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Deser C., R. A. Tomas and S. Peng (September 2007): The transient atmospheric circulation response to North Atlantic SST and sea ice anomalies. J. Climate, 20 (18), 4751-4767. doi:10.1175/JCLI4278.1

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The objective of this study is to investigate the transient evolution of the wintertime atmospheric circulation response to imposed patterns of SST and sea ice extent anomalies in the North Atlantic sector using a large ensemble of experiments with the NCAR Community Climate Model version 3 (CCM3). The initial adjustment of the atmospheric circulation is characterized by an out-of-phase relationship between geopotential height anomalies in the lower and upper troposphere localized to the vicinity of the forcing. This initial baroclinic response reaches a maximum amplitude in 5–10 days, and persists for 2–3 weeks. Diagnostic results with a linear primitive equation model indicate that this initial response is forced by diabatic heating anomalies in the lower troposphere associated with surface heat flux anomalies generated by the imposed thermal forcing. Following the initial baroclinic stage of adjustment, the response becomes progressively more barotropic and increases in both spatial extent and magnitude. The equilibrium stage of adjustment is reached in 2–2.5 months, and is characterized by an equivalent barotropic structure that resembles the hemispheric North Atlantic Oscillation–Northern Annular Mode (NAO–NAM) pattern, the model’s leading internal mode of circulation variability over the Northern Hemisphere. The maximum amplitude of the equilibrium response is approximately 2–3 times larger than that of the initial response. The equilibrium response is primarily maintained by nonlinear transient eddy fluxes of vorticity (and, to a lesser extent, heat), with diabatic heating making a limited contribution in the vicinity of the forcing.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: PSD Publications
Divisions: Physical Sciences Division
DOI: 10.1175/JCLI4278.1