Impact of Great Salinity Anomalies on the Low-Frequency Variability of the North Atlantic Climate

Rong Zhang Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, and Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Program, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

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Geoffrey K. Vallis Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, and Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Program, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

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Abstract

In this paper, it is shown that coherent large-scale low-frequency variabilities in the North Atlantic Ocean—that is, the variations of thermohaline circulation, deep western boundary current, northern recirculation gyre, and Gulf Stream path—are associated with high-latitude oceanic Great Salinity Anomaly events. In particular, a dipolar sea surface temperature anomaly (warming off the U.S. east coast and cooling south of Greenland) can be triggered by the Great Salinity Anomaly events several years in advance, thus providing a degree of long-term predictability to the system. Diagnosed phase relationships among an observed proxy for Great Salinity Anomaly events, the Labrador Sea sea surface temperature anomaly, and the North Atlantic Oscillation are also discussed.

Corresponding author address: Rong Zhang, GFDL/AOS Program, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08542. Email: rong.zhang@noaa.gov

Abstract

In this paper, it is shown that coherent large-scale low-frequency variabilities in the North Atlantic Ocean—that is, the variations of thermohaline circulation, deep western boundary current, northern recirculation gyre, and Gulf Stream path—are associated with high-latitude oceanic Great Salinity Anomaly events. In particular, a dipolar sea surface temperature anomaly (warming off the U.S. east coast and cooling south of Greenland) can be triggered by the Great Salinity Anomaly events several years in advance, thus providing a degree of long-term predictability to the system. Diagnosed phase relationships among an observed proxy for Great Salinity Anomaly events, the Labrador Sea sea surface temperature anomaly, and the North Atlantic Oscillation are also discussed.

Corresponding author address: Rong Zhang, GFDL/AOS Program, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08542. Email: rong.zhang@noaa.gov

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