Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version




DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00751.1


2016 American Meteorological Society


This is the second part of a two-part paper that addresses deterministic roles of the sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies associated with the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) in variations of atmospheric circulation and precipitation in the Northern Hemisphere, using a sequence of idealized model runs at the spring equinox conditions. This part focuses on the effect of the SST anomalies on North American pre- cipitation. Major results show that, in the model setting closest to the real-world situation, a warm SST anomaly in the North Atlantic Ocean causes suppressed precipitation in central, western, and northern North America but more precipitation in the southeast. A nearly reversed pattern of precipitation anomalies de- velops in response to the cold SST anomaly. Further examinations of these solutions reveal that the response to the cold SST anomaly is less stable than that to the warm SST anomaly. The former is ‘‘dynamically charged’’ in the sense that positive eddy kinetic energy (EKE) exists over the continent. The lack of precipitation in its southeast is because of an insufficient moisture supply. In addition, the results show that the EKE of the short- (2–6 day) and medium-range (7–10 day) weather-producing processes in North America have nearly opposite signs in response to the same cold SST anomaly. These competing effects of eddies in the dynamically charged environment (elevated sensitivity to moisture) complicate the circulation and precipitation responses to the cold SST anomaly in the North Atlantic and may explain why the model results show more varying precipitation anomalies (also confirmed by statistical test results) during the cold than the warm SST anomaly, as also shown in simulations with more realistic models. Results of this study indicate a need to include the AMO in the right context with other forcings in an effort to improve understanding of interannual-to-multidecadal variations in warm season precipitation in North America.