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Observed Atmospheric Responses to Global SST Variability Modes: A Unified Assessment Using GEFA

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  • 1 Physical Oceanography Laboratory, and Ocean-Atmosphere Interaction and Climate Laboratory, Ocean University of China, Qingdao, China
  • | 2 Center for Climatic Research, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, and Physical Oceanography Laboratory, and Ocean-Atmosphere Interaction and Climate Laboratory, Ocean University of China, Qingdao, China
  • | 3 Physical Oceanography Laboratory, and Ocean-Atmosphere Interaction and Climate Laboratory, Ocean University of China, Qingdao, China
  • | 4 LOCEAN, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France
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Abstract

The authors present a comprehensive assessment of the observed atmospheric response to SST variability modes in a unified approach using the Generalized Equilibrium Feedback Analysis (GEFA). This study confirms a dominant atmospheric response to the tropical SST variability associated with ENSO. A further analysis shows that the classical response to ENSO consists of two parts, one responding to the tropical Pacific ENSO mode and the other to the tropical Indian Ocean monopole (IOM) mode. The Pacific ENSO generates a significant baroclinic Rossby wave response locally over the tropical Pacific as well as equivalent barotropic wave train responses remotely into the extratropics. The IOM mode forces a strongly zonally symmetric response throughout the tropics and the extratropics. Furthermore, modest atmospheric responses to other oceanic modes were identified. For example, the North Pacific SST variability mode appears to generate an equivalent barotropic warm SST-ridge response locally over the Aleutian low with significant downstream influence on the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), whereas the North Atlantic tripole SST mode tends to force a local response on NAO. Finally, this pilot study serves as a demonstration of the potential utility of GEFA in identifying multiple surface feedbacks to the atmosphere in the observation.

Corresponding author address: Z. Liu, 1225 W. Dayton St., Madison, WI 53706. Email: zliu3@wisc.edu

Abstract

The authors present a comprehensive assessment of the observed atmospheric response to SST variability modes in a unified approach using the Generalized Equilibrium Feedback Analysis (GEFA). This study confirms a dominant atmospheric response to the tropical SST variability associated with ENSO. A further analysis shows that the classical response to ENSO consists of two parts, one responding to the tropical Pacific ENSO mode and the other to the tropical Indian Ocean monopole (IOM) mode. The Pacific ENSO generates a significant baroclinic Rossby wave response locally over the tropical Pacific as well as equivalent barotropic wave train responses remotely into the extratropics. The IOM mode forces a strongly zonally symmetric response throughout the tropics and the extratropics. Furthermore, modest atmospheric responses to other oceanic modes were identified. For example, the North Pacific SST variability mode appears to generate an equivalent barotropic warm SST-ridge response locally over the Aleutian low with significant downstream influence on the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), whereas the North Atlantic tripole SST mode tends to force a local response on NAO. Finally, this pilot study serves as a demonstration of the potential utility of GEFA in identifying multiple surface feedbacks to the atmosphere in the observation.

Corresponding author address: Z. Liu, 1225 W. Dayton St., Madison, WI 53706. Email: zliu3@wisc.edu

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