This research was supported by a grant from the NOAA/Climate Program Office and by the base funding of NOAA/AOML. We are indebted to D. Enfield for many scientific discussions and encouragement. Comments from D. Enfield, A. Mestas-Nuñez, R. Molinari, and A. Clement helped to improve the manuscript. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their useful suggestions, which led to a significant improvement of the paper. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the funding agency.
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