Weakened SST variability in the tropical Atlantic Ocean since 2000

Prigent, Arthur, Lübbecke, Joke F., Bayr, Tobias, Latif, Mojib and Wengel, Christian (2020) Weakened SST variability in the tropical Atlantic Ocean since 2000 Climate Dynamics . DOI 10.1007/s00382-020-05138-0.

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Abstract

A prominent weakening in equatorial Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST) variability, occurring around the year 2000, is investigated by means of observations, reanalysis products and the linear recharge oscillator (ReOsc) model. Compared to the time period 1982–1999, during 2000–2017 the May–June–July SST variability in the eastern equatorial Atlantic has decreased by more than 30%. Coupled air–sea feedbacks, namely the positive Bjerknes feedback and the negative net heat flux damping are important drivers for the equatorial Atlantic interannual SST variability. We find that the Bjerknes feedback weakened after 2000 while the net heat flux damping increased. The weakening of the Bjerknes feedback does not appear to be fully explainable by changes in the mean state of the tropical Atlantic. The increased net heat flux damping is related to an enhanced response of the latent heat flux to the SST anomalies (SSTa). Strengthened trade winds as well as warmer SSTs are suggested to increase the air–sea specific humidity difference and hence, enhancing the latent heat flux response to SSTa. A combined effect of those two processes is proposed to be responsible for the weakened SST variability in the eastern equatorial Atlantic. The ReOsc model supports the link between reduced SST variability, weaker Bjerknes feedback and stronger net heat flux damping.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Atlantic Niño; Bjerknes feedback; Net heat flux damping; Ocean and atmosphere dynamics
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-ME Maritime Meteorology
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-PO Physical Oceanography
OceanRep > SFB 754
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1007/s00382-020-05138-0
ISSN: 0930-7575
Projects: SFB754, BANINO
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2020 11:58
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2020 11:58
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/48958

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