Sustained intensification of the Aleutian Low induces weak tropical Pacific sea surface warming

Dow, William J., McKenna, Christine M., Joshi, Manoj M. ORCID:, Blaker, Adam T., Rigby, Richard and Maycock, Amanda C. (2024) Sustained intensification of the Aleutian Low induces weak tropical Pacific sea surface warming. Weather and Climate Dynamics, 5 (1). 357–367. ISSN 2698-4016

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It has been proposed that externally forced trends in the Aleutian Low can induce a basin-wide Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) response that projects onto the pattern of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). To investigate this hypothesis, we apply local atmospheric nudging in an intermediate-complexity climate model to isolate the effects of an intensified winter Aleutian Low sustained over several decades. An intensification of the Aleutian Low produces a basin-wide SST response with a similar pattern to the model's internally generated PDO. The amplitude of the SST response in the North Pacific is comparable to the PDO, but in the tropics and southern subtropics the anomalies induced by the imposed Aleutian Low anomaly are a factor of 3 weaker than for the internally generated PDO. The tropical Pacific warming peaks in boreal spring, though anomalies persist year-round. A heat budget analysis shows the northern subtropical Pacific SST response is predominantly driven by anomalous surface turbulent heat fluxes in boreal winter, while in the equatorial Pacific the response is mainly due to meridional heat advection in boreal spring. The propagation of anomalies from the extratropics to the tropics can be explained by the seasonal footprinting mechanism, involving the wind–evaporation–SST feedback. The results show that low-frequency variability and trends in the Aleutian Low could contribute to basin-wide anomalous Pacific SST, but the magnitude of the effect in the tropical Pacific, even for the extreme Aleutian Low forcing applied here, is small. Therefore, external forcing of the Aleutian Low is unlikely to account for observed decadal SST trends in the tropical Pacific in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Code availability: The nudging code used in the analysis can be found here: (Blaker et al., 2023). Data availability: Underlying model data found in this paper are available from the corresponding author upon request. HadISST data are available here: (Rayner et al., 2003). Financial support: This research has been supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (grant no. NE/L002574/1) and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (grant no. 820829, CONSTRAIN project). Amanda C. Maycock received funding from The Leverhulme Trust.
Uncontrolled Keywords: sdg 13 - climate action ,/dk/atira/pure/sustainabledevelopmentgoals/climate_action
Faculty \ School: University of East Anglia Research Groups/Centres > Theme - ClimateUEA
Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Climatic Research Unit
Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences
University of East Anglia Schools > Faculty of Science > Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
Faculty of Science > Research Centres > Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2024 18:40
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2024 01:20
DOI: 10.5194/wcd-5-357-2024


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