A dynamical fingerprint of tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures on the decadal-scale variability of cool-season Arctic precipitation



[1] The temporal and spatial characteristics of decadal-scale variability in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) cool-season (October–March) Arctic precipitation are identified from both the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) Merged Analysis of Precipitation (CMAP) and the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) precipitation data sets. This decadal variability is shown to be partly connected to the decadal-scale variations in tropical central Pacific sea surface temperatures (SSTs) that are primarily associated with a decadal modulation of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), i.e., transitions between periods favoring typical eastern Pacific warming (EPW) events and periods favoring central Pacific warming (CPW) events. Regression and composite analyses reveal that increases of central Pacific SSTs drive a stationary Rossby wave train that destructively interferes with the wave number-1 component of the extratropical planetary wave. This destructive interference is opposite to the mean effect of typical EPW on the extratropical planetary wave. It leads to suppressed upward propagation of wave energy into the polar stratosphere, a stronger stratospheric polar vortex, and a tendency toward a positive phase of the Arctic Oscillation (AO). The positive AO tendency is synchronized on the decadal scale with a poleward shift of the NH storm tracks, particularly in the North Atlantic. Storm track variations further induce changes in the amount of moisture transported into the Arctic by synoptic eddies. The fluctuations in the eddy moisture transport ultimately contribute to the observed decadal-scale variations in the total Arctic precipitation in the NH cool season.