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Guillaume Gastineau, Javier García-Serrano, and Claude Frankignoul

Abstract

The relationship between Eurasian snow cover extent (SCE) and Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation is studied in reanalysis during 1979–2014 and in CMIP5 preindustrial control runs. In observations, dipolar SCE anomalies in November, with negative anomalies over eastern Europe and positive anomalies over eastern Siberia, are followed by a negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation (AO) one and two months later. In models, this effect is largely underestimated, but four models simulate such a relationship. In observations and these models, the SCE influence is primarily due to the eastern Siberian pole, which is itself driven by the Scandinavian pattern (SCA), with a large anticyclonic anomaly over the Urals. The SCA is also responsible for a link between Eurasian SCE anomalies and sea ice concentration (SIC) anomalies in the Barents–Kara Sea.

Increasing SCE over Siberia leads to a local cooling of the lower troposphere and is associated with warm conditions over the eastern Arctic. This is followed by a polar vortex weakening in December and January, which has an AO-like signature. In observations, the association between November SCE and the winter AO is amplified by SIC anomalies in the Barents–Kara Sea, where large diabatic heating of the lower troposphere occurs, but results suggest that the SCE is the main driver of the AO. Conversely, the sea ice anomalies have little influence in most models, which is consistent with the different SCA variability, the colder mean state, and the underestimation of troposphere–stratosphere coupling simulated in these models.

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Bianca Mezzina, Javier García-Serrano, Ileana Bladé, and Fred Kucharski

Abstract

The winter extratropical teleconnection of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the North Atlantic–European (NAE) sector remains controversial, concerning both the amplitude of its impacts and the underlying dynamics. However, a well-established response is a late-winter (January–March) signal in sea level pressure (SLP) consisting of a dipolar pattern that resembles the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Clarifying the relationship between this “NAO-like” ENSO signal and the actual NAO is the focus of this study. The ENSO–NAE teleconnection and NAO signature are diagnosed by means of linear regression onto the sea surface temperature (SST) Niño-3.4 index and an EOF-based NAO index, respectively, using long-term reanalysis data (NOAA-20CR, ERA-20CR). While the similarity in SLP is evident, the analysis of anomalous upper-tropospheric geopotential height, zonal wind, and transient-eddy momentum flux, as well as precipitation and meridional eddy heat flux, suggests that there is no dynamical link between the phenomena. The observational results are further confirmed by analyzing two 10-member ensembles of atmosphere-only simulations (using an intermediate-complexity and a state-of-the-art model) with prescribed SSTs over the twentieth century. The SST-forced variability in the Northern Hemisphere is dominated by the extratropical ENSO teleconnection, which provides modest but significant SLP skill in the NAE midlatitudes. The regional internally generated variability, estimated from residuals around the ensemble mean, corresponds to the NAO pattern. It is concluded that distinct dynamics are at play in the ENSO–NAE teleconnection and NAO variability, and caution is advised when interpreting the former in terms of the latter.

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Irene Polo, Belén Rodríguez-Fonseca, Teresa Losada, and Javier García-Serrano

Abstract

This work presents a description of the 1979–2002 tropical Atlantic (TA) SST variability modes coupled to the anomalous West African (WA) rainfall during the monsoon season. The time-evolving SST patterns, with an impact on WA rainfall variability, are analyzed using a new methodology based on maximum covariance analysis. The enhanced Climate Prediction Center (CPC) Merged Analysis of Precipitation (CMAP) dataset, which includes measures over the ocean, gives a complete picture of the interannual WA rainfall patterns for the Sahel dry period. The leading TA SST pattern, related to the Atlantic El Niño, is coupled to anomalous precipitation over the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, which corresponds to the second WA rainfall principal component. The thermodynamics and dynamics involved in the generation, development, and damping of this mode are studied and compared with previous works. The SST mode starts at the Angola/Benguela region and is caused by alongshore wind anomalies. It then propagates westward via Rossby waves and damps because of latent heat flux anomalies and Kelvin wave eastward propagation from an off-equatorial forcing. The second SST mode includes the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean, showing how the Mediterranean SST anomalies are those that are directly associated with the Sahelian rainfall. The global signature of the TA SST patterns is analyzed, adding new insights about the Pacific–Atlantic link in relation to WA rainfall during this period. Also, this global picture suggests that the Mediterranean SST anomalies are a fingerprint of large-scale forcing.

This work updates the results given by other authors, whose studies are based on different datasets dating back to the 1950s, including both the wet and the dry Sahel periods.

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Javier García-Serrano, Teresa Losada, Belén Rodríguez-Fonseca, and Irene Polo

Abstract

The ways in which deep convection over the tropical Atlantic affects the midlatitude climate variability through meridional circulation, planetary wave teleconnection, and wave–mean flow interaction is examined for the 1979–2002 period, by following the North Atlantic anomalous rainfall evolution from summer to late winter. In this way, the first two covariability modes between anomalous summer tropical Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST) and anomalous summer–late-winter precipitation over the North Atlantic basin are analyzed using the same methodology of extended maximum covariance analysis developed for Part I. This work updates the results given by other authors, whose studies are based on different datasets dating back to the 1950s. To this end, the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) Merged Analysis of Precipitation (CMAP) dataset, which includes measures over the ocean, is used to give a complete picture of the interannual rainfall patterns for the last decades.

The first mode, which accounts for more than 40% of the squared covariance fraction (SCF), involves SST anomalies related to the equatorial mode or Atlantic Niño. Its atmospheric response shows variations of the Atlantic Hadley and Ferrel circulations, reinforcing the direct and indirect circulation cells, respectively, displacements of the Atlantic Walker circulation, and the excitation of Rossby waves, which are trapped in the North African–Asian jet. The second mode, which accounts for 15% of the SCF, is associated with the summer horseshoe and winter tripole SST patterns. The related atmospheric circulation anomalies include direct thermal forcing (altering the local Hadley cell), perturbations in the ITCZ, and wavelike responses from the Caribbean region.

The method used in this work highlights the seasonal dependence of the modes, in contrast to previous work that neglects to take into account the month-to-month evolution of these modes. The results add new and valuable information to the understanding of these modes from the important period back to the 1980s.

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Javier García-Serrano, Teresa Losada, and Belén Rodríguez-Fonseca

Abstract

The Atlantic Niño or Atlantic Equatorial Mode (EM) is the dominant coupled variability phenomenon in the tropical Atlantic basin during boreal summer. From the 1970s, the mode has changed, evolving in time from east to west and without persisting until the following winter. In a previous observational work, the authors have studied the atmospheric response to the EM during the 1979–2005 period, proposing three main issues along the decaying phase of this mode: 1) the continuous confinement of the anomalous deep convection over northeastern Brazil following the thermal-forcing decay; 2) an increasing dipole-like precipitation anomaly with dry conditions in the Florida–Gulf of Mexico region; and 3) the excitation of Rossby waves forced by the remaining upper-tropospheric divergence that are trapped into the subtropical jet but do not show a robust impact on the European sector.

In this work, a 10-member ensemble simulation for the recent EM with the University of California, Los Angeles AGCM model has been analyzed for assessing the evolution of the atmospheric response to the summer Atlantic Niño decay. Results from the sensitivity experiment support that the former and the latter findings can be interpreted in terms of the Atlantic thermal forcing; while the negative rainfall anomalies in the western subtropical basin require an external forcing outside the tropical Atlantic. Prior studies point at the peaking Pacific El Niño as a potential player.

An important conclusion of this work is that the seasonal atmospheric response to the Atlantic Niño decaying phase is mainly determined by the climatological jet stream’s position and intensity. In this way, this response shows an arching pattern over the North Atlantic region during summer–autumn and a zonally oriented wave train during autumn–winter.

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Omar Bellprat, Javier García-Serrano, Neven S. Fučkar, François Massonnet, Virginie Guemas, and Francisco J. Doblas-Reyes
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Javier García-Serrano, Christophe Cassou, Hervé Douville, Alessandra Giannini, and Francisco J. Doblas-Reyes

Abstract

One of the most robust remote impacts of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the teleconnection to tropical North Atlantic (TNA) sea surface temperature (SST) in boreal spring. However, important questions still remain open. In particular, the timing of the ENSO–TNA relationship lacks understanding. The three previously proposed mechanisms rely on teleconnection dynamics involving a time lag of one season with respect to the ENSO mature phase in winter, but recent results have shown that the persistence of ENSO into spring is necessary for the development of the TNA SST anomalies. Likewise, the identification of the effective atmospheric forcing in the deep TNA to drive the regional air–sea interaction is also lacking. In this manuscript a new dynamical framework to understand the ENSO–TNA teleconnection is proposed, in which a continuous atmospheric forcing is present throughout the ENSO decaying phase. Observational datasets in the satellite era, which include reliable estimates over the ocean, are used to illustrate the mechanism at play. The dynamics rely on the remote Gill-type response to the ENSO zonally compensated heat source over the Amazon basin, associated with perturbations in the Walker circulation. For El Niño conditions, the anomalous diabatic heating in the tropical Pacific is compensated by anomalous diabatic cooling, in association with negative rainfall anomalies and descending motion over northern South America. A pair of anomalous cyclonic circulations is established at upper-tropospheric levels in the tropical Atlantic straddling the equator, displaying a characteristic baroclinic structure with height. In the TNA region, the mirrored anomalous anticyclonic circulation at lower-tropospheric levels weakens the northeasterly trade winds, leading to a reduction in evaporation and of the ocean mixed layer depth, hence to positive SST anomalies. Apart from the dominance of latent heat flux anomalies in the remote response, sensible heat flux and shortwave radiation anomalies also appear to contribute. The “lagged” relationship between mature ENSO in winter and peaking TNA SSTs in spring seems to be phase locked with the seasonal cycle in both the location of the mechanism’s centers of action and regional SST variance.

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Neven S. Fučkar, François Massonnet, Virginie Guemas, Javier García-Serrano, Omar Bellprat, Mario Acosta, and Francisco J. Doblas-Reyes
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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.

Open access
Juan C. Acosta Navarro, Pablo Ortega, Javier García-Serrano, Virginie Guemas, Etienne Tourigny, Rubén Cruz-García, François Massonnet, and Francisco J. Doblas-Reyes
Open access