Warming Of North Atlantic Affecting Jet Stream


Researchers have found that the North Atlantic jet stream in climate simulations of the future is largely affected by the North Atlantic warming hole.

The North Atlantic warming hole is the subpolar gyre of the North Atlantic ocean, an area of reduced warming.

Lack Of Warming

One of the projected consequences of the global climate change is the increase in the sea surface temperatures. However, colder sea-surface temperatures were documented in both global climate-model projections and observations within an area of rotating ocean currents just south of Greenland.

The results of the study were published in the Journal of Climate.

"It's called a hole because there is a lack of warming," said Melissa Gervais, assistant professor of meteorology and atmospheric science at Penn State.

"We found that this region of the ocean is a really important place for forcing the jet stream that goes across the North Atlantic Ocean."

Gervais used the Community Earth System model to investigate the impact of the North Atlantic warming hole on atmospheric circulation and midlatitude jets.

Melting Arctic Ice

The inundation of fresh water coming from melting Arctic sea ice is originally thought to be the cause of the slowdown of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. Apparently, the development of the North Atlantic warming hole is a major factor.

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation is a large system of ocean currents that carry warm water from the tropics northwards into the North Atlantic.

Preliminary research done by Gervais suggests that the more fresh water enters the ocean, the more it leads to surface cooling and changes in circulation patterns.

Gervais adds that the changes in SST patterns could have a major contribution on atmospheric circulation and the North Atlantic storm track in the future.

Climate Change And Jet Streams

Currently, scientists are concerned about the changes in storm tracks and weather patterns based on the relationship between jet streams and climate change. Jet streams are responsible for driving weather patterns and transporting air masses on the planet.

Although Gervais and her team expect a poleward shift and eastward elongation of the jet streams, there is a present tug-of-war between impacts of the arctic and impacts of the tropics.

The researchers ran simulations to explore how the development of the North Atlantic warming hole impacts the jet stream. Their results indicate that the NAWH plays an important role in midlatitude atmospheric circulation changes in the model's future climate simulations.

The U.S. Department of Energy and The National Science Foundation sponsored the research.

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