Ensembles of AGCM Two-Tier Predictions and Simulations of the Circulation Anomalies during Winter 1997–98

Farrara, John D.; Mechoso, Carlos R.; Robertson, Andrew W.

The impact of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies on the extratropical circulation during the El Niño winter of 1997–98 is studied through atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) integrations. The model's midlatitude response is found to be very robust, of the correct amplitude, and to have a fairly realistic spatial structure. The sensitivity of the results to different aspects of the anomalous distributions of SST is analyzed. It is found that the extratropical circulation in the North Pacific–North American sector is significantly different if SST anomalies over the Indian Ocean are included. Using a comparison of observed and simulated 200-hPa streamfunction anomalies, it is argued that the modeled midlatitude impact of Indian Ocean SST anomalies is largely realistic. However, while the local sensitivity of the atmosphere to small differences in SST anomalies in the tropical Pacific can be substantial, the remote sensitivity in midlatitudes is small. Consistently, there is little difference between the simulated extratropical circulation anomalies obtained using SSTs predicted by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction in October 1997 and those obtained using observed tropical Pacific SSTs. Neither is there any detectable atmospheric signal associated with SST anomalies over the North Pacific. Analyses of the results presented here suggest that the influence of SST anomalies in the Pacific and Indian Oceans during the selected ENSO event can be interpreted as the quasi-linear superposition of Rossby wave trains emanating from the subtropics of each ocean. An inspection of intraseasonal weather regimes suggests that the influence of tropical SST anomalies can also be described as a shift in the frequency of occurrence of the model's modes of intrinsic variability and a change in their amplitude. These findings suggest the potential utility of SST forecasts for the tropical Indian Ocean.

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International Research Institute for Climate and Society
Published Here
August 14, 2012