Combined influences of seasonal East Atlantic Pattern and North Atlantic Oscillation to excite Atlantic multidecadal variability in a climate model

Abstract

The physical processes underlying the internal component of the Atlantic Multidecadal Variability (AMV) are investigated from a 1,000-yr pre-industrial control simulation of the CNRM-CM5 model. The low-frequency fluctuations of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) are shown to be the main precursor for the model AMV. The full life cycle of AMOC/AMV events relies on a complex time-evolving relationship with both North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and East Atlantic Pattern (EAP) that must be considered from a seasonal perspective in order to isolate their action; the ocean is responsible for setting the multidecadal timescale of the fluctuations. AMOC rise leading to a warm phase of AMV is statistically preceded by wintertime NAO+ and EAP+ from ~Lag −40/−20 yrs. Associated wind stress anomalies induce an acceleration of the subpolar gyre (SPG) and enhanced northward transport of warm and saline subtropical water. Concurrent positive salinity anomalies occur in the Greenland–Iceland–Norwegian Seas in link to local sea-ice decline; those are advected by the Eastern Greenland Current to the Labrador Sea participating to the progressive densification of the SPG and the intensification of ocean deep convection leading to AMOC strengthening. From ~Lag −10 yrs prior an AMOC maximum, opposite relationship is found with the NAO for both summer and winter seasons. Despite negative lags, NAO− at that time is consistent with the atmospheric response through teleconnection to the northward shift/intensification of the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone in link to the ongoing warming of tropical north Atlantic basin due to AMOC rise/AMV build-up. NAO− acts as a positive feedback for the full development of the model AMV through surface fluxes but, at the same time, prepares its termination through negative retroaction on AMOC. Relationship between EAP+ and AMOC is also present in summer from ~Lags −30/+10 yrs while winter EAP− is favored around the AMV peak. Based on additional atmospheric-forced experiments, both are interpreted as the local seasonal-dependent atmospheric response to warmer North Atlantic. Finally, advection of fresher water from the tropical basin created by local atmosphere/ocean anomalous circulation on one hand and from the Arctic on the other hand due to large-scale sea ice melting leads to decrease of density in the SPG and contributes terminating the model AMOC/AMV events. All together, the combined effects of NAO and EAP, their intertwined seasonal forcing/forced role upon/by the ocean and the primary role of salinity anomalies associated with oceanic dynamical changes acting as an integrator are responsible in CNRM-CM5 for an irregular and damped mode of variability for AMOC/AMV that takes about 35–40 (15–20) years to build up (dissipate).

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Acknowledgments

The authors are very grateful to Julie Dehayes for having computing ocean transects used in our study and Elodie Fernandez for her help in handling model outputs. We thank Laurent Terray for stimulating discussion and Juliette Mignot, Hervé Douville and Laurent Dubus for their suggestions. Thanks to the two anonymous reviewers whose comments clearly helped improving the manuscript. The figures were produced with the NCAR Command Language (NCL) Software (doi:10.5065/D6WD3XH5NCL). This work was supported by Cerfacs, CNRS, EDF and GICC (Gestion des Impacts du Changement Climatique) via the EPIDOM project under contract 10-MCGOT-GICC-7-CVS-131.

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Correspondence to Yohan Ruprich-Robert.

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Ruprich-Robert, Y., Cassou, C. Combined influences of seasonal East Atlantic Pattern and North Atlantic Oscillation to excite Atlantic multidecadal variability in a climate model. Clim Dyn 44, 229–253 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-014-2176-7

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Keywords

  • Atlantic Multidecadal Variability (AMV)
  • Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC)
  • North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)
  • East Atlantic Pattern (EAP)
  • Ocean–atmosphere interactions
  • Internal climate variability