We demonstrate for the first time a direct oceanic link between climate‐driven change in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans and the circulation of the northwest European shelf seas. Downscaled scenarios show a shutdown of the exchange between the Atlantic and the North Sea and a substantial decrease in the circulation of the North Sea in the second half of the 21st century. The northern North Sea inflow decreases from 1.2–1.3 Sv (1 Sv = 106 m3/s) to 0.0–0.6 Sv with Atlantic water largely bypassing the North Sea. This is traced to changes in oceanic haline stratification and gyre structure and to a newly identified circulation‐salinity feedback. The scenario presented here is of a novel potential future state for the North Sea, with wide‐ranging environmental management and societal impacts. Specifically, the sea would become more estuarine and susceptible to anthropogenic influence with an enhanced risk of coastal eutrophication.
- marine climate change impacts
- ocean circulation
- regional seas
- coastal-ocean modelling
- geostrophic dynamics
- marine ecosystems
Holt, J., Polton, J., Huthnance, J., Wakelin, S., O'dea, E., Harle, J., ... Inall, M. (2018). Climate-Driven Change in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans Can Greatly Reduce the Circulation of the North Sea. Geophysical Research Letters, 45(21), 11,827 - 11,836. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018GL078878