Robinson, W. A., S. Li, and S. Peng, 2003: Dynamical nonlinearity in the atmospheric response to Atlantic sea surface temperature anomalies. Geophys. Res. Lett., 30(20), 10.1029/2003GL018416, 4 pp.


Large ensembles (100 members) of atmospheric general circulation model experiments are forced throughout the Northern Hemisphere cold season by four different sea surface temperature (SST) fields: the observed climatology, the so-called SST tripole pattern, and its tropical and its extratropical subcomponents. Late winter responses to these anomalies are of modest amplitude, in comparison with the amplitudes of climatological stationary waves, but are, because of the large ensemble, significant. Despite their modest amplitudes, the responses display additive nonlinearity, in that the sum of the separate responses to the component anomalies differs significantly from the response to the tripole. Neither the heating field nor the basin averaged zonal winds display this nonlinearity. It is most evident in a sub-basin scale wave train, and most significant in its impact on the amplitude of the geopotential response. These results indicate that even for modest forcing, responses to patterns of SST anomalies cannot necessarily be understood as the sums of responses to constituent anomalies.