The latitudinal position of the Northern Hemisphere jet stream (NHJ) modulates the occurrence and frequency of extreme weather events. Precipitation anomalies in particular are associated with NHJ variability; the resulting floods and droughts can have considerable societal and economic impacts. This study develops a new climatology of the 300-hPa NHJ using a bottom-up approach based on seasonally explicit latitudinal NHJ positions. Four seasons with coherent NHJ patterns were identified (January–February, April–May, July–August, and October–November), along with 32 longitudinal sectors where the seasonal NHJ shows strong spatial coherence. These 32 longitudinal sectors were then used as NHJ position indices to examine the influence of seasonal NHJ position on the geographical distribution of NH precipitation and temperature variability and their link to atmospheric circulation pattern. The analyses show that the NHJ indices are related to broad-scale patterns in temperature and precipitation variability, in terrestrial vegetation productivity and spring phenology, and can be used as diagnostic/prognostic tools to link ecosystem and socioeconomic dynamics to upper-level atmospheric patterns.
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Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/EI-D-16-0023.s1.