotheses, the causes of the extremes-generating ocean states will be determined to the extent allowed by data accuracy and sample size limitation. Long term trends in the ocean reanalyses and surface fluxes, as well as ensembles of climate model simulations, will be examined for any evidence that human-driven climate change is altering the probability of extremes-generating ocean states and the physical reasons why. The project will provide a comprehensive assessment of the oceanographic and ocean-atmosphere causes of the ocean states associated with two important extremes-generating SST anomalies. This work, largely observationally-based, will determine the physics underlying oceanic causes of recent climate and weather extremes.


National Science Foundation





Anderson, W. B. and Seager, R. and Baethgen, W. and Cane, M. and You, L. "Synchronous crop failures and climate-forced production variability" Science Advances , v.5 , 2019 10.1126/sciadv.aaw1976 Citation Details