Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



2015 American Meteorological Society



DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00413.1


Idealized model experiments using the NCAR CESM1.0.5 under equinox conditions are designed and performed to address two fundamental questions about the effects of the sea surface temperature (SST) variation associated with the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) on circulation and precipitation in North America and Europe: 1) Is the observed relationship between the AMOSST and the warm-season precipitation in North America a statistical coincidence? and 2)Why is the response of negative precipitation anomaly to warm SST in the AMO fairly uniform across most of North America, whereas the positive precipitation anomaly in the cold SST rather spotty? Model experiments are done with either a warm or cold SST anomaly in an aqua planet, a planet with idealized continents, and a planet with both idealized continents and orography. Major results show that the atmospheric response to warm SST anomaly in the North Atlantic is fairly similar among the three sets of experiments. In the lower troposphere, the response has a significant negative geopotential anomaly from the SST anomaly center to the east and a positive geopotential anomaly in upstream North America. However, the response to the cold SST anomaly changes considerably among these experiments, particularly in North America. These results provide a foundation to answer the abovementioned two questions. First, they show that there is physical connection of the AMO SST and atmospheric circulation anomalies in North America. Moreover, the rather stable atmospheric response to the warm SST may explain the observed largely consistent response to the warm SST anomaly. The varying responses of the atmosphere to the cold SST indicate a strong sensitivity of the atmosphere to other forcings during the cold SST anomaly in the North Atlantic. This sensitivity could explain the varying and less stable response of the atmosphere to the cold SST during the AMO.