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Young-Oh Kwon and Claude Frankignoul

Abstract

Multidecadal variability of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) is examined based on a comparison of the AMOC streamfunctions in depth and in density space, in a 700-yr present-day control integration of the fully coupled Community Climate System Model, version 3. The commonly used depth-coordinate AMOC primarily exhibits the variability associated with the deep equatorward transport that follows the changes in the Labrador Sea deep water formation. On the other hand, the density-based AMOC emphasizes the variability associated with the subpolar gyre circulation in the upper ocean leading to the changes in the Labrador Sea convection. Combining the two representations indicates that the ~20-yr periodicity of the AMOC variability in the first half of the simulation is primarily due to an ocean-only mode resulting from the coupling of the deep equatorward flow and the upper ocean gyre circulation near the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Current. In addition, the density-based AMOC reveals a gradual change in the deep ocean associated with cooling and increased density, which is likely responsible for the transition of AMOC variability from strong ~20-yr oscillations to a weaker red noise–like multidecadal variability.

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Young-Oh Kwon and Clara Deser

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North Pacific decadal oceanic and atmospheric variability is examined from a 650-yr control integration of the Community Climate System Model version 2. The dominant pattern of winter sea surface temperature (SST) variability is similar to the observed “Pacific decadal oscillation,” with maximum amplitude along the Kuroshio Extension. SST anomalies in this region exhibit significant spectral peaks at approximately 16 and 40 yr. Lateral geostrophic heat flux divergence, caused by a meridional shift of the Kuroshio Extension forced by basin-scale wind stress curl anomalies 3–5 yr earlier, is responsible for the decadal SST variability; local surface heat flux and Ekman heat flux divergence act as a damping and positive feedback, respectively. A simple linear Rossby wave model is invoked to explicitly demonstrate the link between the wind stress curl forcing and decadal variability in the Kuroshio Extension. The Rossby wave model not only successfully reproduces the two decadal spectral peaks, but also illustrates that only the low-frequency (>10-yr period) portion of the approximately white noise wind stress curl forcing is relevant. This model also demonstrates that the weak and insignificant decadal spectral peaks in the wind stress curl forcing are necessary for producing the corresponding strong and significant oceanic peaks in the Kuroshio Extension. The wind stress curl response to decadal SST anomalies in the Kuroshio Extension is similar in structure but opposite in sign and somewhat weaker than the wind stress curl forcing pattern. These results suggest that the simulated North Pacific decadal variability owes its existence to two-way ocean–atmosphere coupling.

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Rhys Parfitt and Young-Oh Kwon

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This study suggests that the Gulf Stream influence on the wintertime North Atlantic troposphere is most pronounced when the eddy-driven jet (EDJ) is farthest south and better collocated with the Gulf Stream. Using the reanalysis dataset NCEP-CFSR for December–February 1979–2009, the daily EDJ latitude is separated into three regimes (northern, central, and southern). It is found that the average trajectory of atmospheric fronts covaries with EDJ latitude. In the southern EDJ regime (~19% of the time), the frequency of near-surface atmospheric fronts that pass across the Gulf Stream is maximized. Analysis suggests that this leads to significant strengthening in near-surface atmospheric frontal convergence resulting from strong air–sea sensible heat flux gradients (due to strong temperature gradients in the atmosphere and ocean). In recent studies, it was shown that the pronounced band of time-mean near-surface wind convergence across the Gulf Stream is set by atmospheric fronts. Here, it is shown that an even smaller subset of atmospheric fronts—those associated with a southern EDJ—primarily sets the time mean, due to enhanced Gulf Stream air–sea interaction. Furthermore, statistically significant anomalies in vertical velocity extending well above the boundary layer are identified in association with changes in EDJ latitude. These anomalies are particularly strong for a southern EDJ and are spatially consistent with increases in near-surface atmospheric frontal convergence over the Gulf Stream. These results imply that much of the Gulf Stream influence on the time-mean atmosphere is modulated on synoptic time scales, and enhanced when the EDJ is farthest south.

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Lu Anne Thompson and Young-Oh Kwon

Abstract

Enhanced decadal variability in sea surface temperature (SST) centered on the Kuroshio Extension (KE) has been found in the Community Climate System Model version 3 (CCSM3) as well as in other coupled climate models. This decadal peak has higher energy than is found in nature, almost twice as large in some cases. While previous analyses have concentrated on the mechanisms for such decadal variability in coupled models, an analysis of the causes of excessive SST response to changes in wind stress has been missing. Here, a detailed comparison of the relationships between interannual changes in SST and sea surface height (SSH) as a proxy for geostrophic surface currents in the region in both CCSM3 and observations, and how these relationships depend on the mean ocean circulation, temperature, and salinity, is made. We use observationally based climatological temperature and salinity fields as well as satellite-based SSH and SST fields for comparison. The primary cause for the excessive SST variability is the coincidence of the mean KE with the region of largest SST gradients in the model. In observations, these two regions are separated by almost 500 km. In addition, the too shallow surface oceanic mixed layer in March north of the KE in the subarctic Pacific contributes to the biases. These biases are not unique to CCSM3 and suggest that mean biases in current, temperature, and salinity structures in separated western boundary current regions can exert a large influence on the size of modeled decadal SST variability.

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Claude Frankignoul, Guillaume Gastineau, and Young-Oh Kwon

Abstract

Two large ensembles (LEs) of historical climate simulations are used to compare how various statistical methods estimate the sea surface temperature (SST) changes due to anthropogenic and other external forcing, and how their removal affects the internally generated Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO), Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO), and the SST footprint of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). Removing the forced SST signal by subtracting the global mean SST (GM) or a linear regression on it (REGR) leads to large errors in the Pacific. Multidimensional ensemble empirical mode decomposition (MEEMD) and quadratic detrending only efficiently remove the forced SST signal in one LE, and cannot separate the short-term response to volcanic eruptions from natural SST variations. Removing a linear trend works poorly. Two methods based on linear inverse modeling (LIM), one where the leading LIM mode represents the forced signal and another using an optimal perturbation filter (LIMopt), perform consistently well. However, the first two LIM modes are sometimes needed to represent the forced signal, so the more robust LIMopt is recommended. In both LEs, the natural AMO variability seems largely driven by the AMOC in the subpolar North Atlantic, but not in the subtropics and tropics, and the scatter in the AMOC–AMO correlation is large between individual ensemble members. In three observational SST reconstructions for 1900–2015, linear and quadratic detrending, MEEMD, and GM yield somewhat different AMO behavior, and REGR yields smaller PDO amplitudes. Based on LIMopt, only about 30% of the AMO variability is internally generated, as opposed to more than 90% for the PDO. The natural SST variability contribution to global warming hiatus is discussed.

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Claude Frankignoul, Guillaume Gastineau, and Young-Oh Kwon

Abstract

The influence of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) variability on the atmospheric circulation is investigated in a control simulation of the NCAR Community Climate System Model, version 3 (CCSM3), where the AMOC evolves from an oscillatory regime into a red noise regime. In the latter, an AMOC intensification is followed during winter by a positive North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). The atmospheric response is robust and controlled by AMOC-driven SST anomalies, which shift the heat release to the atmosphere northward near the Gulf Stream/North Atlantic Current. This alters the low-level atmospheric baroclinicity and shifts the maximum eddy growth northward, affecting the storm track and favoring a positive NAO. The AMOC influence is detected in the relation between seasonal upper-ocean heat content or SST anomalies and winter sea level pressure. In the oscillatory regime, no direct AMOC influence is detected in winter. However, an upper-ocean heat content anomaly resembling the AMOC footprint precedes a negative NAO. This opposite NAO polarity seems due to the southward shift of the Gulf Stream during AMOC intensification, displacing the maximum baroclinicity southward near the jet exit. As the mode has somewhat different patterns when using SST, the wintertime impact of the AMOC lacks robustness in this regime. However, none of the signals compares well with the observed influence of North Atlantic SST anomalies on the NAO because SST is dominated in CCSM3 by the meridional shifts of the Gulf Stream/North Atlantic Current that covary with the AMOC. Hence, although there is some potential climate predictability in CCSM3, it is not realistic.

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Adèle Révelard, Claude Frankignoul, and Young-Oh Kwon

Abstract

The Generalized Equilibrium Feedback Analysis (GEFA) is used to distinguish the influence of the Oyashio Extension (OE) and the Kuroshio Extension (KE) variability on the atmosphere from 1979 to 2014 from that of the main SST variability modes, using seasonal mean anomalies. Remote SST anomalies are associated with each single oceanic regressor, but the multivariate approach efficiently confines their SST footprints. In autumn [October–December (OND)], the OE meridional shifts are followed by a North Pacific Oscillation (NPO)-like signal. The OE influence is not investigated in winter [December–February (DJF)] because of multicollinearity, but a robust response with a strong signal over the Bering Sea is found in late winter/early spring [February–April (FMA)], a northeastward strengthening of the Aleutian low following a northward OE shift. A robust response to the KE variability is found in autumn, but not in winter and late winter when the KE SST footprint becomes increasingly small and noisy as regressors are added in GEFA. In autumn, a positive PDO is followed by a northward strengthening of the Aleutian low and a southward shift of the storm track in the central Pacific, reflecting the surface heat flux footprint in the central Pacific. In winter, the PDO shifts the maximum baroclinicity and storm track southward, the response strongly tilts westward with height in the North Pacific, and there is a negative NAO-like teleconnection. In late winter, the North Pacific NPO-like response to the PDO interferes negatively with the response to the OE and is only detected when the OE is represented in GEFA. A different PDO influence on the atmospheric circulation is found from 1958 to 1977.

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Young-Oh Kwon and Terrence M. Joyce

Abstract

Spatial and temporal covariability between the atmospheric transient eddy heat fluxes (i.e., 〈υT′〉 and 〈υq′〉) in the Northern Hemisphere winter (January–March) and the paths of the Gulf Stream (GS), Kuroshio Extension (KE), and Oyashio Extension (OE) are examined based on an atmospheric reanalyses and ocean observations for 1979–2009.

For the climatological winter mean, the northward heat fluxes by the synoptic (2–8 days) transient eddies exhibit canonical storm tracks with their maxima collocated with the GS and KE/OE. The intraseasonal (8 days–3 months) counterpart, while having overall similar amplitude, shows a spatial pattern with more localized maxima near the major orography and blocking regions. Lateral heat flux divergence by transient eddies as the sum of the two frequency bands exhibits very close coupling with the exact locations of the ocean fronts.

Linear regression is used to examine the lead–lag relationship between interannual changes in the northward heat fluxes by the transient eddies and the meridional changes in the paths of the GS, KE, and OE, respectively. One to three years prior to the northward shifts of each ocean front, the atmospheric storm tracks shift northward and intensify, which is consistent with wind-driven changes of the ocean. Following the northward shifts of the ocean fronts, the synoptic storm tracks weaken in all three cases. The zonally integrated northward heat transport by the synoptic transient eddies increases by ~5% of its maximum mean value prior to the northward shift of each ocean front and decreases to a similar amplitude afterward.

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Claude Frankignoul, Guillaume Gastineau, and Young-Oh Kwon

Abstract

Maximum covariance analysis of a preindustrial control simulation of the NCAR Community Climate System Model, version 4 (CCSM4), shows that a barotropic signal in winter broadly resembling a negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) follows an intensification of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) by about 7 yr. The delay is due to the cyclonic propagation along the North Atlantic Current (NAC) and the subpolar gyre of a SST warming linked to a northward shift and intensification of the NAC, together with an increasing SST cooling linked to increasing southward advection of subpolar water along the western boundary and a southward shift of the Gulf Stream (GS). These changes result in a meridional SST dipole, which follows the AMOC intensification after 6 or 7 yr. The SST changes were initiated by the strengthening of the western subpolar gyre and by bottom torque at the crossover of the deep branches of the AMOC with the NAC on the western flank of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the GS near the Tail of the Grand Banks, respectively. The heat flux damping of the SST dipole shifts the region of maximum atmospheric transient eddy growth southward, leading to a negative NAO-like response. No significant atmospheric response is found to the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO), which is broadly realistic but shifted south and associated with a much weaker meridional SST gradient than the AMOC fingerprint. Nonetheless, the wintertime atmospheric response to the AMOC shows some similarity with the observed response to the AMO, suggesting that the ocean–atmosphere interactions are broadly realistic in CCSM4.

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Amélie Simon, Claude Frankignoul, Guillaume Gastineau, and Young-Oh Kwon

Abstract

The direct response of the cold-season atmospheric circulation to the Arctic sea ice loss is estimated from observed sea ice concentration (SIC) and an atmospheric reanalysis, assuming that the atmospheric response to the long-term sea ice loss is the same as that to interannual pan-Arctic SIC fluctuations with identical spatial patterns. No large-scale relationship with previous interannual SIC fluctuations is found in October and November, but a negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)/Arctic Oscillation follows the pan-Arctic SIC fluctuations from December to March. The signal is field significant in the stratosphere in December, and in the troposphere and tropopause thereafter. However, multiple regressions indicate that the stratospheric December signal is largely due to concomitant Siberian snow-cover anomalies. On the other hand, the tropospheric January–March NAO signals can be unambiguously attributed to SIC variability, with an Iceland high approaching 45 m at 500 hPa, a 2°C surface air warming in northeastern Canada, and a modulation of blocking activity in the North Atlantic sector. In March, a 1°C northern Europe cooling is also attributed to SIC. An SIC impact on the warm Arctic–cold Eurasia pattern is only found in February in relation to January SIC. Extrapolating the most robust results suggests that, in the absence of other forcings, the SIC loss between 1979 and 2016 would have induced a 2°–3°C decade−1 winter warming in northeastern North America and a 40–60 m decade−1 increase in the height of the Iceland high, if linearity and perpetual winter conditions could be assumed.

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