Articles | Volume 22, issue 12
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 22, 7893–7904, 2022
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 22, 7893–7904, 2022
Research article
 | Highlight paper
17 Jun 2022
Research article  | Highlight paper | 17 Jun 2022

The Sun's role in decadal climate predictability in the North Atlantic

Annika Drews et al.

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Cited articles

Allan, R. and Ansell, T.: A New Globally Complete Monthly Historical Gridded Mean Sea Level Pressure Dataset (HadSLP2): 1850–2004, J. Climate, 19, 5816–5842,, 2006. 
Andrews, M. B., Knight, J. R., and Gray, L. J.: A simulated lagged response of the North Atlantic Oscillation to the solar cycle over the period 1960–2009, Environ. Res. Lett., 10, 054022,, 2015. 
Boer, G. J.: Long time-scale potential predictability in an ensemble of coupled climate models, Clim. Dynam., 23, 29–44,, 2004. 
Boer, G. J., Kharin, V. V., and Merryfield, W. J.: Decadal predictability and forecast skill, Clim. Dynam., 41, 1817–1833,, 2013. 
Executive editor
This paper by Drews et al. reports model simulations of the effect of the 11-year solar cycle on the atmospheric circulation and hence on year-to-year variations in weather patterns, . The physics of the effect of the solar cycle is complex, but one important mechanism is believed to be via the variation in short-wave radiation, which perturbs the ozone distribution in the upper stratosphere. The key development in this study is a good model representation of chemistry, radiation and dynamics and their interactions to enable the dynamical feedback processes, which  potentially communicate the direct physical effects of the solar cycle to the lower part of the atmosphere, to be adequately simulated. An important aspect of the paper is that the  authors exploit an ensemble of simulations that make it possible to distinguish a signal due to solar-cycle effects from natural weather variability. The results convincingly show a solar cycle effect, over the North Atlantic in particular, where variations in the circulation have important implications for the weather experienced in Europe. This is particularly the case in the current period (since 1950 or so) when the 11-year solar variation is strong relative to the entire historical record (starting in about 1850).  The results of this paper suggest that including solar cycle effects in models used for decadal climate predictions can provide worthwhile improvements in the skill of such predictions.
Short summary
Solar irradiance varies with a period of approximately 11 years. Using a unique large chemistry–climate model dataset, we investigate the solar surface signal in the North Atlantic and European region and find that it changes over time, depending on the strength of the solar cycle. For the first time, we estimate the potential predictability associated with including realistic solar forcing in a model. These results may improve seasonal to decadal predictions of European climate.
Final-revised paper