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The Interannual Variability of Energy Transports within and over the Atlantic Ocean in a Coupled Climate Model

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
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Abstract

To gain a new perspective on the interaction of the Atlantic Ocean and the atmosphere, the relationship between the atmospheric and oceanic meridional energy transports is studied in a version of HadCM3, the U.K. Hadley Centre's coupled climate model. The correlation structure of the energy transports in the atmosphere and Atlantic Ocean as a function of latitude, and the cross correlation between the two systems are analyzed. The processes that give rise to the correlations are then elucidated using regression analyses.

In northern midlatitudes, the interannual variability of the Atlantic Ocean energy transport is dominated by Ekman processes. Anticorrelated zonal winds in the subtropics and midlatitudes, particularly associated with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), drive anticorrelated meridional Ekman transports. Variability in the atmospheric energy transport is associated with changes in the stationary waves, but is only weakly related to the NAO. Nevertheless, atmospheric driving of the oceanic Ekman transports is responsible for a bipolar pattern in the correlation between the atmosphere and Atlantic Ocean energy transports.

In the Tropics, the interannual variability of the Atlantic Ocean energy transport is dominated by an adjustment of the tropical ocean to coastal upwelling induced along the Venezuelan coast by a strengthening of the easterly trade winds. Variability in the atmospheric energy transport is associated with a cross-equatorial meridional overturning circulation that is only weakly associated with variability in the trade winds along the Venezuelan coast. In consequence, there is only very limited correlation between the atmosphere and Atlantic Ocean energy transports in the Tropics of HadCM3.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Len Shaffrey, CGAM, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Room 3L68, Earley Gate, Reading RG6 6BB, United Kingdom. Email: L.C.Shaffrey@reading.ac.uk

Abstract

To gain a new perspective on the interaction of the Atlantic Ocean and the atmosphere, the relationship between the atmospheric and oceanic meridional energy transports is studied in a version of HadCM3, the U.K. Hadley Centre's coupled climate model. The correlation structure of the energy transports in the atmosphere and Atlantic Ocean as a function of latitude, and the cross correlation between the two systems are analyzed. The processes that give rise to the correlations are then elucidated using regression analyses.

In northern midlatitudes, the interannual variability of the Atlantic Ocean energy transport is dominated by Ekman processes. Anticorrelated zonal winds in the subtropics and midlatitudes, particularly associated with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), drive anticorrelated meridional Ekman transports. Variability in the atmospheric energy transport is associated with changes in the stationary waves, but is only weakly related to the NAO. Nevertheless, atmospheric driving of the oceanic Ekman transports is responsible for a bipolar pattern in the correlation between the atmosphere and Atlantic Ocean energy transports.

In the Tropics, the interannual variability of the Atlantic Ocean energy transport is dominated by an adjustment of the tropical ocean to coastal upwelling induced along the Venezuelan coast by a strengthening of the easterly trade winds. Variability in the atmospheric energy transport is associated with a cross-equatorial meridional overturning circulation that is only weakly associated with variability in the trade winds along the Venezuelan coast. In consequence, there is only very limited correlation between the atmosphere and Atlantic Ocean energy transports in the Tropics of HadCM3.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Len Shaffrey, CGAM, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Room 3L68, Earley Gate, Reading RG6 6BB, United Kingdom. Email: L.C.Shaffrey@reading.ac.uk

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