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On the Origin of Planetary-Scale Extratropical Winter Circulation Regimes

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
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Abstract

Sectorial and planetary-scale winter circulation regimes are studied and the relationship between them is investigated in order to find how much the simultaneous occurrence of sectorial regimes contributes to the occurrence of hemispheric regimes. The strategy is based on the multivariate Gaussian mixture model. The number of components in the model is estimated using two approaches. The first one is based on arguments from order statistics of the mixture proportions and the second uses a more severe test based on reproducibility. The procedure is applied next to the 500-hPa height field over the North Pacific, the North Atlantic, and the Northern Hemisphere using the empirical orthogonal function state space. Two highly significant regimes are found in each case, namely, the Pacific–North America (pattern) (±PNA)–North Atlantic Oscillation (±NAO) for the hemisphere—±PNA for the Pacific sector and ±NAO for the Atlantic sector. The sectorial regimes reflect mainly blocking and no-blocking flows. The results are tested further by applying a spatial clustering algorithm and are found to be consistent, particularly along the regime axes in the system state space. The relationship between hemispheric and sectorial circulation regimes is investigated. The data in each sector are first classified and then the times of simultaneous occurrence of sectorial regimes are identified. A new hemispheric dataset is then obtained by discarding maps corresponding to those co-occurrence times, and a new regime analysis is conducted. The results show that the hemispheric regime behavior has significantly decreased, suggesting that synchronization between sectorial circulation regimes could play an important role in the occurrence of planetary circulation regimes. The interannual variability of regime events is also discussed.

Corresponding author address: A. Hannachi, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6BB, United Kingdom. Email: a.hannachi@reading.ac.uk

Abstract

Sectorial and planetary-scale winter circulation regimes are studied and the relationship between them is investigated in order to find how much the simultaneous occurrence of sectorial regimes contributes to the occurrence of hemispheric regimes. The strategy is based on the multivariate Gaussian mixture model. The number of components in the model is estimated using two approaches. The first one is based on arguments from order statistics of the mixture proportions and the second uses a more severe test based on reproducibility. The procedure is applied next to the 500-hPa height field over the North Pacific, the North Atlantic, and the Northern Hemisphere using the empirical orthogonal function state space. Two highly significant regimes are found in each case, namely, the Pacific–North America (pattern) (±PNA)–North Atlantic Oscillation (±NAO) for the hemisphere—±PNA for the Pacific sector and ±NAO for the Atlantic sector. The sectorial regimes reflect mainly blocking and no-blocking flows. The results are tested further by applying a spatial clustering algorithm and are found to be consistent, particularly along the regime axes in the system state space. The relationship between hemispheric and sectorial circulation regimes is investigated. The data in each sector are first classified and then the times of simultaneous occurrence of sectorial regimes are identified. A new hemispheric dataset is then obtained by discarding maps corresponding to those co-occurrence times, and a new regime analysis is conducted. The results show that the hemispheric regime behavior has significantly decreased, suggesting that synchronization between sectorial circulation regimes could play an important role in the occurrence of planetary circulation regimes. The interannual variability of regime events is also discussed.

Corresponding author address: A. Hannachi, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6BB, United Kingdom. Email: a.hannachi@reading.ac.uk

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