The signatures of large-scale patterns of atmospheric variability in Antarctic surface temperatures

Gareth J. Marshall, David W. J. Thompson

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We investigate the impact that the four principal large-scale patterns of Southern Hemisphere (SH) atmospheric circulation variability have on Antarctic surface air temperature (SAT): (1) the southern baroclinic annular mode (BAM), which is associated with variations in extratropical storm amplitude; (2) the Southern Annular Mode (SAM), associated with latitudinal shifts in the midlatitude jet; and (3) the two Pacific-South American patterns (PSA1 and PSA2), which are characterized by wave trains originating in the tropical Pacific that extend across the SH extratropics. A key aspect is the use of 35 years of daily observations and reanalysis data, which affords a sufficiently large sample size to assess the signatures of the circulation patterns in both the mean and variability of daily mean SAT anomalies. The BAM exerts the weakest influence on Antarctic SAT, albeit it is still important over select regions. Consistent with previous studies, the SAM is shown to influence SAT across most of the continent throughout the year. The PSA1 also affects SAT across almost all of Antarctica. Regionally, both PSA patterns can exert a greater impact on SAT than the SAM but also have a significantly weaker influence during summer, reflecting the seasonality of the SH response to El Niño–Southern Oscillation. The SAM and PSA patterns have distinct signatures in daily SAT variance that are physically consistent with their signatures in extratropical dynamic variability. The broad-scale climate linkages identified here provide benchmarks for interpreting the Antarctic climate response to future changes in tropical sea surface temperatures, ozone recovery, and greenhouse gas increases.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number7
Early online date27 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2016

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