KlimaCampus Kolloquium: Understanding the response of the ocean's global overturning to global warming: A robust blueprint for trustworthy AI for climate analysis

The global ocean overturning is central to the health of the planet, but open questions about what drives the circulation hinder our understanding and ability to monitor changes. Climate models suggest that the circulation is changing, but the physical drivers are poorly constrained. Here, artificial intelligence is used to both construct hypotheses to gain new theoretical understanding of the upwelling and to design a monitoring framework. Explicitly transparent, the monitoring method Tracking global Heating with Ocean Regimes (THOR), reveals key mechanisms and is used to track changes in dynamics associated with the overturning using only the sea surface height, wind stress curl and depth. Here, we will focus on the North Atlantic and Southern Ocean, specifically the location of the Gulf Stream, Trans Atlantic Current and downwelling regions, as well as the gyre-like circulation that modulates upwelling in the Southern Ocean. With abrupt CO2 quadrupling, the North Atlantic overturning circulation weakens due to a shift in deep water formation regions, a northward shift of the Gulf Stream and an eastward shift in the Trans Atlantic Current. In the Southern Ocean, the overturning increases with an expansion of the dynamical regime associated with upwelling. If CO2 is increased 1% yearly, similar but weaker patterns emerge influenced by natural variability. THOR demonstrates a path to progress in oceanographic problems that have resisted classical analysis. Beyond a black box approach, THOR is engineered to elucidate its source of predictive skill rooted in physical understanding, and the talk concludes with an outlook on the inherently transparent THOR methodology with its demonstrable rooting in physics. THOR constitutes a blueprint and a step toward trustworthy artificial intelligence called for within oceanography and beyond.




13:30 h


Bundesstr. 53, room 022/023
Seminar Room 022/023, Ground Floor, Bundesstrasse 53, 20146 Hamburg, Hamburg


Maike Sonnewald, Princeton University and NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory


Jochem Marotzke

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