On the Interpretation of the North Atlantic Averaged Sea Surface Temperature.

Sun, Jing , Latif, Mojib , Park, Wonsun and Park, Taewook (2020) On the Interpretation of the North Atlantic Averaged Sea Surface Temperature. Journal of Climate, 33 (14). pp. 6025-6045. DOI 10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0158.1.

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Abstract

The North Atlantic (NA) basin-averaged sea surface temperature (NASST) is often used as an index to study climate variability in the NA sector. However, there is still some debate on what drives it. Based on observations and climate models, an analysis of the different influences on the NASST index and its low-pass filtered version, the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) index, is provided. In particular, the relationships of the two indices with some of its mechanistic drivers including the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) are investigated. In observations, the NASST index accounts for significant SST variability over the tropical and subpolar NA. The NASST index is shown to lump together SST variability originating from different mechanisms operating on different time scales. The AMO index emphasizes the subpolar SST variability. In the climate models, the SST-anomaly pattern associated with the NASST index is similar. The AMO index, however, only represents pronounced SST variability over the extratropical NA, and this variability is significantly linked to the AMOC. There is a sensitivity of this linkage to the cold NA SST bias observed in many climate models. Models suffering from a large cold bias exhibit a relatively weak linkage between the AMOC and AMO and vice versa. Finally, the basin-averaged SST in its unfiltered form, which has been used to question a strong influence of ocean dynamics on NA SST variability, mixes together multiple types of variability occurring on different time scales and therefore underemphasizes the role of ocean dynamics in the multidecadal variability of NA SSTs.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Atmosphere-ocean interaction, Ocean circulation, Ocean dynamics, Thermocline circulation, Coupled models
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-ME Maritime Meteorology
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0158.1
ISSN: 0894-8755
Projects: CLIMPRE, RACE, Future Ocean
Expeditions/Models/Experiments:
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2020 07:44
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2020 08:00
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/50292

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