North Atlantic SST anomalies and the cold North European weather events of winter 2009/10 and December 2010

Buchan, Jian; Hirschi, Joel; Blaker, Adam; Sinha, Bablu. 2014 North Atlantic SST anomalies and the cold North European weather events of winter 2009/10 and December 2010. Monthly Weather Review, 142 (2). 922-932. 10.1175/MWR-D-13-00104.1

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Northern Europe experienced consecutive periods of extreme cold weather in the winter of 2009/2010 and in late 2010. These periods were characterised by a tripole pattern in North Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies and exceptionally negative phases of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). A global Ocean-Atmosphere General Circulation Model (OAGCM) is used to investigate the ocean’s role in influencing North Atlantic and European climate. Observed SST anomalies are used to force the atmospheric model and the resultant changes in atmospheric conditions over Northern Europe are examined. We observe differences between the atmospheric responses in the winter of 2009/2010 and the early winter of 2010. Our experiments suggest that North Atlantic SST anomalies did not significantly affect the development of the negative NAO phase in the cold winter of 2009/2010. However, in November and December 2010 the large-scale North Atlantic SST anomaly pattern leads to significant shift in the atmospheric circulation over the North Atlantic towards a NAO negative phase. Therefore, our results indicate that SST anomalies in November/December 2010 were particularly conducive to the development of a negative NAO phase which culminated in the extreme cold weather conditions experienced over Northern Europe in December 2010.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1175/MWR-D-13-00104.1
ISSN: 0027-0644
Date made live: 24 Sep 2013 14:30 +0 (UTC)

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