Is the decadal variability in the tropical Atlantic a precursor to the NAO?
In the past two decades climate research in the tropical Atlantic with respect to the inter-hemispheric gradient of sea surface temperature (SST) emphasized the predominance of decadal-scale variability. Our results show that this mode of variability is prevalent only for part of the last 130-years record (the 1880s, the 1920s and, especially, the 1970s). There is a lag of a few months between the decadal variations of the inter-hemispheric gradient of SST and the decadal variability of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). This seems to indicate that the 10-year variability first develops in the tropics and then propagates polewards. The inter-hemispheric gradient of SST mode should be thought as episodic and not as a periodic oscillation.