Stochastic forcing of north tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures by the NAO

  • 3 March 2014
  • Number of views: 5772

The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is a quickly changing, rapidly decorrelating process that strongly affects the climate over the Atlantic and the surrounding continents.

Although the NAO itself is basically unpredictable on seasonal timescales using statistical methods, NAO forcing can significantly affect sea surface temperatures (SSTs) evolving on those timescales.

In an article to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, researchers funded by NOAA's ESS program have shown that the NAO-generated forcing of SST during boreal winter and spring is responsible for more than half the statistically unpredictable component of SST in the main development region for Atlantic hurricanes during the subsequent summer and fall. 

Thus, seasonal forecasts of SST in that region might be improved if fast nonlinear NAO dynamics resolved by General Circulation Models could be predicted accurately enough to account for some of what seasonally averaged SSTs “see” as stochastic forcing.

This research was funded by CPO’s Climate Variability and Predictability program.

To view the full article, visit:




Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather. In 2017, the United States experienced a record-tying 16 climate- and weather-related disasters where overall costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. Combined, these events claimed 362 lives, and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted, costing more than $306 billion. Businesses, policy leaders, resource managers and citizens are increasingly asking for information to help them address such challenges.


Climate Program Office
1315 East-West Hwy, Suite 1100
Silver Spring, MD 20910