4B.3 Modeled and Observed Multidecadal Variability in the North Atlantic Jet Stream and Its Connection to Sea Surface Temperatures

Tuesday, 8 January 2019: 9:00 AM
North 122BC (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Isla R. Simpson, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and C. Deser, K. A. McKinnon, and E. A. Barnes

Multi-decadal variability in the North Atlantic jet stream in general circulation models (GCMs) is compared with that in reanalysis products of the 20th Century. It is found that almost all models exhibit multi-decadal jet stream variability that is entirely consistent with the sampling of white noise year-to-year atmospheric fluctuations. In the observed record, the variability displays a pronounced seasonality within the winter months, with greatly enhanced variability toward the late winter. This late winter variability exceeds that found in any GCM and greatly exceeds expectations from the sampling of atmospheric noise, motivating the need for an underlying explanation.

The potential roles of both external forcings and internal coupled ocean-atmosphere processes are considered. While the late winter variability is not found to be closely connected with external forcings, it is found to be strongly related to the internally generated component of Atlantic Multidecadal Variability (AMV) in Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs). In fact, consideration of the seasonality of the jet stream variability within the winter months reveals that the AMV variability is far more strongly connected to jet stream variability during March than the early winter months or the winter season as a whole. Reasoning will be put forward for why this connection likely represents a driving of the jet stream variability by the SSTs, although the dynamics involved remain to be understood. This analysis reveals a fundamental mismatch between late winter jet stream variability in observations and in GCMs and a potential source of long term predictability of the late winter Atlantic atmospheric circulation.

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