Articles | Volume 16, issue 3
Research article
26 Mar 2012
Research article |  | 26 Mar 2012

The Southern Annular Mode: a comparison of indices

M. Ho, A. S. Kiem, and D. C. Verdon-Kidd

Abstract. The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) has been identified as a climate mechanism with potentially significant impacts on the Australian hydroclimate. However, despite the identification of relationships between SAM and Australia's hydroclimate using certain data sets, and focussed on certain time periods, the association has not been extensively explored and significant uncertainties remain. One reason for this is the existence of numerous indices, methods and data sets by which SAM has been approximated. In this paper, the various SAM definitions and indices are reviewed and the similarities and discrepancies are discussed, along with the strengths and weaknesses of each index development approach. Further, the sensitivity of the relationship between SAM and Australian rainfall to choice of SAM index is quantified and recommendations are given as to the most appropriate index to use when assessing the impacts of the SAM on Australia's hydroclimate. Importantly this study highlights the need to consider the impact that the choice of SAM index, and data set used to calculate the index, has on the outcomes of any SAM attribution study.