The Influence of Atlantic Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies on the North Atlantic Oscillation

Robertson, Andrew W.; Mechoso, Carlos R.; Kim, Young-Joon

The influence of Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies on the atmospheric circulation over the North Atlantic sector during winter is investigated by performing experiments with an atmospheric general circulation model. These consist of a 30-yr run with observed SST anomalies for the period 1961–90 confined geographically to the Atlantic Ocean, and of a control run with climatological SSTs prescribed globally. A third 30-yr integration with observed SSTs confined to the South Atlantic is made to confirm present findings. The simulated interannual variance of 500-hPa wintertime geopotential heights over the North Atlantic attains much more realistic values when observed Atlantic SSTs are prescribed. Circulation patterns that resemble the positive phase of the North Atlantic oscillation (NAO) become more pronounced in terms of the leading EOF of winter means, and a cluster analysis of daily fields. The variance of an interannual NAO index increases by fivefold over its control value. Atlantic SST variability is also found to produce an appreciable rectified response in the December–February time mean. Interannual fluctuations in the simulated NAO are found to be significantly correlated with SST anomalies over the tropical and subtropical South Atlantic. These SST anomalies are accompanied by displacements in the simulated summer monsoonal circulation over South America and the cross-equatorial regional Hadley circulation.

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Academic Units
International Research Institute for Climate and Society
American Meteorological Society
Published Here
August 14, 2012