The Atlantic and Pacific basin are found linked in the context of multidecadal SST variability from analyses of 118 years of observational data. Recurrent spatiotemporal variability, including multidecadal modes, was identified using the extended-EOF technique in a longitudinally global domain, allowing unfettered expression of interbasin interactions. The physicality of the obtained decadal modes was assessed using fishery records and analog counts.

A three-mode structure with bi-directional interbasin links frames the new perspective on the cycling of multidecadal SST variability. The three modes are the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO), low-frequency North Atlantic Oscillation (LF-NAO), and North Pacific decadal variability [PDV-NP; resembling negative (–ve) PDO]. The two previously documented links AMO→PDV-NP (with ~12.5-yr lead) and LF-NAO→AMO (with 16-yr lead) are corroborated, while a third one, PDV-NP→(−LF-NAO) with ~6.5-yr lead, is uncovered. The interaction triad closes the loop on the cycling of multidecadal SST variability, generating AMO’s phase reversal in ~35 years, consistent with its widely noted ~70-yr time scale. The two previously noted links—one intrabasin and one interbasin—were unsuccessful in this regard.

Other findings include the deeper subsurface extensions of Atlantic multidecadal SST variability, and the hitherto unrecognized similarity of Pan-Pacific decadal variability and North Pacific Gyre Oscillation. Instrumental records, albeit short in the context of multidecadal variability, must continue to be mined for insights into the functioning of the climate system as its model representations while improving, remain inadequate.

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