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The basic ingredients of the North Atlantic Storm Track. Part II: Sea surface temperatures

Brayshaw, D., Hoskins, B. and Blackburn, M. (2011) The basic ingredients of the North Atlantic Storm Track. Part II: Sea surface temperatures. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 68 (8). pp. 1784-1805. ISSN 0022-4928

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/2011JAS3674.1


The impact of North Atlantic SST patterns on the storm track is investigated using a hierarchy of GCM simulations using idealized (aquaplanet) and “semirealistic” boundary conditions in the atmospheric component (HadAM3) of the third climate configuration of the Met Office Unified Model (HadCM3). This framework enables the mechanisms determining the tropospheric response to North Atlantic SST patterns to be examined, both in isolation and in combination with continental-scale landmasses and orography. In isolation, a “Gulf Stream” SST pattern acts to strengthen the downstream storm track while a “North Atlantic Drift” SST pattern weakens it. These changes are consistent with changes in the extratropical SST gradient and near-surface baroclinicity, and each storm-track response is associated with a consistent change in the tropospheric jet structure. Locally enhanced near-surface horizontal wind convergence is found over the warm side of strengthened SST gradients associated with ascending air and increased precipitation, consistent with previous studies. When the combined SST pattern is introduced into the semirealistic framework (including the “North American” continent and the “Rocky Mountains”), the results suggest that the topographically generated southwest–northeast tilt in the North Atlantic storm track is enhanced. In particular, the Gulf Stream shifts the storm track south in the western Atlantic whereas the strong high-latitude SST gradient in the northeastern Atlantic enhances the storm track there.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
ID Code:25775
Publisher:American Meteorological Society

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