Indian Ocean warming as a driver of the North Atlantic warming hole.
Over the past century, the subpolar North Atlantic experienced slight cooling or suppressed warming, relative to the background positive temperature trends, often dubbed the North Atlantic warming hole (NAWH). The causes of the NAWH remain under debate. Here we conduct coupled ocean-atmosphere simulations to demonstrate that enhanced Indian Ocean warming, another salient feature of global warming, could increase local rainfall and through teleconnections strengthen surface westerly winds south of Greenland, cooling the subpolar North Atlantic. In decades to follow however, this cooling effect would gradually vanish as the Indian Ocean warming acts to strengthen the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). We argue that the historical NAWH can potentially be explained by such atmospheric mechanisms reliant on surface wind changes, while oceanic mechanisms related to AMOC changes become more important on longer timescales. Thus, explaining the North Atlantic temperature trends and particularly the NAWH requires considering both atmospheric and oceanic mechanisms.