Johan Nilsson

Professor i Meteorologi

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Arbetar vid Meteorologiska institutionen (MISU)
Telefon 08-16 17 36
Besöksadress Svante Arrhenius väg 16 C
Rum C 624
Postadress Meteorologiska institutionen (MISU) 106 91 Stockholm

Om mig

Johan Nilsson är professor i fysisk oceanografi. Han disputerade 1995 på Göteborgs universitet och efter en postdoc på Massachusetts Institute of Technology kom han till Meteorologiska institutionen på Stockholms universitet 1997. Hans forskning fokuserar på den storskaliga oceancirkulationen och dess inverkan på jordens klimat.


I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas
  • 2017. Christian Stranne (et al.). Scientific Reports 7

    Although there is enough heat contained in inflowing warm Atlantic Ocean water to melt all Arctic sea ice within a few years, a cold halocline limits upward heat transport from the Atlantic water. The amount of heat that penetrates the halocline to reach the sea ice is not well known, but vertical heat transport through the halocline layer can significantly increase in the presence of double diffusive convection. Such convection can occur when salinity and temperature gradients share the same sign, often resulting in the formation of thermohaline staircases. Staircase structures in the Arctic Ocean have been previously identified and the associated double diffusive convection has been suggested to influence the Arctic Ocean in general and the fate of the Arctic sea ice cover in particular. A central challenge to understanding the role of double diffusive convection in vertical heat transport is one of observation. Here, we use broadband echo sounders to characterize Arctic thermohaline staircases at their full vertical and horizontal resolution over large spatial areas (100 s of kms). In doing so, we offer new insight into the mechanism of thermohaline staircase evolution and scale, and hence fluxes, with implications for understanding ocean mixing processes and ocean-sea ice interactions.

  • 2017. Liam Brannigan (et al.). Journal of Physical Oceanography

    Isolated anticyclones are frequently observed below the mixed layer in the Arctic Ocean. Some of these subsurface anticyclones are thought to originate at surface fronts. However, previous idealized simulations with no surface stress show that only cyclone–anticyclone dipoles can propagate away from baroclinically unstable surface fronts. Numerical simulations of fronts subject to a surface stress presented here show that a surface stress in the same direction as the geostrophic flow inhibits dipole propagation away from the front. On the other hand, a surface stress in the opposite direction to the geostrophic flow helps dipoles to propagate away from the front. Regardless of the surface stress at the point of dipole formation, these dipoles can be broken up on a time scale of days when a surface stress is applied in the right direction. The dipole breakup leads to the deeper anticyclonic component becoming an isolated subsurface eddy. The breakup of the dipole occurs because the cyclonic component of the dipole in the mixed layer is subject to an additional advection because of the Ekman flow. When the Ekman transport has a component oriented from the anticyclonic part of the dipole toward the cyclonic part then the cyclone is advected away from the anticyclone and the dipole is broken up. When the Ekman transport is in other directions relative to the dipole axis, it also leads to deviations in the trajectory of the dipole. A scaling is presented for the rate at which the surface cyclone is advected that holds across a range of mixed layer depths and surface stress magnitudes in these simulations. The results may be relevant to other regions of the ocean with similar near-surface stratification profiles.

  • 2017. Johan Nilsson (et al.). The Cryosphere 11 (4), 1745-1765

    Recent geological and geophysical data suggest that a 1 km thick ice shelf extended over the glacial Arctic Ocean during Marine Isotope Stage 6, about 140 000 years ago. Here, we theoretically analyse the development and equilibrium features of such an ice shelf, using scaling analyses and a one-dimensional ice-sheet-ice-shelf model. We find that the dynamically most consistent scenario is an ice shelf with a nearly uniform thickness that covers the entire Arctic Ocean. Further, the ice shelf has two regions with distinctly different dynamics: a vast interior region covering the central Arctic Ocean and an exit region towards the Fram Strait. In the interior region, which is effectively dammed by the Fram Strait constriction, there are strong back stresses and the mean ice-shelf thickness is controlled primarily by the horizontally integrated mass balance. A narrow transition zone is found near the continental grounding line, in which the ice-shelf thickness decreases offshore and approaches the mean basin thickness. If the surface accumulation and mass flow from the continental ice masses are sufficiently large, the ice-shelf thickness grows to the point where the ice shelf grounds on the Lomonosov Ridge. As this occurs, the back stress increases in the Amerasian Basin and the ice-shelf thickness becomes larger there than in the Eurasian Basin towards the Fram Strait. Using a one-dimensional ice-dynamic model, the stability of equilibrium ice-shelf configurations without and with grounding on the Lomonosov Ridge are examined. We find that the grounded ice-shelf configuration should be stable if the two Lomonosov Ridge grounding lines are located on the opposites sides of the ridge crest, implying that the downstream grounding line is located on a downward sloping bed. This result shares similarities with the classical result on marine ice-sheet stability of Weertman, but due to interactions between the Amerasian and Eurasian ice-shelf segments the mass flux at the downstream grounding line decreases rather than increases with ice thickness.

  • 2017. Martin Jakobsson (et al.). Climate of the Past 13 (8), 991-1005

    The Bering Strait connects the Arctic and Pacific oceans and separates the North American and Asian landmasses. The presently shallow (similar to 53 m) strait was exposed during the sea level lowstand of the last glacial period, which permitted human migration across a land bridge today referred to as the Bering Land Bridge. Proxy studies (stable isotope composition of foraminifera, whale migration into the Arctic Ocean, mollusc and insect fossils and paleobotanical data) have suggested a range of ages for the Bering Strait reopening, mainly falling within the Younger Dryas stadial (12.9-11.7 cal ka BP). Here we provide new information on the deglacial and post-glacial evolution of the Arctic-Pacific connection through the Bering Strait based on analyses of geological and geophysical data from Herald Canyon, located north of the Bering Strait on the Chukchi Sea shelf region in the western Arctic Ocean. Our results suggest an initial opening at about 11 cal ka BP in the earliest Holocene, which is later than in several previous studies. Our key evidence is based on a well-dated core from Herald Canyon, in which a shift from a near-shore environment to a Pacific-influenced open marine setting at around 11 cal ka BP is observed. The shift corresponds to meltwater pulse 1b (MWP1b) and is interpreted to signify relatively rapid breaching of the Bering Strait and the submergence of the large Bering Land Bridge. Although the precise rates of sea level rise cannot be quantified, our new results suggest that the late deglacial sea level rise was rapid and occurred after the end of the Younger Dryas stadial.

  • 2016. Martin Jakobsson (et al.). Nature Communications 7

    The hypothesis of a km-thick ice shelf covering the entire Arctic Ocean during peak glacial conditions was proposed nearly half a century ago. Floating ice shelves preserve few direct traces after their disappearance, making reconstructions difficult. Seafloor imprints of ice shelves should, however, exist where ice grounded along their flow paths. Here we present new evidence of ice-shelf groundings on bathymetric highs in the central Arctic Ocean, resurrecting the concept of an ice shelf extending over the entire central Arctic Ocean during at least one previous ice age. New and previously mapped glacial landforms together reveal flow of a spatially coherent, in some regions41-km thick, central Arctic Ocean ice shelf dated to marine isotope stage 6 (similar to 140 ka). Bathymetric highs were likely critical in the ice-shelf development by acting as pinning points where stabilizing ice rises formed, thereby providing sufficient back stress to allow ice shelf thickening.

  • 2016. Sara Broomé, Johan Nilsson. Journal of Physical Oceanography 46 (8), 2437-2456

    In high-latitude subpolar seas, such as the Nordic seas and the Labrador Sea, time-mean geostrophic currents mediate the bulk of the meridional oceanic heat transport. These currents are primarily encountered along the continental slopes as intense cyclonic boundary currents, which, because of the relatively weak stratification, should be strongly steered by the bottom topography. However, analyses of hydrographic and satellite altimetric data along depth contours in Nordic seas boundary currents reveal some remarkable, stationary, along-stream variations in the depth-integrated buoyancy and bottom pressure. A closer examination shows that these variations are linked to changes in steepness and curvature of the continental slope. To examine the underlying dynamics, a steady-state model of a cyclonic stratified boundary current over a topographic slope is developed in the limit of small Rossby numbers. Based on potential vorticity conservation, equations for the zeroth-and first-order pressure and buoyancy fields are derived. To the lowest order, the flow is completely aligned with the bottom topography. However, the first-order results show that where the lowest-order flow increases (decreases) its relative vorticity along a depth contour, the first-order pressure and depthintegrated buoyancy increase (decrease). This response is associated with cross-isobath flows, which induce stretching/compression of fluid elements that compensates for the changes in relative vorticity. The model-predicted along-isobath variations in pressure and depth-integrated buoyancy are comparable in magnitude to the ones found in the observational data from the Nordics Seas.

  • 2016. Marcus Lofverstrom (et al.). Journal of Atmospheric Sciences 73 (8), 3329-3342

    Current estimates of the height of the Laurentide Ice Sheet (LIS) at the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) range from around 3000 to 4500 m. Modeling studies of the LGM, using low-end estimates of the LIS height, show a relatively weak and northeastward-tilted winter jet in the North Atlantic, similar to the modern jet, while simulations with high-end LIS elevations show a much more intense and zonally oriented jet. Here, an explanation for this response of the Atlantic circulation is sought using a sequence of LGM simulations spanning a broad range of LIS elevations. It is found that increasing LIS height favors planetary wave breaking and nonlinear reflection in the subtropical North Atlantic. For high LIS elevations, planetary wave reflection becomes sufficiently prevalent that a poleward-directed flux of wave activity appears in the climatology over the midlatitude North Atlantic. This entails a zonalization of the stationary wave phase lines and thus of the midlatitude jet.

  • 2016. Mari F. Jensen, Johan Nilsson, Kerim H. Nisancioglu. Climate Dynamics 47 (9-10), 3301-3317

    Changes in the sea ice cover of the Nordic Seas have been proposed to play a key role for the dramatic temperature excursions associated with the Dansgaard-Oeschger events during the last glacial. In this study, we develop a simple conceptual model to examine how interactions between sea ice and oceanic heat and freshwater transports affect the stability of an upper-ocean halocline in a semi-enclosed basin. The model represents a sea ice covered and salinity stratified Nordic Seas, and consists of a sea ice component and a two-layer ocean. The sea ice thickness depends on the atmospheric energy fluxes as well as the ocean heat flux. We introduce a thickness-dependent sea ice export. Whether sea ice stabilizes or destabilizes against a freshwater perturbation is shown to depend on the representation of the diapycnal flow. In a system where the diapycnal flow increases with density differences, the sea ice acts as a positive feedback on a freshwater perturbation. If the diapycnal flow decreases with density differences, the sea ice acts as a negative feedback. However, both representations lead to a circulation that breaks down when the freshwater input at the surface is small. As a consequence, we get rapid changes in sea ice. In addition to low freshwater forcing, increasing deep-ocean temperatures promote instability and the disappearance of sea ice. Generally, the unstable state is reached before the vertical density difference disappears, and the temperature of the deep ocean do not need to increase as much as previously thought to provoke abrupt changes in sea ice.

  • 2016. Per Pemberton, Johan Nilsson. Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans 121 (1), 792-817

    Using a state-of-the-art coupled ice-ocean-circulation model, we perform a number of sensitivity experiments to examine how the central Arctic Ocean stratification responds to changes in river runoff and precipitation. The simulations yield marked changes in the cold halocline and the Arctic Atlantic layer. Increased precipitation yields a warming of the Atlantic layer, which primarily is an advective signal, propagated through the St. Anna Trough, reflecting air-sea heat flux changes over the Barents Sea. As the freshwater supply is increased, the anticyclonic Beaufort Gyre is weakened and a greater proportion of the Arctic Ocean freshwater is exported via the Fram Strait, with nearly compensating export decreases through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The corresponding reorganization of the freshwater pool appears to be controlled by advective processes, rather than by the local changes in the surface freshwater flux. A simple conceptual model of the Arctic Ocean, based on a geostrophically controlled discharge of the low-salinity water, is introduced and compared with the simulations. Key predictions of the conceptual model are that the halocline depth should decrease with increasing freshwater input and that the Arctic Ocean freshwater storage should increase proportionally to the square root of the freshwater input, which are in broad qualitative agreement with the sensitivity experiments. However, the model-simulated rate of increase of the freshwater storage is weaker, indicating that effects related to wind forcing and rerouting of the freshwater-transport pathways play an important role for the dynamics of the Arctic Ocean freshwater storage.

  • 2015. Per Pemberton (et al.). Journal of Physical Oceanography 45 (4), 1025-1050

    In this paper, watermass transformations in the Arctic Ocean are studied using a recently developed salinity-temperature (S-T) framework. The framework allows the water mass transformations to be succinctly quantified by computing the surface and internal diffusive fluxes in S-T coordinates. This study shows how the method can be applied to a specific oceanic region, in this case the Arctic Ocean, by including the advective exchange of water masses across the boundaries of the region. Based on a simulation with a global ocean circulation model, the authors examine the importance of various parameterized mixing processes and surface fluxes for the transformation of water across isohaline and isothermal surfaces in the ArcticOcean. The model-based results reveal a broadly realistic Arctic Ocean where the inflowing Atlantic and Pacific waters are primarily cooled and freshened before exiting back to the North Atlantic. In the model, the water mass transformation in the T direction is primarily accomplished by the surface heat flux. However, the surface freshwater flux plays a minor role in the transformation of water toward lower salinities, which is mainly driven by a downgradient mixing of salt in the interior ocean. Near the freezing line, the seasonal melt and growth of sea ice influences the transformation pattern.

  • 2015. L. Chafik (et al.). Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans 120 (12), 7897-7918

    The climatic conditions over the Arctic Ocean are strongly influenced by the inflow of warm Atlantic water conveyed by the Norwegian Atlantic Slope Current (NwASC). Based on sea surface height (SSH) data from altimetry, we develop a simple dynamical measure of the NwASC transport to diagnose its spatio-temporal variability. This supports a dynamical division of the NwASC into two flow regimes; the SvinOy Branch (SvB) in the southern Norwegian Sea, and the Fram Strait Branch (FSB) west of Spitsbergen. The SvB transport is well correlated with the SSH and atmospheric variability within the Nordic Seas, factors that also affect the inflow to the Barents Sea. In contrast, the FSB is influenced by regional atmospheric conditions around Svalbard and northern Barents Sea. Using a composite analysis, we further relate anomalous strong SvB flow events to temperature fluctuations along the core of Atlantic water. A warm composite anomaly is found to propagate northward, with a tendency to amplify enroute, after these events. A roughly 12 months delayed temperature signal is identified in the FSB. However, also in the Lofoten Basin interior a delayed temperature signal is found, which appears to originate from the NwASC. This study suggests that hydrographic anomalies both upstream from the North Atlantic, and locally generated in the Norwegian Sea, are important for the oceanic heat and salt transport that eventually enters into the Arctic.

  • 2014. Per Pemberton, Johan Nilsson, H. E. Markus Meier. Tellus. Series A, Dynamic meteorology and oceanography 66

    Freshwater (FW) induced transformations in the upper Arctic Ocean were studied using a coupled regional sea ice-ocean model driven by winds and thermodynamic forcing from a reanalysis of data during the period 1948-2011, focusing on the mean state during 1968-2011. Using passive tracers to mark a number of FW sources and sinks, their mean composition, pathways and export were examined. The distribution of the simulated FW height reproduced the known features of the Arctic Ocean and volume-integrated FW content matched climatological estimates reasonably well. Input from Eurasian rivers and extraction by sea-ice formation dominate the composition of the Arctic FW content whilst Pacific water increases in importance in the Canadian Basin. Though pathways generally agreed with previous studies the locus of the Eurasian runoff shelf-basin transport centred at the Alpha-Mendeleyev ridge, shifting the Pacific-Atlantic front eastwards. A strong coupling between tracers representing Eurasian runoff and sea-ice formation showed how water modified on the shelf spreads across the Arctic and mainly exits through the Fram Strait. Transformation to salinity dependent coordinates showed how Atlantic water is modified by both low-salinity shelf and Pacific waters in an estuary-like overturning producing water masses of intermediate salinity that are exported to the Nordic Seas. A total halocline renewal rate of 1.0 Sv, including both shelf-basin exchange and cross-isohaline flux, was estimated from the transports: both components were of equal magnitude. The model’s halocline shelf-basin exchange is dominated by runoff and sea-ice processes at the western shelves (the Barents and Kara seas) and Pacific water at the eastern shelves (the Laptev, East Siberian and Chukchi seas).

  • 2014. Martin Jakobsson (et al.). Quaternary Science Reviews 92, 40-67

    While there are numerous hypotheses concerning glacial interglacial environmental and climatic regime shifts in the Arctic Ocean, a holistic view on the Northern Hemisphere's late Quaternary ice-sheet extent and their impact on ocean and sea-ice dynamics remains to be established. Here we aim to provide a step in this direction by presenting an overview of Arctic Ocean glacial history, based on the present state-of-the-art knowledge gained from field work and chronological studies, and with a specific focus on ice-sheet extent and environmental conditions during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). The maximum Quaternary extension of ice sheets is discussed and compared to LGM. We bring together recent results from the circum-Arctic continental margins and the deep central basin; extent of ice sheets and ice streams bordering the Arctic Ocean as well as evidence for ice shelves extending into the central deep basin. Discrepancies between new results and published LGM ice-sheet reconstructions in the high Arctic are highlighted and outstanding questions are identified. Finally, we address the ability to simulate the Arctic Ocean ice sheet complexes and their dynamics, including ice streams and ice shelves, using presently available ice-sheet models. Our review shows that while we are able to firmly reject some of the earlier hypotheses formulated to describe Arctic Ocean glacial conditions, we still lack information from key areas to compile the holistic Arctic Ocean glacial history.

  • 2014. Bijoy Thompson (et al.). Ocean Dynamics 64 (6), 797-807

    A simple method for estimating ventilation time scales from overturning stream functions is proposed. The stream function may be computed using either geometric coordinates or a generalized vertical coordinate, such as potential density (salinity in our study). The method is tested with a three-dimensional circulation model describing an idealized semi-enclosed ocean basin ventilated through a narrow strait over a sill, and the result is compared to age estimates obtained from a passive numerical age tracer. The best result is obtained when using the stream function in salinity coordinates. In this case, the reservoir-averaged advection time obtained from the overturning stream function in salinity coordinates agrees rather well with the mean age of the age tracer, and the corresponding maximum ages agree very well.

  • 2014. Marcus Löfverström (et al.). Climate of the Past 10 (4), 1453-1471

    We present modelling results of the atmospheric circulation at the cold periods of marine isotope stage 5b (MIS 5b), MIS 4 and the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), as well as the interglacial. The palaeosimulations are forced by ice-sheet reconstructions consistent with geological evidence and by appropriate insolation and greenhouse gas concentrations. The results suggest that the large-scale atmospheric winter circulation remained largely similar to the interglacial for a significant part of the glacial cycle. The proposed explanation is that the ice sheets were located in areas where their interaction with the mean flow is limited. However, the LGM Laurentide Ice Sheet induces a much larger planetary wave that leads to a zonalisation of the Atlantic jet. In summer, the ice-sheet topography dynamically induces warm temperatures in Alaska and central Asia that inhibits the expansion of the ice sheets into these regions. The warm temperatures may also serve as an explanation for westward propagation of the Eurasian Ice Sheet from MIS 4 to the LGM.

  • 2014. Magnus Hieronymus, Johan Nilsson, Jonas Nycander. Journal of Physical Oceanography 44 (9), 2547-2568

    This article presents a new framework for studying water mass transformations in salinity temperature space that can, with equal ease, be applied to study water mass transformation in spaces defined by any two conservative tracers. It is shown how the flow across isothermal and isohaline surfaces in the ocean can be quantified from knowledge of the nonadvective fluxes of heat and salt. It is also shown how these cross-isothermal and cross-isohaline flows can be used to form a continuity equation in salinity temperature space. These flows are then quantified in a state-of-the-art ocean model. Two major transformation cells are found: a tropical cell driven primarily by surface fluxes and dianeutral diffusion and a conveyor belt cell where isoneutral diffusion is also important. Both cells are similar to cells found in earlier work on the thermohaline streamfunction. A key benefit with this framework over a streamfunction approach is that transformation due to different diabatic processes can be studied individually. The distributions of volume and surface area in S-T space are found to be useful for determining how transformations due to these different processes affect the water masses in the model. The surface area distribution shows that the water mass transformations due to surface fluxes tend to be directed away from S-T regions that occupy large areas at the sea surface.

  • 2013. Johan Nilsson (et al.). Journal of Climate 26 (16), 6163-6184

    A coupled atmosphere-sea ice-ocean model is used in an aqua-planet setting to examine the role of the basin geometry for the climate and ocean circulation. The basin geometry has a present-day-like topology with two idealized northern basins and a circumpolar ocean in the south. A suite of experiments is described in which the southward extents of the two (gridpoint wide) continents and the basin widths have been varied. When the two basins have identical shapes, the coupled model can attain a symmetric climate state with northern deep-water formation in both basins as well as asymmetric states, where the deep-water formation occurs only in one of the basins and Atlantic-Pacific-like hydrographic differences develop. A difference in the southward extents of the land barriers can enhance as well as reduce the zonal asymmetries of the atmosphere-ocean circulation. This arises from an interplay between the basin boundaries and the wind-driven Sverdrup circulation, which controls the interbasin exchange of heat and salt. Remarkably, when the short African continent is located near or equatorward of the zero wind line in the Southern Hemisphere, the deep-water formation becomes uniquely localized to the Atlantic-like basin with the long western boundary. In this case, the salinification is accomplished primarily by a westward wind-routed interbasin salt transport. Furthermore, experiments using geometries with asymmetries in both continental extents and basin widths suggest that in the World Ocean these two fundamental basin asymmetries should independently be strong enough for uniquely localizing the Northern Hemisphere deep-water formation to the Atlantic Ocean.

  • 2013. Johan Kleman (et al.). Climate of the Past 9, 2365-2378

    We here reconstruct the paleotopography of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets during the glacial maxima of marine isotope stages (MIS) 5b and 4.We employ a combined approach, blending geologically based reconstruction and numerical modeling, to arrive at probable ice sheet extents and topographies for each of these two time slices. For a physically based 3-D calculation based on geologically derived 2-D constraints, we use the University of Maine Ice Sheet Model (UMISM) to calculate ice sheet thickness and topography. The approach and ice sheet modeling strategy is designed to provide robust data sets of sufficient resolution for atmospheric circulation experiments for these previously elusive time periods. Two tunable parameters, a temperature scaling function applied to a spliced Vostok–GRIP record, and spatial adjustment of the climatic pole position, were employed iteratively to achieve a good fit to geological constraints where such were available. The model credibly reproduces the first-order pattern of size and location of geologically indicated ice sheets during marine isotope stages (MIS) 5b (86.2 kyr model age) and 4 (64 kyr model age). From the interglacial state of two north–south obstacles to atmospheric circulation (Rocky Mountains and Greenland), by MIS 5b the emergence of combined Quebec–central Arctic and Scandinavian–Barents-Kara ice sheets had increased the number of such highland obstacles to four. The number of major ice sheets remained constant through MIS 4, but the merging of the Cordilleran and the proto-Laurentide Ice Sheet produced a single continent-wide North American ice sheet at the LGM.

  • 2013. M. Berger, J. Brandefelt, Johan Nilsson. Climate of the Past 9 (2), 969-982

    In the present work the Arctic sea ice in the mid-Holocene and the pre-industrial climates are analysed and compared on the basis of climate-model results from the Paleoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project phase 2 (PMIP2) and phase 3 (PMIP3). The PMIP3 models generally simulate smaller and thinner sea-ice extents than the PMIP2 models both for the pre-industrial and the mid-Holocene climate. Further, the PMIP2 and PMIP3 models all simulate a smaller and thinner Arctic summer sea-ice cover in the mid-Holocene than in the pre-industrial control climate. The PMIP3 models also simulate thinner winter sea ice than the PMIP2 models. The winter sea-ice extent response, i.e. the difference between the mid-Holocene and the pre-industrial climate, varies among both PMIP2 and PMIP3 models. Approximately one half of the models simulate a decrease in winter sea-ice extent and one half simulates an increase. The model-mean summer sea-ice extent is 11% (21 %) smaller in the mid-Holocene than in the pre-industrial climate simulations in the PMIP2 (PMIP3). In accordance with the simple model of Thorndike (1992), the sea-ice thickness response to the insolation change from the pre-industrial to the mid-Holocene is stronger in models with thicker ice in the pre-industrial climate simulation. Further, the analyses show that climate models for which the Arctic sea-ice responses to increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations are similar may simulate rather different sea-ice responses to the change in solar forcing between the mid-Holocene and the pre-industrial. For two specific models, which are analysed in detail, this difference is found to be associated with differences in the simulated cloud fractions in the summer Arctic; in the model with a larger cloud fraction the effect of insolation change is muted. A sub-set of the mid-Holocene simulations in the PMIP ensemble exhibit open water off the north-eastern coast of Greenland in summer, which can provide a fetch for surface waves. This is in broad agreement with recent analyses of sea-ice proxies, indicating that beach-ridges formed on the north-eastern coast of Greenland during the early-to mid-Holocene.

  • 2012. Bijoy Thompson (et al.). Polar Research 31, 10859

    The tectonic opening of Fram Strait during the Neogene was a significant geological event that transferred the Arctic Ocean from a poorly ventilated enclosed basin, with weak exchange with the North Atlantic, to a fully ventilated ocean stage''. Previous tectonic and physical oceanographic analyses suggest that the early Miocene Fram Strait was likely several times narrower and less than half as deep as the present-day 400 km wide and 2550 m deep strait. Here we use an ocean general circulation model with a passive age tracer included to further address the effect of the Fram Strait opening on the early Miocene Arctic Ocean circulation. The model tracer age exhibits strong spatial gradient between the two major Arctic Ocean deep basins: the Eurasian and Amerasian basins. There is a two-layer stratification and the exchange flow through Fram Strait shows a bi-layer structure with a low salinity outflow from the Arctic confined to a relatively thin upper layer and a saline inflow from the North Atlantic below. Our study suggests that although Fram Strait was significantly narrower and shallower during early Miocene, and the ventilation mechanism quite different in our model, the estimated ventilation rates are comparable to the chemical tracer estimates in the present-day Arctic Ocean. Since we achieved ventilation of the Arctic Ocean with a prescribed Fram Strait width of 100 km and sill depth of 1000 m, ventilation may have preceded the timing of a full ocean depth connection between the Arctic Ocean and North Atlantic established through seafloor spreading and the development of the Lena Trough.

  • 2012. T. M. Cronin (et al.). Nature Geoscience 5 (9), 631-634

    In the Arctic Ocean, the cold and relatively fresh water beneath the sea ice is separated from the underlying warmer and saltier Atlantic Layer by a halocline. Ongoing sea ice loss and warming in the Arctic Ocean(1-7) have demonstrated the instability of the halocline, with implications for further sea ice loss. The stability of the halocline through past climate variations(8-10) is unclear. Here we estimate intermediate water temperatures over the past 50,000 years from the Mg/Ca and Sr/Ca values of ostracods from 31 Arctic sediment cores. From about 50 to 11 kyr ago, the central Arctic Basin from 1,000 to 2,500 m was occupied by a water mass we call Glacial Arctic Intermediate Water. This water mass was 1-2 degrees C warmer than modern Arctic Intermediate Water, with temperatures peaking during or just before millennial-scale Heinrich cold events and the Younger Dryas cold interval. We use numerical modelling to show that the intermediate depth warming could result from the expected decrease in the flux of fresh water to the Arctic Ocean during glacial conditions, which would cause the halocline to deepen and push the warm Atlantic Layer into intermediate depths. Although not modelled, the reduced formation of cold, deep waters due to the exposure of the Arctic continental shelf could also contribute to the intermediate depth warming.

  • 2012. Johan Liakka, Johan Nilsson, Marcus Löfverström. Climate Dynamics 38 (5-6), 1249-1262

    This study examines the mutual interaction between topographically-forced atmospheric stationary waves and continental-scale ice sheets using a thermomechanical ice-sheet model coupled to a linear as well as a fully-nonlinear dry atmospheric primitive equation model. The focus is on how the stationary-wave induced ablation feeds back on the ice sheet. Simulations are conducted in which an embryonal ice mass, on an idealised “North American” continent, evolves to an equilibrium ice sheet. Under the coupling to the linear atmospheric model, the equilibrium ice sheet is primarily controlled by the ratio between the wavelength of the stationary waves and the zonal continental extent. When this ratio is near two, the ice sheet has its center of mass shifted far eastward and its shape is broadly reminiscent of the Laurentide ice sheet at LGM. For wavelengths comparable to the continental extent, however, the ice margin extends far equatorward on the central continent but is displaced poleward near the eastern coast. Remarkably, the coupling to the nonlinear atmospheric model yields equilibrium ice sheets that are virtually identical to the ones obtained in uncoupled simulations, i.e. a symmetric ice sheet with a zonal southern margin. Thus, the degree of linearity of the atmospheric response should control to what extent topographically-forced stationary waves can reorganise the structure of ice sheets. If the stationary-wave response is linear, the present results suggest that spatial reconstructions of past ice sheets can provide some information on the zonal-mean atmospheric circulation that prevailed.

  • 2012. Kristofer Döös (et al.). Journal of Physical Oceanography 42 (9), 1445-1460

    A new global streamfunction is presented and denoted the thermohaline streamfunction. This is defined as the volume transport in terms of temperature and salinity (hence no spatial variables). The streamfunction is used to analyze and quantify the entire World Ocean conversion rate between cold/warm and fresh/saline waters. It captures two main cells of the global thermohaline circulation, one corresponding to the conveyor belt and one corresponding to the shallow tropical circulation. The definition of a thermohaline streamfunction also enables a new method of estimating the turnover time as well as the heat and freshwater transports of the conveyor belt. The overturning time of the conveyor belt is estimated to be between 1000 and 2000 yr, depending on the choice of stream layer. The heat and freshwater transports of these two large thermohaline cells have been calculated by integrating the thermohaline streamfunction over the salinity or temperature, yielding a maximum heat transport of the conveyor belt of 1.2 PW over the 34.2-PSU salinity surface and a freshwater transport of 0.8 Sv (1 Sv = 10(6) m(3) s(-1)) over the 9 degrees C isotherm. This is a measure of the net interocean exchange of heat between the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific due to the thermohaline circulation.

  • 2011. Kristofer Döös, Johan Nilsson. Journal of Atmospheric Sciences 68 (8), 1806-1820

    The atmospheric meridional overturning circulation is computed using the interim European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim) data. Meridional mass transport streamfunctions are calculated not only using pressure as a vertical coordinate but also using temperature, specific humidity, and geopotential height as generalized vertical coordinates. Moreover, mass transport streamfunctions are calculated using the latent, the dry static, or the moist static energy as generalized vertical coordinates. The total meridional energy transport can be obtained by integrating these streamfunctions vertically over their entire energy range. The time-averaged mass transport streamfunctions are also decomposed into mean-flow and eddy-induced components. The meridional mass transport streamfunctions with temperature and specific humidity as independent variables yield a two-cell structure with a tropical Hadley-like cell and a pronounced extratropical Ferrel-like cell, which carries warm and moist air poleward. These Ferrel-like cells are much stronger than the Eulerian zonal-mean Ferrel cell, a feature that can be understood by considering the residual circulation related to specific humidity or temperature. Regardless of the generalized vertical coordinate, the present meridional mass transport streamfunctions yield essentially a two-layer structure with one poleward and one equatorward branch. The strongest meridional overturning in the midlatitudes is obtained when the specific humidity or the moist static energy is used as the vertical coordinate, indicating that the specific humidity is the variable that best distinguishes between poleward- and equatorward-moving air in the lower troposphere.

  • 2011. Johan Nilsson, Harald Lejenäs. Tellus. Series A, Dynamic meteorology and oceanography 63 (2), 189-189
  • 2010. Martin Jakobsson (et al.). Quaternary Science Reviews 29 (25-26), 3505-3517

    The hypothesis of floating ice shelves covering the Arctic Ocean during glacial periods was developed in the 1970s. In its most extreme form, this theory involved a 1000 m thick continuous ice shelf covering the Arctic Ocean during Quaternary glacial maxima including the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). While recent observations clearly demonstrate deep ice grounding events in the central Arctic Ocean, the ice shelf hypothesis has been difficult to evaluate due to a lack of information from key areas with severe sea ice conditions. Here we present new data from previously inaccessible, unmapped areas that constrain the spatial extent and timing of marine ice sheets during past glacials. These data include multibeam swath bathymetry and subbottom profiles portraying glaciogenic features on the Chukchi Borderland, southern Lomonosov Ridge north of Greenland, Morris Jesup Rise, and Yermak Plateau. Sediment cores from the mapped areas provide age constraints on the glaciogenic features. Combining these new geophysical and geological data with earlier results suggests that an especially extensive marine ice sheet complex, including an ice shelf, existed in the Amerasian Arctic Ocean during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 6. From a conceptual oceanographic model we speculate that the cold halocline of the Polar Surface Water may have extended to deeper water depths during MIS 6 inhibiting the warm Atlantic water from reaching the Amerasian Arctic Ocean and, thus, creating favorable conditions for ice shelf development. The hypothesis of a continuous 1000 m thick ice shelf is rejected because our mapping results show that several areas in the central Arctic Ocean substantially shallower than 1000 m water depth are free from glacial influence on the seafloor.

  • 2010. Qiong Zhang (et al.). Climate of the Past 6, 609-626

    The climate response over northern high latitudesto the mid-Holocene orbital forcing has been investigated inthree types of PMIP (Paleoclimate Modelling IntercomparisonProject) simulations with different complexity of themodelled climate system. By first undertaking model-datacomparison, an objective selection method has been appliedto evaluate the capability of the climate models to reproducethe spatial response pattern seen in proxy data. The possiblefeedback mechanisms behind the climate response havebeen explored based on the selected model simulations. Subsequentmodel-model comparisons indicate the importanceof including the different physical feedbacks in the climatemodels. The comparisons between the proxy-based reconstructionsand the best fit selected simulations show that overthe northern high latitudes, summer temperature change followsclosely the insolation change and shows a commonfeature with strong warming over land and relatively weakwarming over ocean at 6 ka compared to 0 ka. Furthermore,the sea-ice-albedo positive feedback enhances this response.The reconstructions of temperature show a strongerresponse to enhanced insolation in the annual mean temperaturethan winter and summer temperature. This is verified inthe model simulations and the behaviour is attributed to thelarger contribution from the large response in autumn. Despitea smaller insolation during winter at 6 ka, a pronouncedwarming centre is found over Barents Sea in winter in thesimulations, which is also supported by the nearby northernEurasian continental and Fennoscandian reconstructions.This indicates that in the Arctic region, the response of theocean and the sea ice to the enhanced summer insolationis more important for the winter temperature than the synchronousdecrease of the insolation.

  • 2010. Hanna S. Sundqvist (et al.). Climate of the Past 6, 591-608

    We undertake a study in two parts, where theoverall aim is to quantitatively compare results from climateproxy data with results from several climate model simulationsfrom the Paleoclimate Modelling IntercomparisonProject for the mid-Holocene period and the pre-industrial,conditions for the pan-arctic region, north of 60 N. In thisfirst paper, we survey the available published local temperatureand precipitation proxy records. We also discuss andquantifiy some uncertainties in the estimated difference inclimate between the two periods as recorded in the availabledata. The spatial distribution of available published localproxies has a marked geographical bias towards land areassurrounding the North Atlantic sector, especially Fennoscandia.The majority of the reconstructions are terrestrial, andthere is a large over-representation towards summer temperaturerecords. The available reconstructions indicate that thenorthern high latitudes were warmer in both summer, winterand the in annual mean temperature at the mid-Holocene(6000 BP±500 yrs) compared to the pre-industrial period(1500AD±500 yrs). For usage in the model-data comparisons(in Part 1), we estimate the calibration uncertainty andalso the internal variability in the proxy records, to derive acombined minimum uncertainty in the reconstructed temperaturechange between the two periods. Often, the calibrationuncertainty alone, at a certain site, exceeds the actual reconstructedclimate change at the site level. In high-density regions,however, neighbouring records can be merged into aCorrespondence to: H. S. Sundqvist( record to increase the signal-to-noise ratio. Thechallenge of producing reliable inferred climate reconstructionsfor the Holocene cannot be underestimated, consideringthe fact that the estimated temperature and precipitationfluctuations during this period are in magnitude similar to, orlower than, the uncertainties the reconstructions. We advocatea more widespread practice of archiving proxy recordsas most of the potentially available reconstructions are notpublished in digital form.

  • 2010. Johan Kleman (et al.). Svenska Dagbladet (25 maj)
  • 2010. Johan Nilsson, Gösta Walin. Tellus. Series A, Dynamic meteorology and oceanography 62 (2), 123-133

    The dynamics of a salinity-dominated thermohaline circulation in a sill basin is examined using a two-layer model. A prescribed freshwater supply acts to establish a stable stratification, working against a prescribed destabilizing temperature difference. The upper-layer outflow is in geostrophic balance and the upwelling is driven by a fixed energy supply to small-scale vertical mixing. The salinity-dominated flow may have two qualitatively different modes of operation. First, a mixing-limited regime, where the upper layer is shallower than the sill and the flow strength decreases with increasing density difference. Second, an overmixed regime, where the upper layer extends below the sill and the flow strength increases with density difference. Possibly, mixing-limited and overmixed equilibria, with widely different upper-layer depths, can exist for the same external parameters. In such cases, transitions between the two regimes are associated with abrupt changes of the salinity, depth and flow strength. The present results may be of relevance for ocean circulation in glacial climates and for interpretations of marine palaeo data, issues that are briefly discussed in the context of the Arctic Ocean.

  • 2010. Johan Liakka, Johan Nilsson. Journal of Glaciology 56 (197), 534-544

    A linear two-level atmospheric model is employed to study the influence of ice-sheet topography on atmospheric stationary waves. In particular, the stationary-wave-induced temperature anomaly is considered locally over a single ice-sheet topography, which is computed using the plastic approximation. It is found that stationary waves induce a local cooling which increases linearly with the ice volume for ice sheets of horizontal extents smaller than 1400 km. Beyond this horizontal scale, the dependence of stationary-wave-induced cooling on the ice volume becomes gradually weaker. For a certain ice-sheet size, and for small changes of the surface zonal wind, it is further shown that the strength of the local stationary-wave-induced cooling is proportional to the basic state meridional temperature gradient multiplied by the vertical stratification in the atmosphere. These results are of importance for the nature of the feedback between ice sheets and stationary waves, and may also serve as a basis for parameterizing this feedback in ice-sheet model simulations (e.g. through the Pleistocene glacial/interglacial cycles).

  • 2010. Bijoy Thompson (et al.). Paleoceanography 25, PA4216

    A model study of an idealized early Miocene Arctic Ocean has been undertaken. The work is motivated by the first drill core retrieved from the Lomonosov Ridge in the central Arctic Ocean, which suggests a transition from anoxic to oxic condition during the early Miocene, a feature presumably related to the opening of the Fram Strait. Here, the ventilation in a semienclosed basin, connected with the ocean through a strait with a sill, is examined using an ocean circulation model that includes a passive age tracer. In particular, we investigate how the ventilation depends on strait geometry, freshwater influx, and surface wind stress. We find that the turnover time, characterizing the bulk ventilation rate, is primarily controlled by the strait width and the wind stress. Generally, the oldest water in the basin is encountered near the sill depth, but wind forcing displaces the oldest water downward. For narrow straits, the turnover time gives an upper bound on the mean age of the basin water. The results have implications when translating local oxygen conditions, recorded in the sediment sequence from the Lomonosov Ridge, to basin-scale circulation patterns. Further, the results indicate that the early Miocene Arctic Ocean became well ventilated when the Fram Strait reached a width of about 100 km.

  • 2009. Hanna S. Sundqvist (et al.). Climate of the Past Discussions 5 (4), 1819-1852
  • 2009. Qiong Zhang (et al.). Climate of the Past Discussions 5 (3), 1659-1696
  • 2009. Hanna Corell (et al.). Tellus. Series A, Dynamic meteorology and oceanography 61 (5), 635-653

    An idealised two-basin model is used to investigate the impact of the wind field on the heat exchange between the ocean basins. The scalar potential of the divergent component of the horizontal heat flux is computed, which gives a 'coarse-grained' image of the surface heat flux that captures the large-scale structure of the horizontal heat transport. Further the non-divergent component is examined, as well as the meridional heat transport and the temperature–latitude overturning stream function. A sensitivity analysis examines the heat transport response to changes in wind stress at different latitudes. The results are compared with results from an eddy-permitting global circulation model. The westerly wind stress over the Southern Ocean has two effects: a local reduction of the surface heat loss in response to the equatorward surface Ekman drift, and a global re-routing of the heat export from the Indo-Pacific. Without wind forcing, the Indo-Pacific heat export is released to the atmosphere in the Southern Ocean, and the net heat transport in the southern Atlantic is southward. With wind forcing, the Indo-Pacific export enters the Atlantic through the Aghulas and is released in the Northern Hemisphere. The easterlies enhance the poleward heat transport in both basins.

  • 2008. Johan Nilsson, Heiner Körnich. Journal of Climate 21 (24), 6586-6598

    A conceptual model of the salinity distribution in the oceanic Hadley cell is presented. The model pertains to the region of tropical easterly surface winds, where the surface salinity increases poleward from a local salinity minimum near the equator to a subtropical salinity maximum. A fundamental constraint is that the meridional freshwater transports in the atmosphere and the ocean have the same magnitude but opposite directions. A key assumption is that the strength of the meridional overturning cells in the atmosphere and the ocean is proportional and set by the surface layer Ekman transport. It is further assumed that, to the lowest order of approximation, the zonal-mean Ekman transports accomplish the meridional freshwater transports, that is, eddy fluxes and gyre-induced transports are ignored. The model predicts that the salinity variation in the oceanic cell is directly proportional to the specific humidity of the near-surface air, but independent of the meridional mass transport (as long as the atmospheric and oceanic mass transports remain proportional). If the relative humidity of the near-surface air is constant, the salinity variation in the oceanic Hadley cell varies essentially with the surface temperature according to the Clausius–Clapeyron expression for the saturation vapor pressure. Further, the model is compared to observations and a global warming simulation and found to give a leading-order description of the tropical surface salinity range.

  • 2008. Johan Nilsson (et al.). Progress In Oceanography 78 (1), 45-57

    Dynamical features of the East Greenland Current (EGC) are synthesized from a survey conducted by the Swedish icebreaker Oden during the International Arctic Ocean – 02 expedition (AO-02) in May 2002 with emphasis on the liquid freshwater transport and Polar Surface Water. The data include hydrography and lowered acoustic doppler current profiler (LADCP) velocities in eight transects along the EGC, from the Fram Strait in the north to the Denmark Strait in the south. The survey reveals a strong confinement of the low-salinity polar water in the EGC to the continental slope/shelf—a feature of relevance for the stability of the thermohaline circulation in the Arctic Mediterranean. The southward transport of liquid freshwater in the EGC was found to vary considerably between the sections, ranging between 0.01 and 0.1 Sverdrup. Computations based on geostrophic as well as LADCP velocities give a section-averaged southward freshwater transport of 0.06 Sverdrup in the EGC during May 2002. Furthermore, Oden data suggest that the liquid freshwater transport was as large north of the Fram Strait as it was south of the Denmark Strait.

  • 2007. Olivier Marchal (et al.). Ocean Circulation: Mechanisms and Impacts, 33-52
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Senast uppdaterad: 7 januari 2018

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