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Simulated Life Cycles of Persistent Anticyclonic Anomalies over the North Pacific: Role of Synoptic-Scale Eddies

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  • 1 Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
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Abstract

This study examines the role of synoptic-scale eddies during the development of persistent anticyclonic height anomalies over the central North Pacific in a general circulation model under perpetual January conditions. The GCM replicates the basic characteristics of the evolution of the anomaly patterns found in observations. The life cycle is characterized by the rapid establishment of the major anomaly center and considerably longer maintenance and decay phases, which include the development of downstream anomaly centers. The simulation also shows a realistic evolution of synoptic-scale activity beginning with enhanced activity off the east coast of Asia prior to onset, followed by a northward shift of the Pacific storm track, which lasts throughout the maintenance phase. The initial enhancement of synoptic-scale eddy activity is associated with a large-scale cyclonic anomaly that develops over Siberia several days prior to the onset of the main anticyclonic anomaly over the central North Pacific. The observations, however, show considerable interdecadel variability in the details of the composite onset behavior; it is unclear whether this variability is real or whether it reflects differences in the data assimilation systems.

The role of the time mean flow and synoptic-scale eddies in the development of the persistent Pacific anomalies is studied within the context of a kinetic energy budget in which the flow is decomposed into the time-mean, low-frequency (timescales longer than 10 days), and synoptic (timescales less than 6 days) components. The budget, which is carried out for the simulation at 500 mb, shows that the initial growth of the persistent anticyclonic anomalies is associated with barotropic conversions of energy, with approximately equal contributions coming from the mean flow and the synoptic-scale eddies. After onset the barotropic conversion from the mean flow dominates, whereas the decay phase is associated with baroclinic processes within the low-frequency flow.

Abstract

This study examines the role of synoptic-scale eddies during the development of persistent anticyclonic height anomalies over the central North Pacific in a general circulation model under perpetual January conditions. The GCM replicates the basic characteristics of the evolution of the anomaly patterns found in observations. The life cycle is characterized by the rapid establishment of the major anomaly center and considerably longer maintenance and decay phases, which include the development of downstream anomaly centers. The simulation also shows a realistic evolution of synoptic-scale activity beginning with enhanced activity off the east coast of Asia prior to onset, followed by a northward shift of the Pacific storm track, which lasts throughout the maintenance phase. The initial enhancement of synoptic-scale eddy activity is associated with a large-scale cyclonic anomaly that develops over Siberia several days prior to the onset of the main anticyclonic anomaly over the central North Pacific. The observations, however, show considerable interdecadel variability in the details of the composite onset behavior; it is unclear whether this variability is real or whether it reflects differences in the data assimilation systems.

The role of the time mean flow and synoptic-scale eddies in the development of the persistent Pacific anomalies is studied within the context of a kinetic energy budget in which the flow is decomposed into the time-mean, low-frequency (timescales longer than 10 days), and synoptic (timescales less than 6 days) components. The budget, which is carried out for the simulation at 500 mb, shows that the initial growth of the persistent anticyclonic anomalies is associated with barotropic conversions of energy, with approximately equal contributions coming from the mean flow and the synoptic-scale eddies. After onset the barotropic conversion from the mean flow dominates, whereas the decay phase is associated with baroclinic processes within the low-frequency flow.

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