The Association between ENSO and Winter Atmospheric Circulation and Temperature in the North Atlantic Region

D. Pozo-Vázquez Departmento de Física, Universidad de Jaén, Jaen, Spain

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M. J. Esteban-Parra Departmento de Física Aplicada, Universidad de Granada, Granada, Spain

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F. S. Rodrigo Departmento de Física Aplicada, Universidad de Almería, Almeria, Spain

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Y. Castro-Díez Departmento de Física Aplicada, Universidad de Granada, Granada, Spain

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Abstract

The association among ENSO, the Northern Hemisphere sea level pressure (SLP), and temperatures in Europe has been analyzed during the period 1873–1995. In the first part, the SST of the Niño-3 region has been used to select extreme cold and warm ENSO events and periods that can be regarded as normal. The study was carried out for winter with the constraints that the ENSO events were well developed during the winter of study, and that they are extreme events. Composites of winter SLP and temperatures have been made for the selected cold and warm events as well as for normal cases and compared with each other. In the North Atlantic area, no statistically significant SLP anomaly patterns were found associated with warm events, while during cold events a statistically significant anomaly pattern resembling the positive phase of the North Atlantic oscillation (NAO) was found. The temperature analysis shows statistically significant negative anomalies during cold events over the Iberian Peninsula and positive anomalies over the British Isles and southern Scandinavia, consistent with the SLP anomalies. The SLP and temperatures have also been analyzed for spring. The patterns resemble those found for winter but the anomalies have lower amplitudes. For the completion of the composite analysis, the consistency among events of the relationship between ENSO and SLP as well as between ENSO and temperatures was examined. The results show that the significant patterns found in the composite analysis in the North Atlantic area are not the result of a few major events, but rather because both the SLP and temperature anomalies in this area during cold ENSO events are stable and qualitatively similar to those found during the positive phase of the NAO. The possible physical basis for this association between NAO and ENSO is discussed.

Corresponding author address: David Pozo-Vázquez, Departmento de Física Aplicada, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada, Avd. Fuentenueva s/n, 18071 Granada, Spain. Email: dpozo@ugr.es

Abstract

The association among ENSO, the Northern Hemisphere sea level pressure (SLP), and temperatures in Europe has been analyzed during the period 1873–1995. In the first part, the SST of the Niño-3 region has been used to select extreme cold and warm ENSO events and periods that can be regarded as normal. The study was carried out for winter with the constraints that the ENSO events were well developed during the winter of study, and that they are extreme events. Composites of winter SLP and temperatures have been made for the selected cold and warm events as well as for normal cases and compared with each other. In the North Atlantic area, no statistically significant SLP anomaly patterns were found associated with warm events, while during cold events a statistically significant anomaly pattern resembling the positive phase of the North Atlantic oscillation (NAO) was found. The temperature analysis shows statistically significant negative anomalies during cold events over the Iberian Peninsula and positive anomalies over the British Isles and southern Scandinavia, consistent with the SLP anomalies. The SLP and temperatures have also been analyzed for spring. The patterns resemble those found for winter but the anomalies have lower amplitudes. For the completion of the composite analysis, the consistency among events of the relationship between ENSO and SLP as well as between ENSO and temperatures was examined. The results show that the significant patterns found in the composite analysis in the North Atlantic area are not the result of a few major events, but rather because both the SLP and temperature anomalies in this area during cold ENSO events are stable and qualitatively similar to those found during the positive phase of the NAO. The possible physical basis for this association between NAO and ENSO is discussed.

Corresponding author address: David Pozo-Vázquez, Departmento de Física Aplicada, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada, Avd. Fuentenueva s/n, 18071 Granada, Spain. Email: dpozo@ugr.es

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