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Julie M. Jones and Martin Widmann

Abstract

An estimate of the strength of the austral summer Antarctic Oscillation using station sea level pressure records for the period 1878–2000 is presented, the first to the authors' knowledge. The reconstruction was obtained by relating the Antarctic Oscillation (AAO) intensity derived from NCEP–NCAR reanalysis data to the leading principal components of station records using multiple regression analysis. Particular effort has been made to fit the model in a way that is robust to the questionable trends in the NCEP–NCAR data in the Southern Hemisphere. The trends in the reconstruction are derived from the station data, not from the NCEP data. Cross-validation with the NCEP data and comparison with other analyses of the AAO over the late instrumental period give confidence that this station-based reconstruction can be regarded as trustworthy. With regard to the whole reconstruction period, some unquantifiable uncertainty stems from potential instability of the statistical relationships.

To extend this record further back, a reconstruction using tree-ring chronologies back to 1743 has also been undertaken. Comparison with the station-based reconstruction shows moderate agreement on interannual and decadal timescales, but the comparison also points toward the inherent uncertainties of proxy-based climate reconstructions. In particular, it was found that this tree-based reconstruction may have been influenced by a warming that is not related to changes in the Antarctic Oscillation index during the twentieth century. Comparison of the tree-based reconstruction with a published reconstruction of zonal flow over New Zealand before the twentieth century shows common features.

The temperature and precipitation signals of the Antarctic Oscillation have been calculated and show that the response of the chronologies to Antarctic Oscillation variability is physically plausible. In addition, it was shown that a substantial fraction of the observed warming over much of Antarctica between the late 1950s and the 1980s can be linked to changes in the Antarctic Oscillation, whereas the observed warming over New Zealand is related to other influences.

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Ryan L. Fogt, Julie M. Jones, and James Renwick

Abstract

The Southern Hemisphere annular mode (SAM) is the dominant mode of climate variability in the extratropical Southern Hemisphere. Representing variations in pressure and the corresponding changes to the circumpolar zonal flow, it is typically thought of as an “annular” or ringlike structure. However, on seasonal time scales the zonal symmetry observed in the SAM in monthly or annual mean data is much less marked. This study further examines the seasonal changes in the SAM structure and explores temperature signals across the Southern Hemisphere that are strongly tied to the asymmetric SAM structure.

The SAM asymmetries are most marked in the Pacific sector and in austral winter and spring, related to changes in the jet entrance and exit regions poleward of 30°S. Depending on the season, the asymmetric SAM structure explains over 25% of the variance in the overall SAM structure and has strong connections with ENSO or zonal wavenumber 3. In austral summer and autumn the SAM has been becoming more zonally symmetric, especially after 1980, perhaps tied to changes in anthropogenic forcing. Across the Pacific sector, including the Antarctic Peninsula, temperature variations are strongly tied to the asymmetric SAM structure, while temperatures across East Antarctica are more strongly tied to the zonally symmetric SAM structure.

The results suggest that studies examining the climate impacts of the SAM across the Southern Hemisphere need to consider the seasonal variations in the SAM structure as well as varying impacts between its positive and negative polarity to adequately describe the underlying relationships.

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Ryan L. Fogt, Megan E. Jones, Chad A. Goergens, Susan Solomon, and Julie M. Jones
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Julie M. Jones, Ryan L. Fogt, Martin Widmann, Gareth J. Marshall, Phil D. Jones, and Martin Visbeck

Abstract

Seasonal reconstructions of the Southern Hemisphere annular mode (SAM) index are derived to extend the record before the reanalysis period, using station sea level pressure (SLP) data as predictors. Two reconstructions using different predictands are obtained: one [Jones and Widmann (JW)] based on the first principal component (PC) of extratropical SLP and the other (Fogt) on the index of Marshall. A regional-based SAM index (Visbeck) is also considered.

These predictands agree well post-1979; correlations decline in all seasons except austral summer for the full series starting in 1958. Predictand agreement is strongest in spring and summer; hence agreement between the reconstructions is highest in these seasons. The less zonally symmetric SAM structure in winter and spring influences the strength of the SAM signal over land areas, hence the number of stations included in the reconstructions. Reconstructions from 1865 were, therefore, derived in summer and autumn and from 1905 in winter and spring.

This paper examines the skill of each reconstruction by comparison with observations and reanalysis data. Some of the individual peaks in the reconstructions, such as the most recent in austral summer, represent a full hemispheric SAM pattern, while others are caused by regional SLP anomalies over the locations of the predictors. The JW and Fogt reconstructions are of similar quality in summer and autumn, while in winter and spring the Marshall index is better reconstructed by Fogt than the PC index is by JW. In spring and autumn the SAM shows considerable variability prior to recent decades.

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Ryan L. Fogt, Megan E. Jones, Susan Solomon, Julie M. Jones, and Chad A. Goergens

Abstract

The meteorological conditions during the Amundsen and Scott South Pole expeditions in 1911/12 are examined using a combination of observations collected during the expeditions as well as modern reanalysis and reconstructed pressure datasets. It is found that over much of this austral summer, pressures were exceptionally high (more than two standard deviations above the climatological mean) at both main bases, as well as along the sledging journeys, especially in December 1911. In conjunction with the anomalously high pressures, Amundsen and his crew experienced temperatures that peaked above –16°C on the polar plateau on 6 December 1911, which is extremely warm for this region. While Scott also encountered unusually warm conditions at this time, the above-average temperatures were accompanied by a wet snowstorm that slowed his progress across the Ross Ice Shelf. Although January 1912 was marked with slightly below-average temperatures and pressure, high temperatures and good conditions were observed in early February 1912, when Scott and his companions were at the top of the Beardmore Glacier. When compared to the anomalously cold temperatures experienced by the Scott polar party in late February and March 1912, the temperature change is in the top 3% based on more than 35 years of reanalysis data. Scott and his companions therefore faced an exceptional decrease in temperature when transiting to the Ross Ice Shelf in February and March 1912, which likely made the persistent cold spell they experienced on the Ross Ice Shelf seem even more intense by comparison.

Open access
Richard J. Hall, Adam A. Scaife, Edward Hanna, Julie M. Jones, and Robert Erdélyi

Abstract

The variability of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is a key aspect of Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation and has a profound impact upon the weather of the surrounding landmasses. Recent success with dynamical forecasts predicting the winter NAO at lead times of a few months has the potential to deliver great socioeconomic impacts. Here, a linear regression model is found to provide skillful predictions of the winter NAO based on a limited number of statistical predictors. Identified predictors include El Niño, Arctic sea ice, Atlantic SSTs, and tropical rainfall. These statistical models can show significant skill when used to make out-of-sample forecasts, and the method is extended to produce probabilistic predictions of the winter NAO. The statistical hindcasts can achieve similar levels of skill to state-of-the-art dynamical forecast models, although out-of-sample predictions are less skillful, albeit over a small period. Forecasts over a longer out-of-sample period suggest there is true skill in the statistical models, comparable with that of dynamical forecasting models. They can be used both to help evaluate and to offer insight into the sources of predictability and limitations of dynamical models.

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Nikolaus Groll, Martin Widmann, Julie M. Jones, Frank Kaspar, and Stephan J. Lorenz

Abstract

To investigate relationships between large-scale circulation and regional-scale temperatures during the last (Eemian) interglacial, a simulation with a general circulation model (GCM) under orbital forcing conditions of 125 kyr BP is compared with a simulation forced with the Late Holocene preindustrial conditions. Consistent with previous GCM simulations for the Eemian, higher northern summer 2-m temperatures are found, which are directly related to the different insolation. Differences in the mean circulation are evident such as, for instance, stronger northern winter westerlies toward Europe, which are associated with warmer temperatures in central and northeastern Europe in the Eemian simulation, while the circulation variability, analyzed by means of a principal component analysis of the sea level pressure (SLP) field, is very similar in both periods.

As a consequence of the differences in the mean circulation the simulated Arctic Oscillation (AO) temperature signal in the northern winter, on interannual-to-multidecadal time scales, is weaker during the Eemian than today over large parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Correlations between the AO index and the central European temperature (CET) decrease by about 0.2. The winter and spring SLP anomalies over the North Atlantic/European domain that are most strongly linearly linked to the CET cover a smaller area and are shifted westward over the North Atlantic during the Eemian. However, the strength of the connection between CET and these SLP anomalies is similar in both simulations.

The simulated differences in the AO temperature signal and in the SLP anomaly, which is linearly linked to the CET, suggest that during the Eemian the link between the large-scale circulation and temperature-sensitive proxy data from Europe may differ from present-day conditions and that this difference should be taken into account when inferring large-scale climate from temperature-sensitive proxy data.

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Ryan L. Fogt, Judith Perlwitz, Andrew J. Monaghan, David H. Bromwich, Julie M. Jones, and Gareth J. Marshall

Abstract

This second paper examines the Southern Hemisphere annular mode (SAM) variability from reconstructions, observed indices, and simulations from 17 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) models from 1865 to 2005. Comparisons reveal the models do not fully simulate the duration of strong natural variability within the reconstructions during the 1930s and 1960s.

Seasonal indices are examined to understand the relative roles of forced and natural fluctuations. The models capture the recent (1957–2005) positive SAM trends in austral summer, which reconstructions indicate is the strongest trend during the last 150 yr; ozone depletion is the dominant mechanism driving these trends. In autumn, negative trends after 1930 in the reconstructions are stronger than the recent positive trend. Furthermore, model trends in autumn during 1957–2005 are the most different from observations. Both of these conditions suggest the recent autumn trend is most likely natural climate variability, with external forcing playing a secondary role. Many models also produce significant spring trends during this period not seen in observations. Although insignificant, these differences arise because of vastly different spatial structures in the Southern Hemisphere pressure trends. As the trend differences between models and observations in austral spring have been increasing over the last 30 yr, care must be exercised when examining the future SAM projections and their impacts in this season.

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