North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)
Data courtnesy of NOAA/Climate Prediction Center (CPC) .
The North Atlantic oscillation (NAO) is a climatic phenomenon in the North Atlantic Ocean of fluctuations in the difference of atmospheric pressure at sea level between the Icelandic low and the Azores high. Through east-west oscillation motions of the Icelandic low and the Azores high, it controls the strength and direction of westerly winds and storm tracks across the North Atlantic. It is highly correlated with the Arctic oscillation, as it is a part of it.
The NAO was discovered in the 1920s by Sir Gilbert Walker. Unlike the El Niño-Southern Oscillation phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean, the NAO is a largely atmospheric mode. It is one of the most important manifestations of climate fluctuations in the North Atlantic and surrounding humid climates.
The North Atlantic Oscillation is closely related to the Arctic oscillation (AO) or Northern Annular Mode (NAM), but should not be confused with the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).