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Observed Antarctic Interannual Climate Variability and Tropical Linkages

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  • 1 Climate and Global Dynamics Division, Earth System Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

This study reviews the mechanisms associated with Antarctic–tropical climate linkages and presents new analyses of the seasonality and spatial patterns of tropical climate signals in the Antarctic for the late 1950s to the present. Tropical climate signals are primarily communicated to the Antarctic via the Pacific–South America (PSA) pattern and the southern annular mode (SAM). The impacts of these circulation patterns and their tropical linkages are evident in regressions of seasonally stratified Antarctic station temperature data and annually resolved ice core records on global fields of sea surface temperature, sea level pressure, and precipitation. Temperature and ice core anomalies in the Antarctic Peninsula region and adjoining areas of West Antarctica are significantly impacted by the PSA, interpreted as a Rossby wave train driven by anomalous tropical deep convection during ENSO events. This pattern is most evident in the austral spring, consistent with recent studies, suggesting that atmospheric conditions for Rossby wave propagation are most favorable during this season. During austral summer at the peak of the ENSO cycle, temperature anomalies at East Antarctic coastal stations exhibit significant correlations with tropical Pacific anomalies. This linkage reflects the influence of anomalous tropical heating on the position and strength of the subtropical jets and is consistent with changes in eddy momentum fluxes that alter the mean meridional circulation associated with the SAM. Of the ice cores that exhibit tropical linkages, most tend to be associated with the PSA teleconnection. The implications of the study’s findings for understanding Antarctic climate variability and climate change from seasonal to decadal time scales are also discussed.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: David P. Schneider, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, Earth System Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000. E-mail: dschneid@ucar.edu

Abstract

This study reviews the mechanisms associated with Antarctic–tropical climate linkages and presents new analyses of the seasonality and spatial patterns of tropical climate signals in the Antarctic for the late 1950s to the present. Tropical climate signals are primarily communicated to the Antarctic via the Pacific–South America (PSA) pattern and the southern annular mode (SAM). The impacts of these circulation patterns and their tropical linkages are evident in regressions of seasonally stratified Antarctic station temperature data and annually resolved ice core records on global fields of sea surface temperature, sea level pressure, and precipitation. Temperature and ice core anomalies in the Antarctic Peninsula region and adjoining areas of West Antarctica are significantly impacted by the PSA, interpreted as a Rossby wave train driven by anomalous tropical deep convection during ENSO events. This pattern is most evident in the austral spring, consistent with recent studies, suggesting that atmospheric conditions for Rossby wave propagation are most favorable during this season. During austral summer at the peak of the ENSO cycle, temperature anomalies at East Antarctic coastal stations exhibit significant correlations with tropical Pacific anomalies. This linkage reflects the influence of anomalous tropical heating on the position and strength of the subtropical jets and is consistent with changes in eddy momentum fluxes that alter the mean meridional circulation associated with the SAM. Of the ice cores that exhibit tropical linkages, most tend to be associated with the PSA teleconnection. The implications of the study’s findings for understanding Antarctic climate variability and climate change from seasonal to decadal time scales are also discussed.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: David P. Schneider, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, Earth System Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000. E-mail: dschneid@ucar.edu
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