AbstractHawaiian surface air temperature (HST) during summer 2015 (from July to October) was about 1.5°C higher than the climatological mean, which was the hottest since records began 1948. In the context of record-breaking seasonal-mean high temperature, 98 exceptional local heatwave days occurred during summer 2015. Based on diagnoses and simulations, we demonstrate in this paper that the record-high summer HST of 2015 arose mainly from the combined effects of the interannual and interdecadal variability of sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTA).The interannual variability of SSTA, with an El Niño-like pattern in the tropics and cold (warm) anomalies over the western (eastern) North Pacific, was the primary contributor to the abnormally high HST in summer 2015. This interannual tropical–extratropical SSTA pattern was accompanied by low-level southwesterly anomalies over the central North Pacific, which weakened the climatological northeasterly trade winds and reduced the ventilation effect, warming Hawaii. Numerical experiments further revealed that the SST warming in the subtropical eastern North Pacific was mostly responsible for the weakened trade winds and warming over Hawaii.Interdecadal SST warming in the tropics was a secondary factor. By superimposing the positive SSTA over the Indo-Pacific warm pool and tropical North Atlantic Ocean upon the climatological mean maximum SST regions, it was found that these anomalies led to enhanced convection over the Maritime Continent and the oceans around Mexico, causing anomalous subsidence and reduced cloud cover over the tropical central North Pacific. The reduced cloudiness increased the amount of downward solar radiation, thus warming Hawaii.
Journal of Climate – American Meteorological Society
Published: Mar 3, 2017
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