A general circulation ocean model has been used to study the formation and propagation mechanisms of North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)-generated temperature anomalies along the pathway of the North Atlantic Current (NAC). The NAO-like wind forcing generates temperature anomalies in the upper 440 m that propagate along the pathway of the NAC in general agreement with the observations. The analysis of individual components of the ocean heat budget reveals that the anomalies are primarily generated by the wind stress anomaly-induced oceanic heat transport divergence. After their generation they are advected with the mean current. Surface heat flux anomalies account for only one-third of the total temperature changes. Along the pathway of the NAC temperature anomalies of opposite signs are formed in the first and second halves of the pathway, a pattern called here the North Atlantic dipole (NAD). The response of the ocean depends fundamentally on R-t = (L/upsilon)/tau, the ratio between the time it takes for anomalies to propagate along the NAC [(L/upsilon) similar to 10 years] compared to the forcing period tau. The authors find that for NAO periods shorter than 4 years (R-t > 1) the response in the subpolar region is mainly determined by the local forcing. For NAO periods longer than 32 years (R-t < 1); however, the SST anomalies in the northeastern part of the NAD become controlled by ocean advection. In the subpolar region maximal amplitudes of the temperature response are found for intermediate (decadal) periods (R-t <similar to> 1) where the propagation of temperature anomalies constructively interferes with the local forcing. A comparison of the NAO-generated propagating temperature anomalies with those found in observations will be discussed.
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