China has made new progress in the field of eastern ocean flow and climate change

Recently, the scientific research team of Ocean University of China, led by Wu Lixin, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has made a series of important progress in the field of eastern ocean current and climate change. For the first time, the team used high-resolution Earth system models to reveal the response and control mechanism of the upwelling system of the main eastern boundary of the world ocean to global warming, changing the traditional understanding of this scientific problem. The international authoritative academic journals Nature Communications and Nature Climate Change reported the research results online.

With less than 2 per cent of the world’s eastern boundary upwelling system, it contributes 7 per cent of global primary productivity and 20 per cent of catches. Elucidating the evolutionary characteristics and regulatory mechanism of the upwelling system of the eastern boundary under the background of global warming is of great significance for understanding the health of marine ecosystems and the sustainable development of human society.

Future trends in SST and marine heatwave intensity in upwelling systems on the eastern boundary (relative to adjacent open oceans)

This study uses the high-resolution Earth system model developed by Ocean University of China and combined with CMIP6 multi-model data to comprehensively analyze the response to climate change in the world’s four major eastern boundary upwelling systems (California, Canary, Benguela and Peru) for the first time. The results show that although the offshore Ekman transport caused by the wind farm plays a decisive role in the climate average state intensity of the upwelling, the long-term change trend of the upflow is no longer dominated by the wind field change, but is controlled by the transport change caused by the ground transfer. In addition, the study further suggests that while the increase in sea surface temperature is slower in the northern hemisphere upwelling system relative to the open ocean, the opposite is true for the southern hemisphere upwelling system. The latter is mainly due to the weakening of the cold advection caused by the weakening of the eastern boundary flow itself. The weakening of the eastern boundary flow in the southern hemisphere is related to the weakening of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and basin-scale wind field changes.

?The regulatory effect of geotransit transport on the long-term change of upwelling intensity in the eastern boundary in the future

The above findings have changed the traditional understanding of the response and control mechanism of the eastern boundary upwelling system to global warming, revealed the “hot spot” phenomenon of the eastern boundary upwelling system in the southern hemisphere, and provided scientific support for addressing the impact of climate change on the eastern boundary upwelling system.

This research result is another important progress made by the team in this research field after discovering the global western boundary current hot spot phenomenon caused by climate change in 2012 and proposing the maintenance mechanism of mesoscale vortex on the ocean front of the western boundary current in 2020, which is of great significance for promoting the observation, theory and prediction of the oceanic boundary current, and in-depth understanding of the response and feedback effect of the ocean boundary current system to climate change.

(Photo courtesy of Ocean University of China)
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