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Hyacinth C. Nnamchi, Jianping Li, Fred Kucharski, In-Sik Kang, Noel S. Keenlyside, Ping Chang, and Riccardo Farneti

Abstract

Equatorial Atlantic variability is dominated by the Atlantic Niño peaking during the boreal summer. Studies have shown robust links of the Atlantic Niño to fluctuations of the St. Helena subtropical anticyclone and Benguela Niño events. Furthermore, the occurrence of opposite sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the eastern equatorial and southwestern extratropical South Atlantic Ocean (SAO), also peaking in boreal summer, has recently been identified and termed the SAO dipole (SAOD). However, the extent to which and how the Atlantic Niño and SAOD are related remain unclear. Here, an analysis of historical observations reveals the Atlantic Niño as a possible intrinsic equatorial arm of the SAOD. Specifically, the observed sporadic equatorial warming characteristic of the Atlantic Niño (~0.4 K) is consistently linked to southwestern cooling (~−0.4 K) of the Atlantic Ocean during the boreal summer. Heat budget calculations show that the SAOD is largely driven by the surface net heat flux anomalies while ocean dynamics may be of secondary importance. Perturbations of the St. Helena anticyclone appear to be the dominant mechanism triggering the surface heat flux anomalies. A weakening of the anticyclone will tend to weaken the prevailing northeasterlies and enhance evaporative cooling over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean. In the equatorial region, the southeast trade winds weaken, thereby suppressing evaporation and leading to net surface warming. Thus, it is hypothesized that the wind–evaporation–SST feedback may be responsible for the growth of the SAOD events linking southern extratropics and equatorial Atlantic variability via surface net heat flux anomalies.

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Martin P. King, Ivana Herceg-Bulić, Ileana Bladé, Javier García-Serrano, Noel Keenlyside, Fred Kucharski, Camille Li, and Stefan Sobolowski

Abstract

Recent studies have indicated the importance of fall climate forcings and teleconnections in influencing the climate of the northern mid- to high latitudes. Here, we present some exploratory analyses using observational data and seasonal hindcasts, with the aim of highlighting the potential of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) as a driver of climate variability during boreal late fall and early winter (November and December) in the North Atlantic–European sector, and motivating further research on this relatively unexplored topic. The atmospheric ENSO teleconnection in November and December is reminiscent of the east Atlantic pattern and distinct from the well-known arching extratropical Rossby wave train found from January to March. Temperature and precipitation over Europe in November are positively correlated with the Niño-3.4 index, which suggests a potentially important ENSO climate impact during late fall. In particular, the ENSO-related temperature anomaly extends over a much larger area than during the subsequent winter months. We discuss the implications of these results and pose some research questions.

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Belen Rodríguez-Fonseca, Elsa Mohino, Carlos R. Mechoso, Cyril Caminade, Michela Biasutti, Marco Gaetani, J. Garcia-Serrano, Edward K. Vizy, Kerry Cook, Yongkang Xue, Irene Polo, Teresa Losada, Leonard Druyan, Bernard Fontaine, Juergen Bader, Francisco J. Doblas-Reyes, Lisa Goddard, Serge Janicot, Alberto Arribas, William Lau, Andrew Colman, M. Vellinga, David P. Rowell, Fred Kucharski, and Aurore Voldoire

Abstract

The Sahel experienced a severe drought during the 1970s and 1980s after wet periods in the 1950s and 1960s. Although rainfall partially recovered since the 1990s, the drought had devastating impacts on society. Most studies agree that this dry period resulted primarily from remote effects of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies amplified by local land surface–atmosphere interactions. This paper reviews advances made during the last decade to better understand the impact of global SST variability on West African rainfall at interannual to decadal time scales. At interannual time scales, a warming of the equatorial Atlantic and Pacific/Indian Oceans results in rainfall reduction over the Sahel, and positive SST anomalies over the Mediterranean Sea tend to be associated with increased rainfall. At decadal time scales, warming over the tropics leads to drought over the Sahel, whereas warming over the North Atlantic promotes increased rainfall. Prediction systems have evolved from seasonal to decadal forecasting. The agreement among future projections has improved from CMIP3 to CMIP5, with a general tendency for slightly wetter conditions over the central part of the Sahel, drier conditions over the western part, and a delay in the monsoon onset. The role of the Indian Ocean, the stationarity of teleconnections, the determination of the leader ocean basin in driving decadal variability, the anthropogenic role, the reduction of the model rainfall spread, and the improvement of some model components are among the most important remaining questions that continue to be the focus of current international projects.

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