Assessing the Importance of Prominent Warm SST Anomalies over the Midlatitude North Pacific in Forcing Large-Scale Atmospheric Anomalies during 2011 Summer and Autumn

Satoru Okajima Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

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Hisashi Nakamura Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo, and Research Institute for Global Change, JAMSTEC, Yokohama, Japan

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Kazuaki Nishii Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

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Takafumi Miyasaka Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

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Akira Kuwano-Yoshida Earth Simulator Center, JAMSTEC, Yokohama, Japan

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Abstract

Sets of atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) experiments are conducted to assess the importance of prominent positive anomalies in sea surface temperature (SST) observed over the midlatitude North Pacific in forcing a persistent basin-scale anticyclonic circulation anomaly and its downstream influence in 2011 summer and autumn. The anticyclonic anomaly observed in October is well reproduced as a robust response of an AGCM forced only with the warm SST anomaly associated with the poleward-shifted oceanic frontal zone in the midlatitude Pacific. The equivalent barotropic anticyclonic anomaly over the North Pacific is maintained under strong transient eddy feedback forcing associated with the poleward-deflected storm track. As the downstream influence of the anomaly, abnormal warmth and dryness observed over the northern United States and southern Canada in October are also reproduced to some extent. The corresponding AGCM response over the North Pacific to the tropical SST anomalies is similar but substantially weaker and less robust, suggesting the primary importance of the prominent midlatitude SST anomaly in forcing the large-scale atmospheric anomalies observed in October 2011. In contrast, the model reproduction of the atmospheric anomalies observed in summer was unsuccessful. This appears to arise from the fact that, unlike in October, the midlatitude SST anomalies accompanied reduction of heat and moisture release from the ocean, indicative of the atmospheric thermodynamic forcing on the SST anomalies. Furthermore, the distinct seasonality in the AGCM responses to the warm SST anomalies may also be contributed to by the seasonality of background westerlies and storm track.

Corresponding author address: Satoru Okajima, Research Center of Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo, 4-6-1 Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-8904, Japan. E-mail: okajima@atmos.rcast.u-tokyo.ac.jp

This article is included in the Climate Implications of Frontal Scale Air–Sea Interaction Special Collection.

Abstract

Sets of atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) experiments are conducted to assess the importance of prominent positive anomalies in sea surface temperature (SST) observed over the midlatitude North Pacific in forcing a persistent basin-scale anticyclonic circulation anomaly and its downstream influence in 2011 summer and autumn. The anticyclonic anomaly observed in October is well reproduced as a robust response of an AGCM forced only with the warm SST anomaly associated with the poleward-shifted oceanic frontal zone in the midlatitude Pacific. The equivalent barotropic anticyclonic anomaly over the North Pacific is maintained under strong transient eddy feedback forcing associated with the poleward-deflected storm track. As the downstream influence of the anomaly, abnormal warmth and dryness observed over the northern United States and southern Canada in October are also reproduced to some extent. The corresponding AGCM response over the North Pacific to the tropical SST anomalies is similar but substantially weaker and less robust, suggesting the primary importance of the prominent midlatitude SST anomaly in forcing the large-scale atmospheric anomalies observed in October 2011. In contrast, the model reproduction of the atmospheric anomalies observed in summer was unsuccessful. This appears to arise from the fact that, unlike in October, the midlatitude SST anomalies accompanied reduction of heat and moisture release from the ocean, indicative of the atmospheric thermodynamic forcing on the SST anomalies. Furthermore, the distinct seasonality in the AGCM responses to the warm SST anomalies may also be contributed to by the seasonality of background westerlies and storm track.

Corresponding author address: Satoru Okajima, Research Center of Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo, 4-6-1 Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-8904, Japan. E-mail: okajima@atmos.rcast.u-tokyo.ac.jp

This article is included in the Climate Implications of Frontal Scale Air–Sea Interaction Special Collection.

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