Pan-Atlantic decadal climate oscillation linked to ocean circulation
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionCommunications Earth & Environment. 2023, 4, 121. 10.1038/s43247-023-00781-x
Atlantic climate displays an oscillatory mode at a period of 10–15 years described as pan-Atlantic decadal oscillation. Prevailing theories on the mode are based on thermodynamic air-sea interactions and the role of ocean circulation remains uncertain. Here we uncover ocean circulation variability associated with the pan-Atlantic decadal oscillation using observational datasets from 1900–2009. Specifically, a sea level-derived index of ocean circulation also exhibits 10-15 year periodicity and leads the surface climate oscillation. The underlying ocean circulation links the extratropical and tropical Atlantic, where the maximum variance in surface-ocean temperature feeds back on the North Atlantic Oscillation (the leading mode of atmospheric variability over the North Atlantic region). Our findings imply that, rather than a passive role postulated by the thermodynamic paradigm, ocean circulation across the Atlantic plays an active role for the pan-Atlantic decadal climate oscillation.