Two decades ago, in an interview with science journalist Richard Kerr for the journal Science, I coined the term the “Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation” (AMO) to describe an internal oscillation in the climate system resulting from interactions between North Atlantic ocean currents and wind patterns. These interactions were thought to lead to alternating decades-long intervals of warming and cooling centered in the extra-tropical North Atlantic that play out on 40-60 year timescales (hence the name). Think of the purported AMO as a much slower relative of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), with a longer timescale of oscillation (multidecadal rather than interannual) and centered in a different region (the North Atlantic rather than the tropical Pacific).
Today, in a research article published in the same journal Science, my colleagues and I have provided what we consider to be the most definitive evidence yet that the AMO doesn’t actually exist...
"There are several lessons in this tale. One is that scientists must always be open to revising past thinking. That is part of the critical scientific process—what the great Carl Sagan referred to as the “self-correcting machinery” of science."
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