Reconsideration of the True versus Apparent Arctic Oscillation

Hisanori Itoh Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan

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Abstract

The physical reality of the Arctic Oscillation (AO; or northern annular mode) is considered. The data used are mainly the monthly mean sea level pressure (SLP).

A schematic figure is first presented to illustrate the relationship between the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)–Pacific–North American Oscillation (PNA) system and the AO–negative correlation mode between the Atlantic and the Pacific (AO–NCM) system. Although the NAO–PNA (apparent AO–NCM) and true AO–NCM systems give rise to the same EOFs, the probability density functions for the time coefficients of the two leading modes are different. Therefore, the discrimination of the two systems is possible. Several pieces of evidence indicate that, in the real world, the NAO–PNA and the AO–NCM are located on almost the same plane in phase space. This means that the NAO–PNA and AO–NCM systems have the same variations on the plane in common, implying that when the NAO–PNA system is real, the AO–NCM is unlikely to be real. Simple independent component analysis is carried out to distinguish between the true and apparent AO–NCM systems, indicating that the NAO and PNA are independent oscillations, that is, true ones.

The analysis is extended to the winter mean SLP field, for which the EOF shows the NAO–PNA but not the AO–NCM. This may be due to the fact that the winter mean NAO and PNA patterns have little spatial correlation. Calculations using randomly selected samples also indicate that when the NAO and PNA patterns have little spatial correlation, the AO never appears as EOF1.

All the preceding results show that almost all characteristics of the AO–NCM can be explained from those of the NAO–PNA. Hence it is concluded that the AO, which is extracted by EOF analysis from the temporarily independent but spatially overlapping variations of the NAO and PNA, is almost apparent.

Corresponding author address: Prof. Hisanori Itoh, Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka 812-8581, Japan. Email: itoh@weather.geo.kyushu-u.ac.jp

Abstract

The physical reality of the Arctic Oscillation (AO; or northern annular mode) is considered. The data used are mainly the monthly mean sea level pressure (SLP).

A schematic figure is first presented to illustrate the relationship between the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)–Pacific–North American Oscillation (PNA) system and the AO–negative correlation mode between the Atlantic and the Pacific (AO–NCM) system. Although the NAO–PNA (apparent AO–NCM) and true AO–NCM systems give rise to the same EOFs, the probability density functions for the time coefficients of the two leading modes are different. Therefore, the discrimination of the two systems is possible. Several pieces of evidence indicate that, in the real world, the NAO–PNA and the AO–NCM are located on almost the same plane in phase space. This means that the NAO–PNA and AO–NCM systems have the same variations on the plane in common, implying that when the NAO–PNA system is real, the AO–NCM is unlikely to be real. Simple independent component analysis is carried out to distinguish between the true and apparent AO–NCM systems, indicating that the NAO and PNA are independent oscillations, that is, true ones.

The analysis is extended to the winter mean SLP field, for which the EOF shows the NAO–PNA but not the AO–NCM. This may be due to the fact that the winter mean NAO and PNA patterns have little spatial correlation. Calculations using randomly selected samples also indicate that when the NAO and PNA patterns have little spatial correlation, the AO never appears as EOF1.

All the preceding results show that almost all characteristics of the AO–NCM can be explained from those of the NAO–PNA. Hence it is concluded that the AO, which is extracted by EOF analysis from the temporarily independent but spatially overlapping variations of the NAO and PNA, is almost apparent.

Corresponding author address: Prof. Hisanori Itoh, Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka 812-8581, Japan. Email: itoh@weather.geo.kyushu-u.ac.jp

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