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Keywords:

  • North Atlantic SST errors;
  • coupled models;
  • storm tracks

Abstract

Current state-of-the-art climate models fail to capture accurately the path of the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Current. This leads to a warm bias near the North American coast, where the modelled Gulf Stream separates from the coast further north, and a cold anomaly to the east of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, where the North Atlantic Current remains too zonal in this region. Using an atmosphere-only model forced with the sea surface temperature (SST) biases in the North Atlantic, we consider the impact they have on the mean state and the variability in the North Atlantic European region in winter. Our results show that the SST errors produce a mean sea-level pressure response that is similar in magnitude and pattern to the atmospheric circulation errors in the coupled climate model. The work also suggests that errors in the coupled model storm tracks and North Atlantic Oscillation, compared to reanalysis data, can also be explained partly by these SST errors. Our results suggest that both the error in the Gulf Stream separation location and the path of the North Atlantic Current around the Grand Banks play important roles in affecting the atmospheric circulation. Reducing these coupled model errors could improve significantly the representation of the large-scale atmospheric circulation of the North Atlantic and European region. Copyright © 2012 Royal Meteorological Society