Impact of ENSO on the atmospheric variability over the North Atlantic in late Winter-Role of transient eddies

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The dynamical mechanism for the late-winter teleconnection between El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is examined using the output from a 2000-yr integration of a coupled general circulation model (GCM). The coupled model captures many salient features of the observed behavior of both ENSO and NAO, as well as their impact on the surface climate in late winter. Both the observational and model data indicate more occurrences of negative phase of NAO in late winter during El Niño events, and positive NAO in La Niña episodes. The potential role of high-frequency transient eddies in the above teleconnection is diagnosed. During El Niño winters, the intensified transient disturbances along the equatorward-shifted North Pacific storm track extend their influences farther downstream. The eddy-induced negative height tendencies are found to be more coherent and stronger over North Atlantic than that over North Pacific. These negative height tendencies over the North Atlantic are coincident with the southern lobe of NAO, and thus favor more occurrences of negative NAO events. During those El Niño winters with relatively strong SST warming in eastern equatorial Pacific, the eastward extension of eddy activity is reinforced by the enhanced near-surface baroclinicity over the subtropical eastern Pacific. This flow environment supports a stronger linkage between the Pacific and Atlantic storm tracks, and is more conducive to a negative NAO phase. These model results are supported by a parallel analysis of various observational datasets. It is further demonstrated that these transient eddy effects can be reproduced in atmosphericGCMintegrations subjected to ENSO-related SST forcing in the tropical Pacific.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-342
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • Atmospheric circulation
  • ENSO
  • Eddies
  • North Atlantic Oscillation
  • Storm tracks
  • Teleconnections


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