Surveys in Geophysics

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 321–381 | Cite as

North Atlantic Oscillation – Concepts And Studies

  • Heinz Wanner
  • Stefan Brönnimann
  • Carlo Casty
  • Dimitrios Gyalistras
  • Jürg Luterbacher
  • Christoph Schmutz
  • David B. Stephenson
  • Eleni Xoplaki


This paper aims to provide a comprehensive review of previous studies and concepts concerning the North Atlantic Oscillation. The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and its recent homologue, the Arctic Oscillation/Northern Hemisphere annular mode (AO/NAM), are the most prominent modes of variability in the Northern Hemisphere winter climate. The NAO teleconnection is characterised by a meridional displacement of atmospheric mass over the North Atlantic area. Its state is usually expressed by the standardised air pressure difference between the Azores High and the Iceland Low. ThisNAO index is a measure of the strength of the westerly flow (positive with strong westerlies, and vice versa). Together with the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon, the NAO is a major source of seasonal to interdecadal variability in the global atmosphere. On interannual and shorter time scales, the NAO dynamics can be explained as a purely internal mode of variability of the atmospheric circulation. Interdecadal variability maybe influenced, however, by ocean and sea-ice processes.

atmospheric circulation climate flow North Atlantic Oscillation 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heinz Wanner
    • 1
    • 2
  • Stefan Brönnimann
    • 1
    • 3
  • Carlo Casty
    • 1
  • Dimitrios Gyalistras
    • 1
  • Jürg Luterbacher
    • 1
    • 2
  • Christoph Schmutz
    • 1
  • David B. Stephenson
    • 4
  • Eleni Xoplaki
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Institute of GeographyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) in ClimateUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  3. 3.Lunar and Planetary LaboratoryUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  4. 4.Department of MeteorologyUniversity of ReadingReadingUK
  5. 5.Department of Meteorology and ClimatologyUniversity of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

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