The North Atlantic Oscillation: Climatic Significance and Environmental Impact
Copyright 2003 by the American Geophysical Union.
Editor(s): James W. Hurrell, Yochanan Kushnir, Geir Ottersen, Martin Visbeck
Published Online: 19 MAR 2013
Print ISBN: 9780875909943
Online ISBN: 9781118669037
Book Series: Geophysical Monograph Series
About this Book
Published by the American Geophysical Union as part of the Geophysical Monograph Series, Volume 134.
Over the middle and high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere the most prominent and recurrent pattern of atmospheric variability is the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). The NAO refers to swings in the atmospheric sea level pressure difference between the Arctic and the subtropical Atlantic that are most noticeable during the boreal cold season (November-April) and are associated with changes in the mean wind speed and direction. Such changes alter the seasonal mean heat and moisture transport between the Atlantic and the neighboring continents, as well as the intensity and number of storms, their paths, and their weather. Significant changes in ocean surface temperature and heat content, ocean currents and their related heat transport, and sea ice cover in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions are also induced by changes in the NAO. Such climatic fluctuations affect agricultural harvests, water management, energy supply and demand, and fisheries yields. All these effects have led to many studies of the phenomenon; yet, despite this interest, unanswered questions remain regarding the climatic processes that govern NAO variability, how the phenomenon has varied in the past or will vary in the future, and whether it is at all predictable.