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Linearity of the Atmospheric Response to North Atlantic SST and Sea Ice Anomalies

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  • 1 Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, Paris, France
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Abstract

The observations of the ocean–atmosphere–sea ice have recently revealed that the oceanic surfaces can have a subtle but significant impact on the atmospheric long-term fluctuations. Low-frequency variations and long-term trends of the North Atlantic atmospheric circulation have been partly related to particular SST and sea ice features. In this work, the influence of typical tripolar SST and dipolar sea ice anomalies in the North Atlantic–Arctic on the atmosphere is investigated. A large ensemble of AGCM simulations forced by three different anomalous boundary conditions (SST, sea ice, and SST + sea ice) are used. The linearity of the simulated response in the winter season is particularly assessed.

In these experiments, while the winter low-level temperature response is mainly symmetric about the sign of the forcing, the asymmetric part of the geopotential response is substantial. The sea ice forcing maintains a baroclinic response with a strong temperature anomaly in the vicinity of the forcing but with a weak vertical penetration. The SST maintains an NAO-like equivalent barotropic temperature and geopotential height response that extends throughout the troposphere. It is also shown that the combination of the two forcings is mainly linear for the low-level temperature and nonlinear for the geopotential height. While the SST forcing seems to be the main contributor to the total temperature and geopotential height responses, the sea ice forcing appears to introduce significant nonlinear perturbations.

* Current affiliation: Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California

Corresponding author address: Sébastien Conil, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, 405 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90095-1565. Email: conil@atmos.ucla.edu

Abstract

The observations of the ocean–atmosphere–sea ice have recently revealed that the oceanic surfaces can have a subtle but significant impact on the atmospheric long-term fluctuations. Low-frequency variations and long-term trends of the North Atlantic atmospheric circulation have been partly related to particular SST and sea ice features. In this work, the influence of typical tripolar SST and dipolar sea ice anomalies in the North Atlantic–Arctic on the atmosphere is investigated. A large ensemble of AGCM simulations forced by three different anomalous boundary conditions (SST, sea ice, and SST + sea ice) are used. The linearity of the simulated response in the winter season is particularly assessed.

In these experiments, while the winter low-level temperature response is mainly symmetric about the sign of the forcing, the asymmetric part of the geopotential response is substantial. The sea ice forcing maintains a baroclinic response with a strong temperature anomaly in the vicinity of the forcing but with a weak vertical penetration. The SST maintains an NAO-like equivalent barotropic temperature and geopotential height response that extends throughout the troposphere. It is also shown that the combination of the two forcings is mainly linear for the low-level temperature and nonlinear for the geopotential height. While the SST forcing seems to be the main contributor to the total temperature and geopotential height responses, the sea ice forcing appears to introduce significant nonlinear perturbations.

* Current affiliation: Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California

Corresponding author address: Sébastien Conil, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, 405 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90095-1565. Email: conil@atmos.ucla.edu

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