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Overturning circulation, density gradients, stable nodes, bifurcation


Mathematics | Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Science and Mathematics Education


The ocean plays a major role in our climate system and in climate change. In this article we present a conceptual model of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), an important component of the ocean's global energy transport circulation that has, in recent times, been weakening anomalously. Introduced by Henry Stommel, the model results in a two-dimensional system of first order ODEs, which we explore via Mathematica. The model exhibits two stable regimes, one having an orientation aligned with today's AMOC, and the other corresponding to a reversal of the AMOC. This material is appropriate for a junior-level mathematical modeling or applied dynamical systems course.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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