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Patterns of Wintertime Jet Stream Variability and Their Relation to the Storm Tracks

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

A new approach is put forward for defining extratropical teleconnection patterns. The zonal wind field at 250 hPa is analyzed separately in the North Atlantic and North Pacific Ocean sectors during the winter season (December–March). Teleconnectivity of this field is found to be particularly strong. EOF analysis of the zonal wind field yields patterns that (i) are robust with respect to the range of frequencies included in the data, (ii) relate clearly to the position of the climatological-mean jets, and (iii) are broadly consistent with their traditionally defined counterparts in terms of climatic impacts. The patterns are characterized by a north–south shifting or an extension/retraction of the eddy-driven jet in its exit region and similar changes at the entrance region of the subtropical jet. The patterns also reflect the degree of separation between the subtropical and eddy-driven jets. Atlantic EOFs 1 and 2 are counterparts of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and eastern Atlantic pattern, respectively, while Pacific EOF 1 is the counterpart of the Pacific–North America (PNA) pattern. Pacific EOF 2, a pattern that has not been previously noted, has a pronounced impact on the jet configuration and precipitation over the western coast of North America. This pattern may be of particular interest for precipitation forecasting applications. Atlantic EOF 1 exhibits a long decorrelation time and strong negative skewness. The relation between these jet variability patterns and the storm-track variability is examined, including the dynamical interaction between baroclinic waves and the jets. In each sector, the eddy forcing is found to maintain the respective jet anomalies.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Panos J. Athanasiadis, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Box 351640, Seattle, WA 98195-1640. Email: panos@atmos.washington.edu

Abstract

A new approach is put forward for defining extratropical teleconnection patterns. The zonal wind field at 250 hPa is analyzed separately in the North Atlantic and North Pacific Ocean sectors during the winter season (December–March). Teleconnectivity of this field is found to be particularly strong. EOF analysis of the zonal wind field yields patterns that (i) are robust with respect to the range of frequencies included in the data, (ii) relate clearly to the position of the climatological-mean jets, and (iii) are broadly consistent with their traditionally defined counterparts in terms of climatic impacts. The patterns are characterized by a north–south shifting or an extension/retraction of the eddy-driven jet in its exit region and similar changes at the entrance region of the subtropical jet. The patterns also reflect the degree of separation between the subtropical and eddy-driven jets. Atlantic EOFs 1 and 2 are counterparts of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and eastern Atlantic pattern, respectively, while Pacific EOF 1 is the counterpart of the Pacific–North America (PNA) pattern. Pacific EOF 2, a pattern that has not been previously noted, has a pronounced impact on the jet configuration and precipitation over the western coast of North America. This pattern may be of particular interest for precipitation forecasting applications. Atlantic EOF 1 exhibits a long decorrelation time and strong negative skewness. The relation between these jet variability patterns and the storm-track variability is examined, including the dynamical interaction between baroclinic waves and the jets. In each sector, the eddy forcing is found to maintain the respective jet anomalies.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Panos J. Athanasiadis, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Box 351640, Seattle, WA 98195-1640. Email: panos@atmos.washington.edu

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