Midlatitude Atmosphere–Ocean Interaction during El Niño. Part II: The Northern Hemisphere Atmosphere

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology and Center for Climatic Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
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Abstract

The influence of midlatitude air-sea interaction on the atmospheric anomalies associated with El Niño is investigated by coupling the Community Climate Model to a mixed-layer ocean model in the North Pacific. Prescribed El Niño conditions, warm sea surface temperatures (SST) in the tropical Pacific, cause a southward displacement and strengthening of the Aleutian Low. This results in enhanced (reduced) advection of cold Asian air over the west-central (northwest) Pacific and northward advetion of warm air over the eastern Pacific. Allowing air-sea feedback in the North Pacific slightly modified the El Niño–induced neu-surface wind, air temperature, and precipitation anomalies. The anomalous cyclonic circulation over the North Pacific is more concentric and shifted slightly to the east in the coupled simulations. Air-sea feedback also damped the air temperature anomalies over most of the North Pacific and reduced the precipitation rate above the cold SST anomaly that develops in the central Pacific.

The simulated North Pacific SST anomalies and the resulting Northern Hemisphere atmospheric anomalies are roughly one-third as large as those related to the prescribed El Niño conditions in a composite of five cases. The composite geopotential height anomalies associated with changes in the North Pacific SSTs have an equivalent baretropic structure and range from −65 m to 50 m at the 200-mb level. Including air-sea feedback in the North Pacific tended to damp the atmospheric anomalies caused by the prescribed El Niño conditions in the tropical Pacific. As a result, the zonally elongated geopotential height anomalies over the West Pacific are reduced and shifted to the cast. However, the atmospheric changes associated with the North Pacific SST anomalies vary widely among the five cases.

Abstract

The influence of midlatitude air-sea interaction on the atmospheric anomalies associated with El Niño is investigated by coupling the Community Climate Model to a mixed-layer ocean model in the North Pacific. Prescribed El Niño conditions, warm sea surface temperatures (SST) in the tropical Pacific, cause a southward displacement and strengthening of the Aleutian Low. This results in enhanced (reduced) advection of cold Asian air over the west-central (northwest) Pacific and northward advetion of warm air over the eastern Pacific. Allowing air-sea feedback in the North Pacific slightly modified the El Niño–induced neu-surface wind, air temperature, and precipitation anomalies. The anomalous cyclonic circulation over the North Pacific is more concentric and shifted slightly to the east in the coupled simulations. Air-sea feedback also damped the air temperature anomalies over most of the North Pacific and reduced the precipitation rate above the cold SST anomaly that develops in the central Pacific.

The simulated North Pacific SST anomalies and the resulting Northern Hemisphere atmospheric anomalies are roughly one-third as large as those related to the prescribed El Niño conditions in a composite of five cases. The composite geopotential height anomalies associated with changes in the North Pacific SSTs have an equivalent baretropic structure and range from −65 m to 50 m at the 200-mb level. Including air-sea feedback in the North Pacific tended to damp the atmospheric anomalies caused by the prescribed El Niño conditions in the tropical Pacific. As a result, the zonally elongated geopotential height anomalies over the West Pacific are reduced and shifted to the cast. However, the atmospheric changes associated with the North Pacific SST anomalies vary widely among the five cases.

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