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Modelling the Air-Sea Coupling Over the North Atlantic Ocean

Paper Reviewed
Yang, Y. and Wu, L. 2015. Changes of air-sea coupling in the North Atlantic over the 20th century. Advances in Atmospheric Sciences 32: 445-456.

In a paper published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, Yang and Wu (2015) describe how they investigated changes in air-sea coupling that occurred over the North Atlantic Ocean (NAO) during the 20th century by means of both observational data and climate model simulations. And in discussing their work on this subject, they report that the ocean-to-air feedback over the North Atlantic was significantly intensified in the second half of the 20th century, and that "this coupled feedback is characterized by the association between summer North Atlantic Horseshoe (NAH) SST [sea surface temperature] anomalies and the following winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). But after all was said and done, they were forced to report that "most IPCC AR4 climate models fail to capture the observed NAO/NAH coupled feedback."

As for what was responsible for this significant failure, the two Chinese researchers state that (1) "the poor ability of climate models in simulating the coupling between the winter atmosphere and preceding summer SST remains an obstacle in predicting the climate variability over the North Atlantic," while noting that (2) "only 2 out of 24 models can capture this coupling found in the observations during 1950-99," and that (3) "over half of the models fail to simulate the summer NAH pattern."

When all was said and done, therefore, Yang and Wu were forced to conclude that (4) "it remains a great challenge to improve model ability in simulating and predicting the North Atlantic climate variability."

Posted 2 July 2015