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Drivers of exceptionally cold North Atlantic Ocean temperatures and their link to the 2015 European heat wave

Drivers of exceptionally cold North Atlantic Ocean temperatures and their link to the 2015 European heat wave
Drivers of exceptionally cold North Atlantic Ocean temperatures and their link to the 2015 European heat wave
The North Atlantic and Europe experienced two extreme climate events in 2015: exceptionally cold ocean surface temperatures and a summer heat wave ranked in the top ten over the past 65 years. Here, we show that the cold ocean temperatures were the most extreme in the modern record over much of the mid-high latitude North-East Atlantic. Further, by considering surface heat loss, ocean heat content and wind driven upwelling we explain for the first time the genesis of this cold ocean anomaly. We find that it is primarily due to extreme ocean heat loss driven by atmospheric circulation changes in the preceding two winters combined with the re-emergence of cold ocean water masses. Furthermore, we reveal that a similar cold Atlantic anomaly was also present prior to the most devastating European heat waves since the 1980s indicating that it is a common factor in the development of these extreme events. For the specific case of 2015, we show that the ocean anomaly is linked to a stationary position of the Jet Stream that favours the development of high surface temperatures over Central Europe during the heat wave. Our study calls for an urgent assessment of the impact of ocean drivers on major European summer temperature extremes in order to provide better advance warning measures of these high societal impact events.
1748-9326
1-9
Duchez, Aurelie
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Frajka-Williams, Eleanor
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Josey, Simon A.
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Evans, Dafydd G.
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Grist, Jeremy P.
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Marsh, Robert
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Mccarthy, Gerard D.
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Sinha, Bablu
544b5a07-3d74-464b-9470-a68c69bd722e
Berry, David I.
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Hirschi, Joel J.-M.
c8a45006-a6e3-4319-b5f5-648e8ef98906
Duchez, Aurelie
d73f2e60-bc41-4fb5-9686-6e12048a6f2d
Frajka-Williams, Eleanor
da86044e-0f68-4cc9-8f60-7fdbc4dc19cb
Josey, Simon A.
2252ab7f-5cd2-49fd-a951-aece44553d93
Evans, Dafydd G.
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Grist, Jeremy P.
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Marsh, Robert
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Mccarthy, Gerard D.
99241bcb-5667-469d-b7ae-4d308d516bd6
Sinha, Bablu
544b5a07-3d74-464b-9470-a68c69bd722e
Berry, David I.
55ffc590-f459-49c8-aecf-842d65aeb0fb
Hirschi, Joel J.-M.
c8a45006-a6e3-4319-b5f5-648e8ef98906

Duchez, Aurelie, Frajka-Williams, Eleanor, Josey, Simon A., Evans, Dafydd G., Grist, Jeremy P., Marsh, Robert, Mccarthy, Gerard D., Sinha, Bablu, Berry, David I. and Hirschi, Joel J.-M. (2016) Drivers of exceptionally cold North Atlantic Ocean temperatures and their link to the 2015 European heat wave. Environmental Research Letters, 11 (7), 1-9, [074004]. (doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/7/074004).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The North Atlantic and Europe experienced two extreme climate events in 2015: exceptionally cold ocean surface temperatures and a summer heat wave ranked in the top ten over the past 65 years. Here, we show that the cold ocean temperatures were the most extreme in the modern record over much of the mid-high latitude North-East Atlantic. Further, by considering surface heat loss, ocean heat content and wind driven upwelling we explain for the first time the genesis of this cold ocean anomaly. We find that it is primarily due to extreme ocean heat loss driven by atmospheric circulation changes in the preceding two winters combined with the re-emergence of cold ocean water masses. Furthermore, we reveal that a similar cold Atlantic anomaly was also present prior to the most devastating European heat waves since the 1980s indicating that it is a common factor in the development of these extreme events. For the specific case of 2015, we show that the ocean anomaly is linked to a stationary position of the Jet Stream that favours the development of high surface temperatures over Central Europe during the heat wave. Our study calls for an urgent assessment of the impact of ocean drivers on major European summer temperature extremes in order to provide better advance warning measures of these high societal impact events.

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Accepted/In Press date: 14 June 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 5 July 2016
Published date: 5 July 2016
Organisations: Marine Systems Modelling, Physical Oceanography, Marine Physics and Ocean Climate

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 397901
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/397901
ISSN: 1748-9326
PURE UUID: b5090e87-cb8c-42a8-9204-eb9d73746cad
ORCID for Eleanor Frajka-Williams: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-8773-7838

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 12 Jul 2016 14:45
Last modified: 28 Apr 2022 02:02

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Contributors

Author: Aurelie Duchez
Author: Eleanor Frajka-Williams ORCID iD
Author: Simon A. Josey
Author: Dafydd G. Evans
Author: Jeremy P. Grist
Author: Robert Marsh
Author: Gerard D. Mccarthy
Author: Bablu Sinha
Author: David I. Berry
Author: Joel J.-M. Hirschi

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