Skip to main content
Log in

The role of the solar cycle in the relationship between the North Atlantic Oscillation and Northern Hemisphere surface temperatures

  • Published:
Advances in Atmospheric Sciences Aims and scope Submit manuscript


The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is one of the leading modes of climate variability in the Northern Hemisphere. It has been shown that it clearly relates to changes in meteorological variables, such as surface temperature, at hemispherical scales. However, recent studies have revealed that the NAO spatial pattern also depends upon solar forcing. Therefore, its effects on meteorological variables must vary depending upon this factor. Moreover, it could be that the Sun affects climate through variability patterns, a hypothesis that is the focus of this study. We find that the relationship between the NAO/AO and hemispheric temperature varies depending upon solar activity. The results show a positive significant correlation only when solar activity is high. Also, the results support the idea that solar activity influences tropospheric climate fluctuations in the Northern Hemisphere via the fluctuations of the stratospheric polar vortex.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Baldwin, M. P., and T. Dunkerton, 1999: Propagation of the Arctic Oscillation from the stratosphere to the troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 104, 30937–30946.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Baliunas, S., and W. Soon, 1995: Are variations in the length of the activity cycle related to changes in brightness in solar-type stars? The Astronomical Journal, 450, 896–901.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bojariu, R., and L. Gimeno, 2003: The role of snow cover fluctuations in multiannual NAO persistence. Geophys. Res. Lett., 30(4), 1156, doi:10.1029/2002GL015651.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Friss-Christensen, E., and K. Lassen, 1991: Length of the solar cycle: An indicator of solar activity closely associated with climate. Science, 254, 698–700.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gimeno, L., L. de la Torre, R. Nieto, R. García, E. Hernández, and P. Ribera, 2003: Changes in the relationship NAO-Northern Hemisphere Temperature due to solar activity. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 206, 15–20.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hood, L. L., I. L. Jirikowic, and J. P. McCormack, 1993: Quasi-decadal variability of the stratosphere influence of long-term solar ultraviolet variations. J. Atmos. Sci., 50, 3941–3958.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hoyt, D. V., and H. Schatten, 1997: The Role of Sun in Climate Change. Oxford University Press, 288pp.

  • Hurrell, J. W., 1995: Decadal trends in the North Atlantic Oscillation: regional temperatures and precipitationScience, 269, 676–679.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jones, P. D., 1994: Hemispheric surface air temperature variations: Analysis and an update to 1993. J. Climate, 7, 1794–1802.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jones, P. D., T. D. Johnsson, and D. Wheeler, 1997: Extension to the North Atlantic Oscillation using early instrumental pressure observations from Gibraltar and south-west Iceland. International Journal of Climatology, 17, 1433–1450.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kodera, K., 2002: Solar cycle modulation of the North Atlantic Oscillation: Implication in the spatial structure of the NAO. Geophys. Res. Lett., 29, 14557–14560.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kodera, K., and Y. Kuroda, 2005: A possible mechanism of solar modulation of the spatial structure of the North Atlantic Oscillation. J. Geophys. Res., 110, doi:10.1029/2004JD005258.

    Google Scholar 

  • Labitzke, K., 2001: The global signal of the 11-year sunspot cycle in the stratosphere: Differences between solar maxima and minima. Meteor. Z., 10, 83–90.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Li Jianping, and Julian X. L. Wang, 2003a: A new North Atlantic Oscillation index and its variability. Adv. Atmos. Sci., 20(5), 661–676.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Li, J., and J. Wang, 2003b: A modified zonal index and its physical sense. Geophys. Res. Lett., 30(12), 1632, doi:10.1029/2003GL017441.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rind, D., 2002: The Sun’s role in climate variations. Science, 296, 673–677.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ruzmaikin, A., and J. Feynman, 2002: Solar influence on a major mode of atmospheric variability. J. Geophys. Res., 107, D14, doi:10.1029/2001JD001239.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rybansky, M., V. Rusin, P. Gaspar, and R. C. Altrock, 1994: Coronal index of solar activity VII, Years 1988–1991. Solar Physics, 152, 487–495.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Thompson, D. W., and J. M. Wallace, 1998: The Arctic Oscillation signature in the winter geopotential height and temperature fields. Geophys. Res. Lett., 25, 1297–1300.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Thompson, D. W., and J. M. Wallace, 2000: Annular modes in the extratropical circulation Part I: Month to month variability. J. Climate, 3(5), 1000–1016.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tobiska, W. K, T. Woods, F. Eparvier, R. Viereck, L. Floyd, D. Bouwer, G. Rottman, and O. R. White, 2000: The SOLAR2000 empirical solar irradiance model and forecast tool. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, 62, 1233–1250.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • van Loon, H., and J. C. Rogers, 1978: The seesaw in winter temperatures between Greenland and northern Europe, Part 1: General description. Mon. Wea. Rev., 109, 296–310.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

De La Torre, L., Gimeno, L., Añel, J.A. et al. The role of the solar cycle in the relationship between the North Atlantic Oscillation and Northern Hemisphere surface temperatures. Adv. Atmos. Sci. 24, 191–198 (2007).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key words