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The Intra-Americas Springtime Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly Dipole as Fingerprint of Remote Influences

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  • 1 Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, Florida
  • | 2 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Miami, Florida
  • | 3 Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, Florida
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Abstract

The influence of teleconnections on the Intra-Americas Sea (IAS; Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea) has been mostly analyzed from the perspective of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on the Caribbean Sea (the latter being an extension of the tropical North Atlantic). This emphasis has overlooked both 1) the influence of other teleconnections on the IAS and 2) which teleconnections affect the Gulf of Mexico climate variability. In this study the different fingerprints that major teleconnection patterns have on the IAS during boreal spring are analyzed. Indices of teleconnection patterns are regressed and correlated to observations of oceanic temperature and atmospheric data from reanalyses and observational datasets. It is found that the Pacific teleconnection patterns that influence the IAS SSTs do so by affecting the Gulf of Mexico in an opposite manner to the Caribbean Sea. These analyzed Pacific climate patterns are the Pacific–North American (PNA) teleconnection, the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO), and ENSO. The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is related to a lesser degree with the north–south SST anomaly dipole than are Pacific teleconnection patterns. It is also found that the IAS influence from the midlatitude Pacific mostly affects the Gulf of Mexico, whereas the influence from the tropical Pacific mostly affects the Caribbean Sea. Therefore, the combination of a warm ENSO event and a positive PNA event induces a strong IAS SST anomaly dipole between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea during spring.

By calculating an index that represents the IAS SST anomaly dipole, it is found that the dipole forms mostly in response to changes in the air–sea heat fluxes. In the Gulf of Mexico the dominant mechanisms are the air–sea differences in humidity and temperature. The changes in shortwave radiation also contribute to the dipole of net air–sea heat flux. The changes in shortwave radiation arise, in part, by the cloudiness triggered by the air–sea differences in humidity, and also by the changes in the convection cell that connects the Amazon basin to the IAS. Weaker Amazon convection (e.g., in the event of a warm ENSO event) reduces the subsidence over the IAS, and henceforth the IAS cloudiness increases (and the shortwave radiation decreases). This study contributes to a greater understanding of how the IAS is influenced by different Pacific and Atlantic teleconnections.

Corresponding author address: Ernesto Muñoz, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, CIMAS/RSMAS, University of Miami, Miami, FL 33149. Email: ernesto.munoz@noaa.gov

Abstract

The influence of teleconnections on the Intra-Americas Sea (IAS; Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea) has been mostly analyzed from the perspective of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on the Caribbean Sea (the latter being an extension of the tropical North Atlantic). This emphasis has overlooked both 1) the influence of other teleconnections on the IAS and 2) which teleconnections affect the Gulf of Mexico climate variability. In this study the different fingerprints that major teleconnection patterns have on the IAS during boreal spring are analyzed. Indices of teleconnection patterns are regressed and correlated to observations of oceanic temperature and atmospheric data from reanalyses and observational datasets. It is found that the Pacific teleconnection patterns that influence the IAS SSTs do so by affecting the Gulf of Mexico in an opposite manner to the Caribbean Sea. These analyzed Pacific climate patterns are the Pacific–North American (PNA) teleconnection, the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO), and ENSO. The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is related to a lesser degree with the north–south SST anomaly dipole than are Pacific teleconnection patterns. It is also found that the IAS influence from the midlatitude Pacific mostly affects the Gulf of Mexico, whereas the influence from the tropical Pacific mostly affects the Caribbean Sea. Therefore, the combination of a warm ENSO event and a positive PNA event induces a strong IAS SST anomaly dipole between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea during spring.

By calculating an index that represents the IAS SST anomaly dipole, it is found that the dipole forms mostly in response to changes in the air–sea heat fluxes. In the Gulf of Mexico the dominant mechanisms are the air–sea differences in humidity and temperature. The changes in shortwave radiation also contribute to the dipole of net air–sea heat flux. The changes in shortwave radiation arise, in part, by the cloudiness triggered by the air–sea differences in humidity, and also by the changes in the convection cell that connects the Amazon basin to the IAS. Weaker Amazon convection (e.g., in the event of a warm ENSO event) reduces the subsidence over the IAS, and henceforth the IAS cloudiness increases (and the shortwave radiation decreases). This study contributes to a greater understanding of how the IAS is influenced by different Pacific and Atlantic teleconnections.

Corresponding author address: Ernesto Muñoz, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, CIMAS/RSMAS, University of Miami, Miami, FL 33149. Email: ernesto.munoz@noaa.gov

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