National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2018

AMO forcing of multidecadal Pacific ITCZ variability

Levine, A.F.Z., D.M.W. Frierson, and M.J. McPhaden

J. Climate, 31(14), 5749–5764, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-17-0810.1, View online (2018)

The Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) has been shown to play a major role in the multidecadal variability of the Northern Hemisphere, impacting temperature and precipitation, including intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ)-driven precipitation across Africa and South America. Studies into the location of the intertropical convergence zone have suggested that it resides in the warmer hemisphere, with the poleward branch of the Hadley cell acting to transport energy from the warmer hemisphere to the cooler one. Given the impact of the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation on Northern Hemisphere temperatures, we expect the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation to have an impact on the location of the intertropical convergence zone. We find that the positive phase of the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation warms the Northern Hemisphere, resulting in a northward shift of the intertropical convergence zone, which is evident in the Pacific climate proxy record. Using a coupled climate model, we further find that the shift in the intertropical convergence zone is consistent with the surface energy imbalance generated by the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation. In this model, the Pacific changes are driven in large part by the warming of the tropical Atlantic and not the extratropical Atlantic.

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