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Observed Patterns of Month-to-Month Storm-Track Variability and Their Relationship to the Background Flow

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  • 1 Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway, and Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
  • | 2 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
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Abstract

Month-to-month storm-track variability is investigated via EOF analyses performed on ERA-40 monthly-averaged high-pass filtered daily 850-hPa meridional heat flux and the variances of 300-hPa meridional wind and 500-hPa height. The analysis is performed both in hemispheric and sectoral domains of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Patterns characterized as “pulsing” and “latitudinal shifting” of the climatological-mean storm tracks emerge as the leading sectoral patterns of variability. Based on the analysis presented, storm-track variability on the spatial scale of the two Northern Hemisphere sectors appears to be largely, but perhaps not completely, independent.

Pulsing and latitudinally shifting storm tracks are accompanied by zonal wind anomalies consistent with eddy-forced accelerations and geopotential height anomalies that project strongly on the dominant patterns of geopotential height variability. The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)–Northern Hemisphere annular mode (NAM) is associated with a pulsing of the Atlantic storm track and a meridional displacement of the upper-tropospheric jet exit region, whereas the eastern Atlantic (EA) pattern is associated with a latitudinally shifting storm track and an extension or retraction of the upper-tropospheric jet. Analogous patterns of storm-track and upper-tropospheric jet variability are associated with the western Pacific (WP) and Pacific–North America (PNA) patterns. Wave–mean flow relationships shown here are more clearly defined than in previous studies and are shown to extend through the depth of the troposphere. The Southern Hemisphere annular mode (SAM) is associated with a latitudinally shifting storm track over the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans and a pulsing South Pacific storm track. The patterns of storm-track variability are shown to be related to simple distortions of the climatological-mean upper-tropospheric jet.

Corresponding author address: Justin J. Wettstein, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Allégaten 55, NO-5007 Bergen, Norway. Email: justin.wettstein@bjerknes.uib.no

Abstract

Month-to-month storm-track variability is investigated via EOF analyses performed on ERA-40 monthly-averaged high-pass filtered daily 850-hPa meridional heat flux and the variances of 300-hPa meridional wind and 500-hPa height. The analysis is performed both in hemispheric and sectoral domains of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Patterns characterized as “pulsing” and “latitudinal shifting” of the climatological-mean storm tracks emerge as the leading sectoral patterns of variability. Based on the analysis presented, storm-track variability on the spatial scale of the two Northern Hemisphere sectors appears to be largely, but perhaps not completely, independent.

Pulsing and latitudinally shifting storm tracks are accompanied by zonal wind anomalies consistent with eddy-forced accelerations and geopotential height anomalies that project strongly on the dominant patterns of geopotential height variability. The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)–Northern Hemisphere annular mode (NAM) is associated with a pulsing of the Atlantic storm track and a meridional displacement of the upper-tropospheric jet exit region, whereas the eastern Atlantic (EA) pattern is associated with a latitudinally shifting storm track and an extension or retraction of the upper-tropospheric jet. Analogous patterns of storm-track and upper-tropospheric jet variability are associated with the western Pacific (WP) and Pacific–North America (PNA) patterns. Wave–mean flow relationships shown here are more clearly defined than in previous studies and are shown to extend through the depth of the troposphere. The Southern Hemisphere annular mode (SAM) is associated with a latitudinally shifting storm track over the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans and a pulsing South Pacific storm track. The patterns of storm-track variability are shown to be related to simple distortions of the climatological-mean upper-tropospheric jet.

Corresponding author address: Justin J. Wettstein, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Allégaten 55, NO-5007 Bergen, Norway. Email: justin.wettstein@bjerknes.uib.no

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