, Volume 40, Issue 5-6, pp 1301-1318
Date: 24 Apr 2012

Multidecadal-to-centennial SST variability in the MPI-ESM simulation ensemble for the last millennium

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We assess the responses of North Atlantic, North Pacific, and tropical Indian Ocean Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) to natural forcing and their linkage to simulated global surface temperature (GST) variability in the MPI-Earth System Model simulation ensemble for the last millennium. In the simulations, North Atlantic and tropical Indian Ocean SSTs show a strong sensitivity to external forcing and a strong connection to GST. The leading mode of extra-tropical North Pacific SSTs is, on the other hand, rather resilient to natural external perturbations. Strong tropical volcanic eruptions and, to a lesser extent, variability in solar activity emerge as potentially relevant sources for multidecadal SST modes’ phase modulations, possibly through induced changes in the atmospheric teleconnection between North Atlantic and North Pacific that can persist over decadal and multidecadal timescales. Linkages among low-frequency regional modes of SST variability, and among them and GST, can remarkably vary over the integration time. No coherent or constant phasing is found between North Pacific and North Atlantic SST modes over time and among the ensemble members. Based on our assessments of how multidecadal transitions in simulated North Atlantic SSTs compare to reconstructions and of how they contribute characterizing simulated multidecadal regional climate anomalies, past regional climate multidecadal fluctuations seem to be reproducible as simulated ensemble-mean responses only for temporal intervals dominated by major external forcings.