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The influence of North Atlantic atmospheric and oceanic forcing effects on 1900–2010 Greenland summer climate and ice melt/runoff

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Abstract

Correlation analysis of Greenland coastal weather station temperatures against the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) indices for the summer season (when Ice Sheet melt and runoff occur) reveals significant temporal variations over the last 100 years, with periods of strongest correlations in the early twentieth century and during recent decades. During the mid-twentieth century, temperature changes at the stations are not significantly correlated with these circulation indices. Greenland coastal summer temperatures and Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) runoff since the 1970s are more strongly correlated with the Greenland Blocking Index (GBI) than with the NAO Index (NAOI), making the GBI a potentially useful predictor of ice-sheet mass balance changes. Our results show that the changing strength of NAOI–temperature relationships found in boreal winter also extends to summer over Greenland. Greenland temperatures and GrIS runoff over the last 30–40 years are significantly correlated with AMO variations, although they are more strongly correlated with GBI changes. GrIS melt extent is less significantly correlated with atmospheric and oceanic index changes than runoff, which we attribute to the latter being a more quantitative index of Ice Sheet response to climate change. Moreover, the four recent warm summers of 2007–2010 are characterised by unprecedented high pressure (since at least 1948—the start of the NCEP/NCAR reanalysis record) in the tropospheric column. Our results suggest complex and changing atmospheric forcing conditions that are not well captured using the NAO alone, and support theories of an oceanic influence on the recent increases in Greenland temperatures and GrIS runoff. Copyright © 2012 Royal Meteorological Society

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