CR 70:19-27 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01412

Is summer sea surface temperature over the Arctic Ocean connected to winter air temperature over North America?

Masayo Ogi1,*, Søren Rysgaard1,2,3, David G. Barber1, Tetsu Nakamura4,5, Bunmei Taguchi6,7

1Centre for Earth Observation Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg R3T 2N2, Canada
2Greenland Climate Research Centre, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, Nuuk 570 3900, Greenland
3Arctic Research Centre, Aarhus University, Aarhus 8000, Denmark
4Arctic Environmental Research Center, National Institute of Polar Research, Tachikawa 190-8518, Japan
5Faculty of Environmental Earth Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-0810, Japan
6Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 153-8904, Japan
7Application Laboratory, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Yokohama 236-0001, Japan
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Focusing on the extremely cold winter of 2013-2014 over North America, we used both reanalysis datasets and an atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) to examine the relationship between changes in the Arctic Ocean during the summer and atmospheric circulations over North America during the subsequent winter. In the reanalysis datasets, air temperatures over North America were extremely cold during the winter of 2013-2014, while summer sea surface temperatures (SST) over the Barents Sea in 2013 were anomalously warm. This relationship is not limited to 2013–2014; we found that the interannual variability of SST over the Barents Sea is significantly correlated with the atmospheric circulations and air temperatures over North America during the winter. Also, positive SST anomalies over the Barents Sea during summer persist through autumn and winter. These results indicate that variations in Barents Sea SST have a memory longer than a season, and hence are important for the interseasonal link from summer to winter, which is likely related to the atmosphere and temperature anomalies in the following winter. AGCM experiments driven by the observed SST and sea ice concentration successfully reproduced the warmer temperature over the Barents Sea from summer to winter. The winter large-scale atmospheric anomalies in the experiments were similar to observed atmospheric anomalies in the winter of 2013-2014. Finally, both our observational analysis and the model experiments suggest that the summer to autumn Barents Sea SST, rather than Arctic sea ice anomalies, may hold a key to predicting the winter atmospheric circulation and the winter air temperature over North America.


KEY WORDS: Arctic Ocean · Summer SST · North America · Winter air temperature · Cold winter · Extreme climate event · Interannual variation


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Cite this article as: Ogi M, Rysgaard S, Barber DG, Nakamura T, Taguchi B (2016) Is summer sea surface temperature over the Arctic Ocean connected to winter air temperature over North America?. Clim Res 70:19-27. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01412

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