• On interannual variability and climate change in the north Pacific

      Salmon, David Kurt (1992-05)
      Long term changes in the atmospheric and oceanic environment of the North Pacific were investigated for the period 1946-1991. A climatology of North Pacific wind stress curl was developed because of the relevance of changes in wind stress curl to both oceanic and atmospheric variability. The dominant scales of spatial and temporal wind stress curl variability were determined and examined within the context of observed changes in North Pacific air temperature, sea surface temperature (SST), sea ice cover, oceanic mass transport and the occurrence of blocking anticyclones. Relationships between these variables and indices of tropical Pacific variability were also determined on interannual time scales. During 1976-1988, phase relationships were very strong between long term mean anomalies of wind stress curl, SST, air temperature, sea ice cover, The Pacific North American index, the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), and tropical Pacific SST. Long term mean anomalies of these parameters did not change sign during 1976-88. These strong phase relationships did not occur amongst these variables during any other period of the record. The 1976-1988 period is characterized by intensified storminess, the decreased occurrence of blocking anticyclones, and decreased sea ice cover in the subarctic North Pacific. Intensified atmospheric circulation also occurred in the western Pacific subtropical anticyclone. Anomalously low SST occurred across the central and western North Pacific during this period while anomalously high SST was present in the eastern North Pacific adjacent to North America. Changes in the sign of the long term mean anomalies of wind stress curl, central North Pacific SST and the SOI suggest that this climate regime ended or relaxed after 1988. After 1975, long term changes in anomalies of the Southern Oscillation Index, tropical Atlantic wind stress, Sahel rainfall, and Greenland Sea ice cover have characteristics similar to those observed in the North Pacific. It is suggested that the climate anomalies observed in the North Pacific during 1976-1988 occurred as part of a hemispheric or global scale climate regime.