We examine the role of the vegetation cover and the associated hydrological cycle on the deep ocean circulation during the Late Miocene (~10 million years ago). In our simulations, an open Central American gateway and exchange with fresh Pacific waters leads to a weak and shallow thermohaline circulation in the North Atlantic Ocean which is consistent with most other modeling studies for this time period. Here, we estimate the effect of a changed vegetation cover on the ocean general circulation using atmospheric circulation model simulations for the late Miocene climate with 353 ppmv CO2 level. The Late Miocene land surface cover reduces the albedo, the net evaporation in the North Atlantic catchment is affected and the North Atlantic water becomes more saline leading to a more vigorous North Atlantic Deep Water circulation. These effects reveal potentially important feedbacks between the ocean circulation, the hydrological cycle and the land surface cover for Cenozoic climate evolution.
AWI Organizations > Climate Sciences > Paleo-climate Dynamics