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Julie Deshayes
,
Ruth Curry
, and
Rym Msadek

Abstract

The subpolar North Atlantic is a center of variability of ocean properties, wind stress curl, and air–sea exchanges. Observations and hindcast simulations suggest that from the early 1970s to the mid-1990s the subpolar gyre became fresher while the gyre and meridional circulations intensified. This is opposite to the relationship of freshening causing a weakened circulation, most often reproduced by climate models. The authors hypothesize that both these configurations exist but dominate on different time scales: a fresher subpolar gyre when the circulation is more intense, at interannual frequencies (configuration A), and a saltier subpolar gyre when the circulation is more intense, at longer periods (configuration B). Rather than going into the detail of the mechanisms sustaining each configuration, the authors’ objective is to identify which configuration dominates and to test whether this depends on frequency, in preindustrial control runs of five climate models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). To this end, the authors have developed a novel intercomparison method that enables analysis of freshwater budget and circulation changes in a physical perspective that overcomes model specificities. Lag correlations and a cross-spectral analysis between freshwater content changes and circulation indices validate the authors’ hypothesis, as configuration A is only visible at interannual frequencies while configuration B is mostly visible at decadal and longer periods, suggesting that the driving role of salinity on the circulation depends on frequency. Overall, this analysis underscores the large differences among state-of-the-art climate models in their representations of the North Atlantic freshwater budget.

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Victor Rousseau
,
Emilia Sanchez-Gomez
,
Rym Msadek
, and
Marie-Pierre Moine

Abstract

Air–sea interaction processes over the Gulf Stream have received particular attention over the last decade. It has been shown that sea surface temperature (SST) gradients over the Gulf Stream can alter the near-surface wind divergence through changes in the marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL). Two mechanisms have been proposed to explain the response: the vertical mixing mechanism (VMM) and the pressure adjustment mechanism (PAM). However, their respective contribution is still under debate. It has been argued that the synoptic perturbations over the Gulf Stream can provide more insight into the MABL response to SST fronts. We analyze the VMM and PAM under different atmospheric conditions obtained from a classification method that is based on the deciles of the statistical distribution of winter turbulent heat fluxes over the Gulf Stream. The lowest deciles are associated with weak air–sea interactions and anticyclonic atmospheric circulation over the Gulf Stream, whereas the highest deciles are related to strong air–sea interactions and a cyclonic circulation. Our analysis includes the low- and high-resolution versions of the ARPEGEv6 atmospheric model forced by observed SST, and the recently released ERA5 global reanalysis. We find that the occurrence of anticyclonic and cyclonic perturbations associated with different anomalous wind regimes can locally modulate the activation of the VMM and the PAM. In particular, the PAM is predominant in anticyclonic conditions, whereas both mechanisms are equally present in most of the cyclonic conditions. Our results highlight the role of the atmospheric circulation and associated anomalous winds in the location, strength, and occurrence of both mechanisms.

Open access
Anne-Sophie Fortin
,
Carolina O. Dufour
,
Timothy M. Merlis
, and
Rym Msadek

Abstract

The pattern and magnitude of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) in response to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration greatly differ across climate models in particular due to differences in the representation of oceanic processes. Here, we investigate the response of the AMOC to an idealized climate change scenario, along with the drivers of this response, in the three configurations of a coupled climate model suite with varying resolutions in the ocean (1°, 0.25°, 0.10°). In response to the CO2 increase, the AMOC shows a reduction of similar magnitude in the low and high resolutions, while a muted response is found in the medium resolution. A decomposition of the AMOC into its geostrophic and residual components reveals that most of the AMOC reduction is due to a weakening of the geostrophic streamfunction driven by temperature anomalies, partly opposed by a strengthening of the geostrophic streamfunction driven by salinity anomalies. Changes in the AMOC due to the mesoscale eddy streamfunction contribute to 13% and 17% of the AMOC decline in the low and high resolutions, respectively, but induce very little change in the medium resolution. The similar response of the AMOC strength in the low and high resolutions hides important differences in the contribution and pattern of the geostrophic and eddy streamfunctions. The lack of sensitivity of the medium resolution to the CO2 forcing is due to a weak connection between the deep water formation regions in the northern subpolar gyre and the Deep Western Boundary Current.

Significance Statement

The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) is a major system of ocean currents in the Atlantic that contributes to shaping the climate at regional and global scales, notably through the transport of heat from the low to the high latitudes. A major slowdown of the AMOC over the twenty-first century is predicted by current climate models in response to increasing greenhouse gases. Yet, the magnitude and timing of this slowdown are uncertain. The purpose of this study is to investigate the expected weakening of the AMOC using state-of-the-art numerical climate models that include higher resolutions than typically used in climate change assessments. Our results provide insights into the mechanisms driving the weakening of the AMOC and into differences arising from model resolutions.

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Sandrine Trotechaud
,
Bruno Tremblay
,
James Williams
,
Joy Romanski
,
Anastasia Romanou
,
Mitchell Bushuk
,
William Merryfield
, and
Rym Msadek

Abstract

Observations show predictive skill of the minimum sea ice extent (Min SIE) from late winter anomalous offshore ice drift along the Eurasian coastline, leading to local ice thickness anomalies at the onset of the melt season—a signal then amplified by the ice–albedo feedback. We assess whether the observed seasonal predictability of September sea ice extent (Sept SIE) from Fram Strait Ice Area Export (FSIAE; a proxy for Eurasian coastal divergence) is present in global climate model (GCM) large ensembles, namely the CESM2-LE, GISS-E2.1-G, FLOR-LE, CNRM-CM6-1, and CanESM5. All models show distinct periods where winter FSIAE anomalies are negatively correlated with the May sea ice thickness (May SIT) anomalies along the Eurasian coastline, and the following Sept Arctic SIE, as in observations. Counterintuitively, several models show occasional periods where winter FSIAE anomalies are positively correlated with the following Sept SIE anomalies when the mean ice thickness is large, or late in the simulation when the sea ice is thin, and/or when internal variability increases. More important, periods with weak correlation between winter FSIAE and the following Sept SIE dominate, suggesting that summer melt processes generally dominate over late-winter preconditioning and May SIT anomalies. In general, we find that the coupling between the winter FSIAE and ice thickness anomalies along the Eurasian coastline at the onset of the melt season is a ubiquitous feature of GCMs and that the relationship with the following Sept SIE is dependent on the mean Arctic sea ice thickness.

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Svenya Chripko
,
Rym Msadek
,
Emilia Sanchez-Gomez
,
Laurent Terray
,
Laurent Bessières
, and
Marie-Pierre Moine

Abstract

The Northern Hemisphere transient atmospheric response to Arctic sea decline is investigated in autumn and winter, using sensitivity experiments performed with the CNRM-CM6-1 high-top climate model. Arctic sea ice albedo is reduced to the ocean value, yielding ice-free conditions during summer and a more moderate sea ice reduction during the following months. A strong amplification of temperatures over the Arctic is induced by sea ice loss, with values reaching up to 25°C near the surface in autumn. Significant surface temperature anomalies are also found over the midlatitudes, with a warming reaching 1°C over North America and Europe, and a cooling reaching 1°C over central Asia. Using a dynamical adjustment method based on a regional reconstruction of circulation analogs, we show that the warming over North America and Europe can be explained both by changes in the atmospheric circulation and by the advection of warmer oceanic air by the climatological flow. In contrast, we demonstrate that the sea ice–induced cooling over central Asia is solely due to dynamical changes, involving an intensification of the Siberian high and a cyclonic anomaly over the Sea of Okhotsk. In the troposphere, the abrupt Arctic sea ice decline favors a narrowing of the subtropical jet stream and a slight weakening of the lower part of the polar vortex that is explained by a weak enhancement of upward wave activity toward the stratosphere. We further show that reduced Arctic sea ice in our experiments is mainly associated with less severe cold extremes in the midlatitudes.

Open access
Yohan Ruprich-Robert
,
Rym Msadek
,
Frederic Castruccio
,
Stephen Yeager
,
Tom Delworth
, and
Gokhan Danabasoglu

Abstract

The climate impacts of the observed Atlantic multidecadal variability (AMV) are investigated using the GFDL CM2.1 and the NCAR CESM1 coupled climate models. The model North Atlantic sea surface temperatures are restored to fixed anomalies corresponding to an estimate of the internally driven component of the observed AMV. Both models show that during boreal summer the AMV alters the Walker circulation and generates precipitation anomalies over the whole tropical belt. A warm phase of the AMV yields reduced precipitation over the western United States, drier conditions over the Mediterranean basin, and wetter conditions over northern Europe. During boreal winter, the AMV modulates by a factor of about 2 the frequency of occurrence of El Niño and La Niña events. This response is associated with anomalies over the Pacific that project onto the interdecadal Pacific oscillation pattern (i.e., Pacific decadal oscillation–like anomalies in the Northern Hemisphere and a symmetrical pattern in the Southern Hemisphere). This winter response is a lagged adjustment of the Pacific Ocean to the AMV forcing in summer. Most of the simulated global-scale impacts are driven by the tropical part of the AMV, except for the winter North Atlantic Oscillation–like response over the North Atlantic–European region, which is driven by both the subpolar and tropical parts of the AMV. The teleconnections between the Pacific and Atlantic basins alter the direct North Atlantic local response to the AMV, which highlights the importance of using a global coupled framework to investigate the climate impacts of the AMV. The similarity of the two model responses gives confidence that impacts described in this paper are robust.

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Yohan Ruprich-Robert
,
Thomas Delworth
,
Rym Msadek
,
Frederic Castruccio
,
Stephen Yeager
, and
Gokhan Danabasoglu

Abstract

The impacts of the Atlantic multidecadal variability (AMV) on summertime North American climate are investigated using three coupled global climate models (CGCMs) in which North Atlantic sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are restored to observed AMV anomalies. Large ensemble simulations are performed to estimate how AMV can modulate the occurrence of extreme weather such as heat waves. It is shown that, in response to an AMV warming, all models simulate a precipitation deficit and a warming over northern Mexico and the southern United States that lead to an increased number of heat wave days by about 30% compared to an AMV cooling. The physical mechanisms associated with these impacts are discussed. The positive tropical Atlantic SST anomalies associated with the warm AMV drive a Matsuno–Gill-like atmospheric response that favors subsidence over northern Mexico and the southern United States. This leads to a warming of the whole tropospheric column, and to a decrease in relative humidity, cloud cover, and precipitation. Soil moisture response to AMV also plays a role in the modulation of heat wave occurrence. An AMV warming favors dry soil conditions over northern Mexico and the southern United States by driving a year-round precipitation deficit through atmospheric teleconnections coming both directly from the North Atlantic SST forcing and indirectly from the Pacific. The indirect AMV teleconnections highlight the importance of using CGCMs to fully assess the AMV impacts on North America. Given the potential predictability of the AMV, the teleconnections discussed here suggest a source of predictability for the North American climate variability and in particular for the occurrence of heat waves at multiyear time scales.

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Lakshmi Krishnamurthy
,
Gabriel A. Vecchi
,
Rym Msadek
,
Andrew Wittenberg
,
Thomas L. Delworth
, and
Fanrong Zeng

Abstract

This study investigates the seasonality of the relationship between the Great Plains low-level jet (GPLLJ) and the Pacific Ocean from spring to summer, using observational analysis and coupled model experiments. The observed GPLLJ and El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) relation undergoes seasonal changes with a stronger GPLLJ associated with La Niña in boreal spring and El Niño in boreal summer. The ability of the GFDL Forecast-Oriented Low Ocean Resolution (FLOR) global coupled climate model, which has the high-resolution atmospheric and land components, to simulate the observed seasonality in the GPLLJ–ENSO relationship is assessed. The importance of simulating the magnitude and phase locking of ENSO accurately in order to better simulate its seasonal teleconnections with the Intra-Americas Sea (IAS) is demonstrated. This study explores the mechanisms for seasonal changes in the GPLLJ–ENSO relation in model and observations. It is hypothesized that ENSO affects the GPLLJ variability through the Caribbean low-level jet (CLLJ) during the summer and spring seasons. These results suggest that climate models with improved ENSO variability would advance our ability to simulate and predict seasonal variations of the GPLLJ and their associated impacts on the United States.

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Mitchell Bushuk
,
Rym Msadek
,
Michael Winton
,
Gabriel A. Vecchi
,
Rich Gudgel
,
Anthony Rosati
, and
Xiaosong Yang

Abstract

Because of its persistence on seasonal time scales, Arctic sea ice thickness (SIT) is a potential source of predictability for summer sea ice extent (SIE). New satellite observations of SIT represent an opportunity to harness this potential predictability via improved thickness initialization in seasonal forecast systems. In this work, the evolution of Arctic sea ice volume anomalies is studied using a 700-yr control integration and a suite of initialized ensemble forecasts from a fully coupled global climate model. This analysis is focused on the September sea ice zone, as this is the region where thickness anomalies have the potential to impact the SIE minimum. The primary finding of this paper is that, in addition to a general decay with time, sea ice volume anomalies display a summer enhancement, in which anomalies tend to grow between the months of May and July. This summer enhancement is relatively symmetric for positive and negative volume anomalies and peaks in July regardless of the initial month. Analysis of the surface energy budget reveals that the summer volume anomaly enhancement is driven by a positive feedback between the SIT state and the surface albedo. The SIT state affects surface albedo through changes in the sea ice concentration field, melt-onset date, snow coverage, and ice thickness distribution, yielding an anomaly in the total absorbed shortwave radiation between May and August, which enhances the existing SIT anomaly. This phenomenon highlights the crucial importance of accurate SIT initialization and representation of ice–albedo feedback processes in seasonal forecast systems.

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Lakshmi Krishnamurthy
,
Gabriel A. Vecchi
,
Rym Msadek
,
Hiroyuki Murakami
,
Andrew Wittenberg
, and
Fanrong Zeng

Abstract

Tropical cyclone (TC) activity in the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans is known to be affected by the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This study uses the GFDL Forecast Oriented Low Ocean Resolution Model (FLOR), which has relatively high resolution in the atmosphere, as a tool to investigate the sensitivity of TC activity to the strength of ENSO events. This study shows that TCs exhibit a nonlinear response to the strength of ENSO in the tropical eastern North Pacific (ENP) but a quasi-linear response in the tropical western North Pacific (WNP) and tropical North Atlantic. Specifically, a stronger El Niño results in disproportionate inhibition of TCs in the ENP and North Atlantic, and leads to an eastward shift in the location of TCs in the southeast of the WNP. However, the character of the response of TCs in the Pacific is insensitive to the amplitude of La Niña events. The eastward shift of TCs in the southeast of the WNP in response to a strong El Niño is due to an eastward shift of the convection and of the associated environmental conditions favorable for TCs. The inhibition of TC activity in the ENP and Atlantic during El Niño is attributed to the increase in the number of days with strong vertical wind shear during stronger El Niño events. These results are further substantiated with coupled model experiments. Understanding of the impact of strong ENSO on TC activity is important for present and future climate as the frequency of occurrence of extreme ENSO events is projected to increase in the future.

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