Combined effects of the North Atlantic Oscillation and the Arctic Oscillation on sea surface temperature in the Alborán Sea

We explored the possible effects of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO) on interannual sea surface temperature (SST) variations in the Albora´n Sea, both separately and combined. The probability of observing mean annual SST values higher than average was related to NAO and AO values of the previous year. The effect of NAO on SST was negative, while that of AO was positive. The pure effects of NAO and AO on SST are obscuring each other, due to the positive correlation between them. When decomposing SST, NAO and AO in seasonal values, we found that variation in mean annual SST and mean winter SST was significantly related to the mean autumn NAO of the previous year, while mean summer SST was related to mean autumn AO of the previous year. The one year delay in the effect of the NAO and AO on the SST could be partially related to the amount of accumulated snow, as we found a significant correlation between the total snow in the North Albora´n watershed for a year with the annual average SST of the subsequent year. A positive AO implies a colder atmosphere in the Polar Regions, which could favour occasional cold waves over the Iberian Peninsula which, when coupled with precipitations favoured by a negative NAO, may result in snow precipitation. This snow may be accumulated in the high peaks and melt down in spring-summer of the following year, which consequently increases the runoff of freshwater to the sea, which in turn causes a diminution of sea surface salinity and density, and blocks the local upwelling of colder water, resulting in a higher SST.