CR 74:171-184 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01495

Role of Weddell Sea ice in South Atlantic atmospheric variability

Yushi Morioka1,*, Francois Engelbrecht2,3, Swadhin K. Behera

1Application Laboratory, JAMSTEC, Yokohama, Japan
2Natural Resources & the Environment, CSIR, Pretoria, South Africa
3School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: We investigated the role of Weddell Sea ice in atmospheric variability over the South Atlantic by conducting observational data analysis and coupled general circulation model (CGCM) experiments. Weddell Sea ice exhibits a pronounced interannual variability in early austral summer (November-January). Low sea-ice concentration (SIC) anomalies in the Weddell Sea are strongly associated with anticyclonic atmospheric circulation anomalies in the South Atlantic. Composite analysis reveals that the low SIC anomalies in the Weddell Sea may be attributed to increased solar radiation and northwesterly wind anomalies. The low SIC anomalies, in turn, contribute to warmer skin temperature in the band of 60-70°S and enhance the near-surface atmospheric stability north of this band, implying favorable conditions for sustaining the anticyclonic circulation anomalies in the South Atlantic. This intriguing association between the SIC and atmospheric circulation anomalies is also simulated in CGCM experiments, e.g. when the interannual sea surface temperature variability in the tropics and mid-latitudes is suppressed. These results suggest that Weddell Sea ice, which may undergo interannual variation via air-sea-ice interactions in the high latitudes, influences atmospheric variability over the South Atlantic.


KEY WORDS: Air–sea–ice interaction · Interannual variability · South Atlantic · Atmospheric teleconnection · Coupled general circulation model


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Cite this article as: Morioka Y, Engelbrecht F, Behera SK (2017) Role of Weddell Sea ice in South Atlantic atmospheric variability. Clim Res 74:171-184. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01495

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