Impact of multidecadal variability in Atlantic SST on winter atmospheric blocking
Ummenhofer, Caroline C.
Joyce, Terrence M.
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KeywordNorth Atlantic Ocean; Atmosphere-ocean interaction; Blocking; Climate variability; Multidecadal variability; North Atlantic Oscillation
Recent studies have suggested that coherent multidecadal variability exists between North Atlantic atmospheric blocking frequency and the Atlantic multidecadal variability (AMV). However, the role of AMV in modulating blocking variability on multidecadal times scales is not fully understood. This study examines this issue primarily using the NOAA Twentieth Century Reanalysis for 1901–2010. The second mode of the empirical orthogonal function for winter (December–March) atmospheric blocking variability in the North Atlantic exhibits oppositely signed anomalies of blocking frequency over Greenland and the Azores. Furthermore, its principal component time series shows a dominant multidecadal variability lagging AMV by several years. Composite analyses show that this lag is due to the slow evolution of the AMV sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies, which is likely driven by the ocean circulation. Following the warm phase of AMV, the warm SST anomalies emerge in the western subpolar gyre over 3–7 years. The ocean–atmosphere interaction over these 3–7-yr periods is characterized by the damping of the warm SST anomalies by the surface heat flux anomalies, which in turn reduce the overall meridional gradient of the air temperature and thus weaken the meridional transient eddy heat flux in the lower troposphere. The anomalous transient eddy forcing then shifts the eddy-driven jet equatorward, resulting in enhanced Rossby wave breaking and blocking on the northern flank of the jet over Greenland. The opposite is true with the AMV cold phases but with much shorter lags, as the evolution of SST anomalies differs in the warm and cold phases.
© The Author(s), 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Kwon, Y., Seo, H., Ummenhofer, C. C., & Joyce, T. M. Impact of multidecadal variability in Atlantic SST on winter atmospheric blocking. Journal of Climate, 33(3), (2020): 867-892, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0324.1.
Suggested CitationKwon, Y., Seo, H., Ummenhofer, C. C., & Joyce, T. M. (2020). Impact of multidecadal variability in Atlantic SST on winter atmospheric blocking. Journal of Climate, 33(3), 867-892.
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