Yona Silvy


Emergence of temperature and salinity changes in the ocean interior in response to climate change: timescales and mechanisms

Date 03/02/2022 14:30
Diplôme Sorbonne Université


Human-induced climate change is already affecting every inhabited region of the planet. Yet, over 90% of the excess heat associated with human activities has been absorbed by the ocean since the 1970s, which acts to largely damp atmospheric warming, but has large impacts on human societies and marine life. In this thesis, I explore when and where thermohaline changes in the ocean interior become large enough to be unambiguously set apart from internal variability and investigate their associated physical drivers, using ensembles of climate models and dedicated numerical experiments. We find that the climate signal in the upper ocean water-masses emerges between the late 20th century and the first decades of the 21st. The Southern Hemisphere mid-latitude Mode Waters emerge before their Northern Hemisphere counterparts. The associated warming at these timescales is mostly caused by the uptake of heat from the atmosphere, passively transported into the ocean interior. In the deeper parts of the ocean, circulation changes play a more important role in the emergence timescales of the climate signals. Increased buoyancy gain at the surface in the subpolar areas cause a slowdown in the meridional overturning circulation. This warms the subsurface and abyssal waters in the Southern Ocean as soon as the mid-20th century, adding up to the weaker passive uptake of heat, but counteracts it in the deep North Atlantic over the 21st, delaying the emergence. Although climate models miss some important aspects of the ocean response to climate change, they allow to shed light on the balance of processes at play, and suggest anthropogenic influence has already spread to large parts of the ocean.


Lieu : présentiel et/ou lien de connexion: https://t.co/SxkaH6vt8v (meeting ID: 944 3024 6191; password : 7eCes6)

Composition du jury

Directeurs de thèse : Eric Guilyardi (CNRS-LOCEAN) et Jean-Baptiste Sallée (CNRS-LOCEAN)
Rapporteur.ice.s : Helene Hewitt (Met Office) et Laurent Terray (CNRS-CERFACS)
Examinatrices : Anne-Marie Tréguier (CNRS-LOPS) et Laure Zanna (NYU)
Président du jury : Francis Codron (SU-LOCEAN)