>An Interesting Correlation with North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre SST


While I was investigating North Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, an area of the North Atlantic kept coming up in papers: the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre. Refer to Figure 1. The red box (the borders for the data used in the following graphs) picks up the center of the “heart-shaped” gyre that’s located south of Greenland. The North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre includes the North Atlantic Drift, and the Irminger, Greenland and Labrador Currents. (The Irminger Current is not identified on the map, but it’s south and west of Iceland.)
Figure 1

There’s an interesting correlation between the cycles of the North Atlantic Gyre SST anomalies and those of another data set. I believe the explanation of this would have to come under the all-encompassing heading of teleconnections. But first let’s take a look at the…


Figure 2 illustrates the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre [45N-60N, 60W-30W] SST anomaly data from January 1854 to October 2008 that’s been smoothed with a 12-month running-average filter. The cycle is the first thing to catch the eye. The second: If trend lines were to be drawn from peak-to-peak and from trough-to-trough, they would be relatively flat. That is, there does not appear to be a significant, if any, underlying “global warming” trend. The curve almost appears to be a residual like the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).
Figure 2

Figures 3 and 4 illustrate the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre SST anomaly data smoothed with 37- and 85-month filters, to help minimize the noise.
Figure 3
Figure 4

In case someone was interested, in Figure 5, I’ve illustrated the short-term data (November 1981 to October 2008) as a comparative graph between ERSST.v2 data (used for the long term graphs) and OI.v2 SST data.
Figure 5


Keep in mind that in the following two graphs, SST data is being compared to scaled residual data.

The first thing one would think of when they see a cycle in any North Atlantic SST anomaly data would be the AMO. In looking at a comparative graph of the AMO (scaled) and the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre SST anomalies, Figure 6, the cycles do compare well after the early 1900s. But they are out of synch before then.
Figure 6

To my eye, and seeming to be counterintuitive, the timing of the cycles in the North Pacific Residual agree with those of the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre SST anomalies. Refer to Figure 7, which compares the North Pacific Residual (scaled) with the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre SST anomalies.
Figure 7

Or maybe the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre SST anomalies have been impacted by both over the term of the data. Could the dominant influence change with time?


Smith and Reynolds Extended Reconstructed SST Sea Surface Temperature Data (ERSST.v2) and the Optimally Interpolated Sea Surface Temperature Data (OISST) are available through the NOAA National Operational Model Archive & Distribution System (NOMADS).

About Bob Tisdale

Research interest: the long-term aftereffects of El Niño and La Nina events on global sea surface temperature and ocean heat content. Author of the ebook Who Turned on the Heat? and regular contributor at WattsUpWithThat.
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4 Responses to >An Interesting Correlation with North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre SST

  1. Goldfinger says:

    >Hi Bob1st post here….Correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to recall you have posted before that you havent read anything that connects the sun to ENSO. Have you read this article? http://climatechange1.wordpress.com/Its very interesting! I enjoy reading your thoughts on ENSO. We share the same opinions on it for the most part except for the sun’s role. You know much more about it than me. Mine is only a theory.

  2. Bob Tisdale says:

    >Thanks, Goldfinger, but, I have seen it. I’ve ammended your link since Erl and Carl will probably add more posts. http://climatechange1.wordpress.com/2008/11/21/the-enso-driver/

  3. Goldfinger says:

    >Amend all you want. :)So what do you think of the paper? I’ve always felt there has to be a link between the sun and some big weather system such as PDO. I think this is more reasonable than a direct link between the sun and Enso.

  4. Bob Tisdale says:

    >I believe there’s more to tne mechanics of the ENSO process, such as the build up of heat in the PWP. How much of it is solar related? How much of it is “recycled” heat from prior ENSO events? How much of it is heat from coastal upwellings? The hypothesis that part of the PWP heat is delivered from the Kuroshio region via subsurface currents needs to be addressed.

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