On the relationship between synoptic wintertime atmospheric variability and path shifts in the Gulf Stream and the Kuroshio Extension
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KeywordSynoptic-scale processes; Winter/cool season; Atmospheric circulation; Boundary currents; Interannual variability
Coherent, large-scale shifts in the paths of the Gulf Stream (GS) and the Kuroshio Extension (KE) occur on interannual to decadal time scales. Attention has usually been drawn to causes for these shifts in the overlying atmosphere, with some built-in delay of up to a few years resulting from propagation of wind-forced variability within the ocean. However, these shifts in the latitudes of separated western boundary currents can cause substantial changes in SST, which may influence the synoptic atmospheric variability with little or no time delay. Various measures of wintertime atmospheric variability in the synoptic band (2–8 days) are examined using a relatively new dataset for air–sea exchange [Objectively Analyzed Air–Sea Fluxes (OAFlux)] and subsurface temperature indices of the Gulf Stream and Kuroshio path that are insulated from direct air–sea exchange, and therefore are preferable to SST. Significant changes are found in the atmospheric variability following changes in the paths of these currents, sometimes in a local fashion such as meridional shifts in measures of local storm tracks, and sometimes in nonlocal, broad regions coincident with and downstream of the oceanic forcing. Differences between the North Pacific (KE) and North Atlantic (GS) may be partly related to the more zonal orientation of the KE and the stronger SST signals of the GS, but could also be due to differences in mean storm-track characteristics over the North Pacific and North Atlantic.
Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2009. This article is posted here by permission of American Meteorological Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Climate 22 (2009): 3177–3192, doi:10.1175/2008JCLI2690.1.
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