We examine the effect of the deepening of the Tasman Seaway at the end of the Eocene in a climate model with realistic late Eocene bathymetry and winds. For this, we have constructed an Eocene numerical model based on the University of Victoria climate model with wind forcing derived from a fully coupled Eocene simulation. The model climate state is characterized by an oceanic meridional overturning circulation (MOC) involving Southern Hemisphere sinking and a northward atmospheric moisture transport across the equator. The deepening of the Tasman Seaway in the presence of an open Drake Passage and the associated establishment of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) have a limited climatic impact on Antarctica. Nonetheless, the Antarctic deep sinking regions cool sufficiently to lead to a global deep ocean cooling of 3°C. No initiation of Northern Component Water is found, indicating that this may require the development of a more mature ACC. Previous studies suggest that the Ross Sea gyre cools the east coast of Australia, and expected the deepening of the Tasman Seaway to lead to a warming east of Australia due to the introduction of warmer water from the Australo-Antarctic Gulf. We here find that this warming is limited to close to the Australian coast, and that widespread cooling prevails further off shore.


Manuscript received: 18 March 2011

Manuscript accepted: 21 July 2011

Version of record online: 25 October 2011

DOI: 10.1029/2011PA002143

Date of this Version