The South Atlantic Anticyclone as a key player for the representation of the tropical Atlantic climate in coupled climate models

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Menajovsky Bonifaz, Maria Fernanda
Pacheco Torres, Victor Raul
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Springer Nature
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The key role of the South Atlantic Anticyclone (SAA) on the seasonal cycle of the tropical Atlantic is investigated with a regionally coupled atmosphere–ocean model for two different coupled domains. Both domains include the equatorial Atlantic and a large portion of the northern tropical Atlantic, but one extends southward, and the other northwestward. The SAA is simulated as internal model variability in the former, and is prescribed as external forcing in the latter. In the first case, the model shows significant warm biases in sea surface temperature (SST) in the Angola-Benguela front zone. If the SAA is externally prescribed, these biases are substantially reduced. The biases are both of oceanic and atmospheric origin, and are influenced by ocean–atmosphere interactions in coupled runs. The strong SST austral summer biases are associated with a weaker SAA, which weakens the winds over the southeastern tropical Atlantic, deepens the thermocline and prevents the local coastal upwelling of colder water. The biases in the basins interior in this season could be related to the advection and eddy transport of the coastal warm anomalies. In winter, the deeper thermocline and atmospheric fluxes are probably the main biases sources. Biases in incoming solar radiation and thus cloudiness seem to be a secondary effect only observed in austral winter. We conclude that the external prescription of the SAA south of 20°S improves the simulation of the seasonal cycle over the tropical Atlantic, revealing the fundamental role of this anticyclone in shaping the climate over this region.
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SST biases, South Atlantic Anticyclone, Southeastern tropical Atlantic, Seasonal cycle