Multiscale Variability in North American Summer Maximum Temperatures and Modulations from the North Atlantic Simulated by an AGCM

Vigaud, Nicolas; Ting, Mingfang; Lee, Dong Eun; Barnston, Anthony G.; Kushnir, Yochanan

Six recurrent thermal regimes are identified over continental North America from June to September through a k-means clustering applied to daily maximum temperature simulated by ECHAM5 forced by his- torical SSTs for 1930–2013 and validated using NCEP–DOE AMIP-II reanalysis over the 1980–2009 period. Four regimes are related to a synoptic wave pattern propagating eastward in the midlatitudes with embedded ridging anomalies that translate into maximum warming transiting along. Two other regimes, associated with broad continental warming and above average temperatures in the northeastern United States, respectively, are characterized by ridging anomalies over North America, Europe, and Asia that suggest correlated heat wave occurrences in these regions. Their frequencies are mainly related to both La Niña and warm conditions in the North Atlantic. Removing all variability beyond the seasonal cycle in the North Atlantic in ECHAM5 leads to a significant drop in the occurrences of the regime associated with warming in the northeastern United States. Superimposing positive (negative) anomalies mimicking the Atlantic multidecadal variability (AMV) in the North Atlantic translates into more (less) warming over the United States across all regimes, and does alter regime frequencies but less significantly. Regime frequency changes are thus primarily controlled by Atlantic SST variability on all time scales beyond the seasonal cycle, rather than mean SST changes, whereas the in- tensity of temperature anomalies is impacted by AMV SST forcing, because of upper-tropospheric warming and enhanced stability suppressing rising motion during the positive phase of the AMV.

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Journal of Climate