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The Source of the Midwinter Suppression in Storminess over the North Pacific

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
  • | 2 Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
  • | 3 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
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Abstract

Feature-tracking techniques are employed to investigate why there is a relative minimum in storminess during winter within the Pacific storm track (the midwinter suppression). It is found that the frequency and amplitude of disturbances entering the Pacific storm track from midlatitude Asia are substantially reduced during winter relative to fall and spring and that the magnitude of this reduction is more than sufficient to account for the midwinter supression. Growth rates of individual disturbances are calculated and compared to expectations from linear theory for several regions of interest. Although there are discrepancies between linear expectations and observed growth rates over the Pacific, the growth of disturbances within the Pacific storm track cannot explain why the midwinter suppression exists. Furthermore, it is determined that the development of a wintertime reduction in storminess over midlatitude Asia is consistent with linear expectations, which predict a wintertime minimum in Eady growth rates in this region, mainly because of increased static stability. Several other mechanisms that may contribute to the initiation of the midwinter suppression over midlatitude Asia are discussed, including the interaction between upper-level waves and topography, the behavior of waves upwind of the Tibetan Plateau, and the initiation of lee cyclones.

Corresponding author address: Sandra Penny, Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, 408 ATG Bldg., Box 351640, Seattle, WA 98195-1640. Email: smpenny@atmos.washington.edu

A comment reply has been published regarding this article and can be found at http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/2011JCLI3987.1 and http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/2011JCLI4187.1

Abstract

Feature-tracking techniques are employed to investigate why there is a relative minimum in storminess during winter within the Pacific storm track (the midwinter suppression). It is found that the frequency and amplitude of disturbances entering the Pacific storm track from midlatitude Asia are substantially reduced during winter relative to fall and spring and that the magnitude of this reduction is more than sufficient to account for the midwinter supression. Growth rates of individual disturbances are calculated and compared to expectations from linear theory for several regions of interest. Although there are discrepancies between linear expectations and observed growth rates over the Pacific, the growth of disturbances within the Pacific storm track cannot explain why the midwinter suppression exists. Furthermore, it is determined that the development of a wintertime reduction in storminess over midlatitude Asia is consistent with linear expectations, which predict a wintertime minimum in Eady growth rates in this region, mainly because of increased static stability. Several other mechanisms that may contribute to the initiation of the midwinter suppression over midlatitude Asia are discussed, including the interaction between upper-level waves and topography, the behavior of waves upwind of the Tibetan Plateau, and the initiation of lee cyclones.

Corresponding author address: Sandra Penny, Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, 408 ATG Bldg., Box 351640, Seattle, WA 98195-1640. Email: smpenny@atmos.washington.edu

A comment reply has been published regarding this article and can be found at http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/2011JCLI3987.1 and http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/2011JCLI4187.1

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