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Multidecadal Variability of the Arctic-North Atlantic

PI: Uma Bhatt
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Observational data provide evidence that Atlantic Water (AW) temperature, arctic surface air temperature and pressure, ice extent and fast ice thickness in the Siberian marginal seas, sea level, and Barents Sea salinity display coherent low-frequency fluctuations that are closely tied to multidecadal variability in the Atlantic sector (Polyakov et al., 2002, 2003a, 2003b, 2004, 2005). A better understanding of the processes has emerged from the above observational studies and it has become clear that these large amplitude multidecadal fluctuations confound the calculation of climate trends. Separating the MDV and the anthropogenic influence on climate is essential for making future predictions.

In this project we propose to investigate the role of multidecadal variability and anthropogenic trends in IPCC CMIPIII models in the Arctic-North Atlantic Sector. Our observational analysis has revealed some intriguing relationships between the North Atlantic Oscillation and key climate parameters (Polyakova et al. 2006) in an attempt to understand why the NAO paradigm does not always operate. We have analyzed various simulations of the CCSM3 for multidecadal (Sterling, 2006) variability and propose to next analyze additional models from CMIPIII. This would provide us a better measure of which processes are well reproduced by current state-of-the-art models and strengths in one model would permit us to better understand the mechanisms behind what we see in observations.

We propose to begin the analysis using 20th Century and control simulations. Model spatial and temporal patterns of multi-decadal variability in the Atlantic and Arctic will be compared with our observational analysis. Mechanisms hypothesized from our previous observational work will be tested in the models. Additionally, future scenarios will be analyzed.

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