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Detection of AMOC changes and their potential impact on sea level and storm surges over the  U.S. East Coast

Flooded neighborhood in South Carolina
South Carolina National Guard

Liping Zhang and Hiroyuki Murakami, scientists at the NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, have been awarded funding for their climate projections project, “Detection of AMOC changes and their potential impact on sea level and storm surges over the  U.S. East Coast.”

In a new project, researchers spotlight the critical issue of Extreme Sea Level (ESL) events along the U.S. East Coast, emphasizing their societal impact. These events, often fueled by storm surges during extreme weather occurrences, substantially threaten lives and infrastructure in coastal regions. The study zeroes in on the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) as a key player in influencing mean sea level variations and weather events. By employing a comprehensive approach that incorporates observations, sophisticated simulations, and extensive datasets, the researchers aim to discern the intricate links between AMOC, sea level changes, and weather patterns, particularly on decadal timescales. The ultimate goal is to develop predictive capabilities for sea level changes, offering valuable insights that can inform strategies to mitigate the impact of ESL events on the U.S. East Coast.

This project’s significance extends beyond scientific inquiry, directly addressing societal concerns related to coastal inundation. Aligned with the Climate Program Office’s priority to produce user-driven outcomes, the research aims to enhance our understanding of the reversibility of changes in ESL events and predict mean sea level characteristics over multiyear to decadal timescales. The anticipated outcomes promise valuable contributions to the improvement of predictive skills and a deeper understanding of the complex interplay between AMOC and ESL events, crucial for informed decision-making in coastal regions. Hiroyuki Murakami will also serve as co-lead of the Projections Task Force, an initiative to enhance engagement across the climate projections teams

Funding for this project is provided by the NOAA Climate Program Office, MAPP program.

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