Recent multivariate changes in the North Atlantic climate system, with a focus on 2005–2016

Jon Robson*, Rowan T. Sutton, Alex Archibald, Fenwick Cooper, Matthew Christensen, Lesley J. Gray, N. Penny Holliday, Claire Macintosh, Malcolm McMillan, Ben Moat, Maria Russo, Rachel Tilling, Ken Carslaw, Damien Desbruyères, Owen Embury, Daniel L. Feltham, Daniel P. Grosvenor, Simon Josey, Brian King, Alastair LewisGerard D. McCarthy, Chris Merchant, Adrian L. New, Christopher H. O'Reilly, Scott M. Osprey, Katie Read, Adam Scaife, Andrew Shepherd, Bablu Sinha, David Smeed, Doug Smith, Andrew Ridout, Tim Woollings, Mingxi Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Major changes are occurring across the North Atlantic climate system, including in the atmosphere, ocean and cryosphere, and many observed changes are unprecedented in instrumental records. As the changes in the North Atlantic directly affect the climate and air quality of the surrounding continents, it is important to fully understand how and why the changes are taking place, not least to predict how the region will change in the future. To this end, this article characterizes the recent observed changes in the North Atlantic region, especially in the period 2005–2016, across many different aspects of the system including: atmospheric circulation; atmospheric composition; clouds and aerosols; ocean circulation and properties; and the cryosphere. Recent changes include: an increase in the speed of the North Atlantic jet stream in winter; a southward shift in the North Atlantic jet stream in summer, associated with a weakening summer North Atlantic Oscillation; increases in ozone and methane; increases in net absorbed radiation in the mid-latitude western Atlantic, linked to an increase in the abundance of high level clouds and a reduction in low level clouds; cooling of sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic subpolar gyre, concomitant with increases in the western subtropical gyre, and a decline in the Atlantic Ocean's overturning circulation; a decline in Atlantic sector Arctic sea ice and rapid melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet. There are many interactions between these changes, but these interactions are poorly understood. This article concludes by highlighting some of the key outstanding questions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5050-5076
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Climatology
Issue number14
Early online date5 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

© 2018 The Authors.


  • atmosphere
  • atmospheric composition
  • cryosphere
  • observations
  • ocean, north atlantic

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