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The AMOC needs a universally-accepted definition
  • Nicholas P. Foukal,
  • Léon Chafik
Nicholas P. Foukal
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Corresponding Author:nfoukal@whoi.edu

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Léon Chafik
Stockholm University
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The debate over the historical and future evolution of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) has united scientists around a single topic, but this community has yet to unite around a single definition of the AMOC. In an effort to focus the debate around dynamics rather than semantics, we recommend that the community universally adopt a definition of the AMOC in density coordinates. We present evidence that the traditional depth space definition is insufficient at capturing elements of this circulation, especially at high latitudes where the northward and southward limbs of the AMOC are separated horizontally rather than vertically. Instead, the AMOC in density coordinates more realistically captures the water mass transformation process at high latitudes, shifts the maximum AMOC from the subtropical to the subpolar North Atlantic where the majority of the deep waters are formed, and depicts the peak in meridional heat transport associated with the subtropical gyre.