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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research project: RAPID-MOC (Meridional Overturning Circulation)

Currently Active: 

There is a northward transport of heat throughout the Atlantic, reaching a maximum of 1.3PW (25% of the global heat flux) around 24.5°N. The heat transport is a balance of the northward flux of a warm Gulf Stream, and a southward flux of cooler thermocline and cold North Atlantic Deep Water that is known as the meridional overturning circulation (MOC).

The heat transported by the MOC is given off to the atmosphere and much of it is carried eastward by westerly winds. This is an important contribution to northwestern Europe's mild climate. Numerical models suggest that the MOC is likely to weaken by about 30% in the coming century as a consequence of greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, paleoclimate records suggest that during the last Ice Age the MOC has undergone abrupt rearrangements that were responsible for a cooling of European climate of between 5-10°C.

A principal objective of the RAPID programme is the development and maintenance of a pre-operational prototype system that will continuously observe the strength and structure of the MOC.

More details on this initiative are on:, and

This is a collaborative project involving researchers from Germany (Max-Planck-Institut fur Meteorologie), UK (National Oceanography Centre Southampton; SOES, University of Southampton), USA (Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory; Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric ScienceUniversity of Miami).

PI for SOES: Professor Harry Bryden

Funding agencies include UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and US National Science Foundation (NSF).

PhDs and Other Opportunities


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