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https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2020-16
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2020-16
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 11 May 2020

Submitted as: research article | 11 May 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal OS.

Assessment of responses of North Atlantic winter SST to the NAO in 13 CMIP5 models on the interannual scale

Yujie Jing1,2, Yangchun Li1,2, and Yongfu Xu1,2 Yujie Jing et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Boundary Layer Physics and Atmospheric Chemistry, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China
  • 2Department of Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Sciences, College of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

Abstract. This study evaluates the response of winter-averaged sea surface temperature (SST) to the winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) simulated by 13 CMIP5 Earth System Models in the North Atlantic (NA) (0–65° N) on the interannual scale. Only 7 models can reproduce an observed tripolar pattern of the response of SST anomalies to the NAO, and most of the models cannot generate the observed impact of variations of the turbulent heat flux on the response of SST anomalies to the NAO. In the subpolar NA (45–65° N) where the influences of sensible/latent heat fluxes on SST are obvious, most of the models simulate a positive response of SST to the turbulent heat flux in the large area of this region, which is opposite to the observations, and probably generate the incorrect positive response of SST to the NAO in some models. In the subtropical NA (25–45° N), the observations show a significant influence of latent heat flux (LHF) on SST, but the overestimated oceanic role in the interaction of the LHF and SST in most CMIP5 models results in an incorrect positive response of SST anomalies to the LHF anomalies in a large area of the subtropical NA. Besides the turbulent heat flux, the meridional advection is also important to the change of the SST in the NA. The analysis of the simulated and observed results shows that NAO-driven meridional advection can cause the increase/decrease of SST during the positive phase of the NAO in the subtropical/subpolar NA. This is probably one of the main causes why the models can simulate the realistic positive response of SST anomalies to the NAO in the subtropical NA, but the strength of the positive response is relatively weak.

Yujie Jing et al.

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Yujie Jing et al.

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Latest update: 07 Jul 2020
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Short summary
The Earth System Models in the CMIP5 are widely used to study climate change, so the accuracy of models should be evaluated in key areas such as the North Atlantic where the relationship between the winter sea surface temperature (SST) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is very important. Our results show that the link between the SST and the NAO-driven turbulent heat fluxes cannot be well simulated by most models, leading to that models cannot reproduce the observed NAO–SST relationship.
The Earth System Models in the CMIP5 are widely used to study climate change, so the accuracy of...
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