Past cooling events in the Northern Hemisphere have been shown to impact the location of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) and therewith induce a southward shift of tropical precipitation. Here we use high resolution coupled ocean-atmosphere simulations to show that reasonable past melt rates of the Antarctic Ice Sheet can similarly have led to shifts of the ITCZ, albeit in opposite direction, through large-scale surface air temperature changes over the Southern Ocean. Through sensitivity experiments employing slightly negative to large positive meltwater fluxes, we deduce that meridional shifts of the Hadley cell and therewith the ITCZ are, to a first order, a linear response to Southern Hemisphere high-latitude surface air temperature changes and Antarctic Ice Sheet melt rates. This highlights the possibility to use past episodes of anomalous melt rates to better constrain a possible future response of low latitude precipitation to continued global warming and a shrinking Antarctic Ice Sheet.
- Antarctic ice sheet
- Southern Ocean