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François Lott, Andrew W. Robertson, and Michael Ghil

Abstract

Important aspects of low-frequency variability (LFV) are regional in character, while the mountain torques of the Rockies and the Himalayas evolve quite independently of each other. The hemispheric analysis of Part I is complemented therefore herein by an analysis of the relationships between individual mountain torques and sectorial LFV patterns in the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis.

In the 20–30-day band, relationships are found between the Rockies (Himalayas) torque and the dominant patterns of LFV over the Pacific (Eurasia). The composites of the atmospheric flow fields that accompany the Rockies (Himalayas) torque in this band exhibit similarities with known low-frequency oscillations that dominate the Pacific and North American (European and North Atlantic) sectors during certain winters. The composites keyed to the 20–30-day Rockies torque affect the persistent North Pacific (PNP) pattern that controls the extension of the midlatitude jet stream over the eastern Pacific. Furthermore, the unfiltered torques for the Northern Hemisphere (NH) and Rockies anticipate the onset of the two dominant winter Pacific circulation regimes that correlate strongly with the PNP pattern. The composites keyed to the 20–30-day Himalayas torque affect the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) pattern, which controls the intensity of the North Atlantic jet stream. Furthermore, the unfiltered torques for the NH and the Himalayas anticipate the breaks of the two dominant winter Atlantic circulation regimes, which correlate strongly with the NAO pattern.

These analyses also show that the 20–30-day Rockies (Himalayas) torques produce substantial atmospheric angular momentum (AAM) changes, which are nearly in phase with and larger in amplitude than the AAM changes associated with the midlatitude eastern Pacific (North Atlantic) jet stream variations seen in the composite maps. This result suggests that the Rockies (Himalayas) torque variations drive, at least partially, but actively the changes in the eastern Pacific (North Atlantic) jet stream.

These results are consistent with the Himalayas and the Rockies torques contributing separately to changes in the two leading hemispheric EOFs that were described in Part I; the two are associated with a hemispheric index cycle and the Arctic Oscillation, respectively.

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François Lott, Andrew W. Robertson, and Michael Ghil

Abstract

The NCEP–NCAR reanalysis dataset for 1958–97 is used to analyze intraseasonal variations in mountain torques and the large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns associated with them. Spectral analysis of the atmospheric angular momentum (AAM) budget shows that the dominant variations of mountain torque have periodicities near 30 days and shorter, while the dominant AAM variations occur in the 40–60-day band. This difference is due to the 40–60-day AAM variations being primarily related to equatorial processes, while mountain torque variations are associated mostly with extratropical processes.

The Northern Hemisphere (NH) mountain torque has enhanced power and significant spectral peaks in the 20–30-day band. The signal in this band accounts for 33% of the NH mountain torque variance, once the seasonal cycle has been removed. Lag composites of the NH 700-hPa geopotential heights based on the 20–30-day mountain torque signal show the latter to be associated with coherent large-scale patterns that resemble low-frequency oscillations identified in this band by previous authors. The composite patterns that are in phase quadrature with the 20–30-day NH mountain torque have a pronounced zonally symmetric component. These patterns are associated with substantial AAM variations, arguably driven by the NH mountain torque in this band.

Principal component (PC) analysis of the NH 700-hPa heights shows that, in the 20–30-day band, the mountain torque is also in phase quadrature with the two leading PCs; the first corresponds to changes in the midlatitude jet intensity near the subtropics, while the second corresponds to the Arctic Oscillation. The relationships with AAM of the latter essentially occurs through the mass term. Mountain torques are, furthermore, nearly in phase with dominant patterns of low-frequency variability that exhibit substantial pressure gradients across the Rockies and the Tibetan Plateau.

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Stefano Pierini, Michael Ghil, and Mickael D. Chekroun

Abstract

A low-order quasigeostrophic double-gyre ocean model is subjected to an aperiodic forcing that mimics time dependence dominated by interdecadal variability. This model is used as a prototype of an unstable and nonlinear dynamical system with time-dependent forcing to explore basic features of climate change in the presence of natural variability. The study relies on the theoretical framework of nonautonomous dynamical systems and of their pullback attractors (PBAs), that is, of the time-dependent invariant sets attracting all trajectories initialized in the remote past. The existence of a global PBA is rigorously demonstrated for this weakly dissipative nonlinear model. Ensemble simulations are carried out and the convergence to PBAs is assessed by computing the probability density function (PDF) of localization of the trajectories. A sensitivity analysis with respect to forcing amplitude shows that the PBAs experience large modifications if the underlying autonomous system is dominated by small-amplitude limit cycles, while less dramatic changes occur in a regime characterized by large-amplitude relaxation oscillations. The dependence of the attracting sets on the choice of the ensemble of initial states is then analyzed. Two types of basins of attraction coexist for certain parameter ranges; they contain chaotic and nonchaotic trajectories, respectively. The statistics of the former does not depend on the initial states whereas the trajectories in the latter converge to small portions of the global PBA. This complex scenario requires separate PDFs for chaotic and nonchaotic trajectories. General implications for climate predictability are finally discussed.

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Dmitri Kondrashov, Chaojiao Sun, and Michael Ghil

Abstract

The parameter estimation problem for the coupled ocean–atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific Ocean is investigated using an advanced sequential estimator [i.e., the extended Kalman filter (EKF)]. The intermediate coupled model (ICM) used in this paper consists of a prognostic upper-ocean model and a diagnostic atmospheric model. Model errors arise from the uncertainty in atmospheric wind stress. First, the state and parameters are estimated in an identical-twin framework, based on incomplete and inaccurate observations of the model state. Two parameters are estimated by including them into an augmented state vector. Model-generated oceanic datasets are assimilated to produce a time-continuous, dynamically consistent description of the model’s El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). State estimation without correcting erroneous parameter values still permits recovering the true state to a certain extent, depending on the quality and accuracy of the observations and the size of the discrepancy in the parameters. Estimating both state and parameter values simultaneously, though, produces much better results. Next, real sea surface temperatures observations from the tropical Pacific are assimilated for a 30-yr period (1975–2004). Estimating both the state and parameters by the EKF method helps to track the observations better, even when the ICM is not capable of simulating all the details of the observed state. Furthermore, unobserved ocean variables, such as zonal currents, are improved when model parameters are estimated. A key advantage of using this augmented-state approach is that the incremental cost of applying the EKF to joint state and parameter estimation is small relative to the cost of state estimation alone. A similar approach generalizes various reduced-state approximations of the EKF and could improve simulations and forecasts using large, realistic models.

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Yizhak Feliks, Michael Ghil, and Andrew W. Robertson

Abstract

Spectral analyses of the sea surface temperature (SST) in the Simple Ocean Data Analysis (SODA) reanalysis for the past half-century identify prominent and statistically significant interannual oscillations in two regions along the Gulf Stream front over the North Atlantic. A model of the atmospheric marine boundary layer coupled to a baroclinic quasigeostrophic model of the free atmosphere is then forced with the SST history from the SODA reanalysis. Two extreme states are found in the atmospheric simulations: 1) an eastward extension of the westerly jet associated with the front, which occurs mainly during boreal winter, and 2) a quiescent state of very weak flow found predominantly in the summer. This vacillation of the oceanic-front-induced jet in the model is found to exhibit periodicities similar to those identified in the observed Gulf Stream SST front itself. In addition, a close correspondence is found between interannual spectral peaks in the observed North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index and the SODA-induced oscillations in the atmospheric model. In particular, significant oscillatory modes with periods of 8.5, 4.2, and 2.8 yr are found in both observed and simulated indices and are shown to be highly synchronized and of similar energy in both time series. These oscillatory modes in the simulations are shown to be suppressed when either (i) the Gulf Stream front or (ii) its interannual oscillations are omitted from the SST field. Moreover, these modes also disappear when (iii) the SST front is spatially smoothed, thus confirming that they are indeed induced by the oceanic front.

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Yizhak Feliks, Michael Ghil, and Eric Simonnet

Abstract

This study examines the flow induced by an east–west-oriented oceanic thermal front in a highly idealized baroclinic model. Previous work showed that thermal fronts could produce energetic midlatitude jets in an equivalent-barotropic atmosphere and that barotropic instabilities of this jet had dominant periods of 25–30 and 65–75 days.

The present study extends this work to a two-mode baroclinic free atmosphere. The baroclinic jet produced in this case is subject to both barotropic and baroclinic instabilities. A barotropic symmetric instability propagates westward with periods of roughly 30 days and is similar to those found in the equivalent-barotropic model. A baroclinic instability results in standing-dipole anomalies and oscillates with a period of 6–8 months. A mixed barotropic–baroclinic instability results in anomalies that propagate northward, perpendicular to the jet, with a period of 2–3 months. The later anomalies are reminiscent of the 70-day oscillation found over the North Atlantic in observed fields.

The atmospheric flow has two distinct states: the flow in the high-energy state exhibits two large gyres and a strong eastward jet; its antisymmetric component is dominant. The low-energy flow is characterized by small gyres and a weak jet.

The model’s dynamics depends on the layer-depth ratio. When the model is nearly equivalent-barotropic, symmetric oscillatory modes dominate. As the two layers become nearly equal, antisymmetric oscillatory modes become significant and the mean energy of the flow increases.

When the oceanic thermal front’s strength T* is weak (T* ≤ 1.5°C), the flow is steady. For intermediate values of the strength (1.5°C < T* < 3°C), several oscillatory instabilities set in. As the frontal strength increases further (T* ≥ 3°C), the flow becomes more turbulent. These results all depend on the atmospheric model’s horizontal resolution being sufficiently high.

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Blandine L’Hévéder, Francis Codron, and Michael Ghil

Abstract

This paper explores the impact of anomalous northward oceanic heat transport on global climate in a slab ocean setting. To that end, the GCM LMDZ5A of the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique is coupled to a slab ocean, with realistic zonal asymmetries and seasonal cycle. Two simulations with different anomalous surface heating are imposed: 1) uniform heating over the North Atlantic basin and 2) concentrated heating in the Gulf Stream region, with a compensating uniform cooling in the Southern Ocean in both cases. The magnitudes of the heating and of the implied northward interhemispheric heat transport are within the range of current natural variability. Both simulations show global effects that are particularly strong in the tropics, with a northward shift of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) toward the heating anomalies. This shift is accompanied by a northward shift of the storm tracks in both hemispheres. From the comparison between the two simulations with different anomalous surface heating in the North Atlantic, it emerges that the global climate response is nearly insensitive to the spatial distribution of the heating. The cloud response acts as a large positive feedback on the oceanic forcing, mainly because of the low-cloud-induced shortwave anomalies in the extratropics. While previous literature has speculated that the extratropical Q flux may impact the tropics by the way of the transient eddy fluxes, it is explicitly demonstrated here. In the midlatitudes, the authors find a systematic northward shift of the jets, as well as of the associated Ferrel cells, storm tracks, and precipitation bands.

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Yizhak Feliks, Michael Ghil, and Andrew W. Robertson

Abstract

Oscillatory climatic modes over the North Atlantic, Ethiopian Plateau, and eastern Mediterranean were examined in instrumental and proxy records from these regions. Aside from the well-known North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index and the Nile River water-level records, the authors study for the first time an instrumental rainfall record from Jerusalem and a tree-ring record from the Golan Heights.

The teleconnections between the regions were studied in terms of synchronization of chaotic oscillators. Standard methods for studying synchronization among such oscillators are modified by combining them with advanced spectral methods, including singular spectrum analysis. The resulting cross-spectral analysis quantifies the strength of the coupling together with the degree of synchronization.

A prominent oscillatory mode with a 7–8-yr period is present in all the climatic indices studied here and is completely synchronized with the North Atlantic Oscillation. An energy analysis of the synchronization raises the possibility that this mode originates in the North Atlantic. Evidence is discussed for this mode being induced by the 7–8-yr oscillation in the position of the Gulf Stream front. A mechanism for the teleconnections between the North Atlantic, Ethiopian Plateau, and eastern Mediterranean is proposed, and implications for interannual-to-decadal climate prediction are discussed.

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Robert N. Miller, Michael Ghil, and François Gauthiez

Abstract

Advanced data assimilation methods are applied to simple but highly nonlinear problems. The dynamical systems studied here are the stochastically forced double well and the Lorenz model. In both systems, linear approximation of the dynamics about the critical points near which regime transitions occur is not always sufficient to track their occurrence or nonoccurrence.

Straightforward application of the extended Kalman filter yields mixed results. The ability of the extended Kalman filter to track transitions of the double-well system from one stable critical point to the other depends on the frequency and accuracy of the observations relative to the mean-square amplitude of the stochastic forcing. The ability of the filter to track the chaotic trajectories of the Lorenz model is limited to short times, as is the ability of strong-constraint variational methods. Examples are given to illustrate the difficulties involved, and qualitative explanations for these difficulties are provided.

Three generalizations of the extended Kalman filter are described. The first is based on inspection of the innovation sequence, that is, the successive differences between observations and forecasts; it works very well for the double-well problem. The second, an extension to fourth-order moments, yields excellent results for the Lorenz model but will be unwieldy when applied to models with high-dimensional state spaces. A third, more practical method—based on an empirical statistical model derived from a Monte Carlo simulation-is formulated, and shown to work very well.

Weak-constraint methods can be made to perform satisfactorily in the context of these simple models, but such methods do not seem to generalize easily to practical models of the atmosphere and ocean. In particular, it is shown that the equations derived in the weak variational formulation are difficult to solve conveniently for large systems.

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Robert Vautard, Kingtse C. Mo, and Michael Ghil

Abstract

Low-frequency variability of large-scale atmospheric dynamics can be represented schematically by a Markov chain of multiple flow regimes. This Markov chain contains useful information for the long-range forecaster, provided that the statistical significance of the associated transition matrix can be reliably tested. Monte Carlo simulation yields a very reliable significance test for the elements of this matrix. The results of this test agree with previously used empirical formulae when each cluster of maps identified as a distinct flow regime is sufficiently large and when they all contain a comparable number of maps. Monte Carlo simulation provides a more reliable way to test the statistical significance of transitions to and from small clusters. It can determine the most likely transitions, as well as the most unlikely ones, with a prescribed level of statistical significance.

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