A Review of ENSO Influence on the North Atlantic. A Non-Stationary Signal

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The atmospheric seasonal cycle of the North Atlantic region is dominated by meridional movements of the circulation systems: from the tropics, where the West African Monsoon and extreme tropical weather events take place, to the extratropics, where the circulation is dominated by seasonal changes in the jetstream and extratropical cyclones. Climate variability over the North Atlantic is controlled by various mechanisms. Atmospheric internal variability plays a crucial role in the mid-latitudes. However, El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is still the main source of predictability in this region situated far away from the Pacific. Although the ENSO influence over tropical and extra-tropical areas is related to different physical mechanisms, in both regions this teleconnection seems to be non-stationary in time and modulated by multidecadal changes of the mean flow. Nowadays, long observational records (greater than 100 years) and modeling projects (e.g., CMIP) permit detecting non-stationarities in the influence of ENSO over the Atlantic basin, and further analyzing its potential mechanisms. The present article reviews the ENSO influence over the Atlantic region, paying special attention to the stability of this teleconnection over time and the possible modulators. Evidence is given that the ENSO–Atlantic teleconnection is weak over the North Atlantic. In this regard, the multidecadal ocean variability seems to modulate the presence of teleconnections, which can lead to important impacts of ENSO and to open windows of opportunity for seasonal predictability.
© 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license. We thank the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), the Met Office Hadley Centre and the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) for the Land Precipitation, reanalysis, SST and HURDAT2 datasets, respectively. Belen Rodríguez-Fonseca, Roberto Suárez-Moreno, Jorge López-Parages, Iñigo Gómara, Elsa Mohino, Teresa Losada and Antonio Castaño-Tierno are supported by the research projects PREFACE (EUFP7/2007-2013 Grant Agreement 603521) and MULCLIVAR (CGL2012-38923-C02-01-Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness). Blanca Ayarzagüena is supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (grant number NE/M006123/1). Julián Villamayor is granted through a scholarship from the MICINN—Spanish government (BES-2013-063821). Finally, we would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their pertinent comments and suggestions, which have contributed to improve this manuscript.
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