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Steven B. Feldstein

Abstract

The atmospheric dynamical processes that drive intraseasonal polar motion are examined with National Centers for Environmental Prediction–National Center for Atmospheric Research reanalysis data and with pole position data from the International Earth Rotation Service. The primary methodology involves the regression of different atmospheric variables against the polar motion excitation function.

A power spectral analysis of the polar motion excitation function finds a statistically significant peak at 10 days. Correlation calculations show that this peak is associated with the 10-day, first antisymmetric, zonal wavenumber 1, normal mode of the atmosphere. A coherency calculation indicates that the atmospheric driving of polar motion is mostly confined to two frequency bands, with periods of 7.5–13 and 13–90 days. Regressions of surface pressure reveal that the 7.5–13-day band corresponds to the 10-day atmospheric normal mode and the 13–90-day band to a quasi-stationary wave.

The regressions of pole position and the various torques indicate not only that the equatorial bulge torque dominates the mountain and friction torques but also that the driving by the equatorial bulge torque accounts for a substantial fraction of the intraseasonal polar motion. Furthermore, although the 10-day and quasi-stationary wave contributions to the equatorial bulge torque are similar, the response in the pole position is primarily due to the quasi-stationary wave.

Additional calculations of regressed power spectra and meridional heat fluxes indicate that the atmospheric wave pattern that drives polar motion is itself excited by synoptic-scale eddies. Regressions of pole position with separate torques from either hemisphere show that most of the pole displacement arises from the equatorial bulge torque from the winter hemisphere. Together with the above findings on wave–wave interactions, these results suggest that synoptic-scale eddies in the winter hemisphere excite the quasi-stationary wave, which in turn drives the polar motion through the equatorial bulge torque.

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Steven B. Feldstein

Abstract

The dynamical processes that drive intraseasonal equatorial atmospheric angular momentum (EAAM) fluctuations in a 4000-day aquaplanet GCM run are examined. The all-ocean lower boundary has a sea surface temperature field that is both independent of longitude and symmetric across the equator. Because of the absence of topography, the model includes an equatorial bulge and friction torque, but not a mountain torque. The methodology adopted is to regress variables such as surface pressure, streamfunction, precipitation, and the two torques against individual components and the amplitude of the EAAM vector.

The results indicate that the phase of the EAAM vector is associated with the westward propagation of a zonal wavenumber-1 midlatitude Rossby wave. This wave has characteristics that closely match those of a normal mode of the GCM and also those of the first antisymmetric rotational mode of the shallow water model on the sphere. Fluctuations in the amplitude of the EAAM vector are found to be related to the presence of a zonal wavenumber-1 mixed Rossby–gravity wave in the Tropics. The structure of the precipitation anomalies suggests that the latent heat release associated with the mixed Rossby–gravity wave excites poleward Rossby wave propagation, which alters the EAAM amplitude. The above dynamical processes are also found to determine the phase and amplitude of the equatorial bulge torque. It is this torque that dominates the driving of the EAAM. Lastly, the properties of the friction torque are discussed.

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Steven B. Feldstein

Abstract

This study uses NCEP–NCAR reanalysis data covering the boreal winters of 1958–97 to examine the power spectral, timescale, and climate noise properties of the dominant atmospheric teleconnection patterns. The patterns examined include the North Atlantic oscillation (NAO), the Pacific–North American (PNA), and west Pacific (WP) teleconnections, and a spatial pattern associated with ENSO. The teleconnection patterns are identified by applying a rotated principal component analysis to the daily unfiltered 300-mb geopotential height field. The NAO and PNA were found to be the two dominant patterns on all timescales.

The main finding is that the temporal evolution of the NAO, PNA, and WP teleconnections can be interpreted as being a stochastic (Markov) process with an e-folding timescale between 7.4 and 9.5 days. The time series corresponding to the ENSO spatial pattern did not match that of a Markov process, and thus a well-defined timescale could not be specified. The shortness of the above timescales indicates that the excitation of these teleconnection patterns is limited to a period of time less than a few days. These findings also suggest that in order to improve our understanding of the growth and decay mechanisms of teleconnection patterns, it is best to use daily, unfiltered data, rather than monthly or seasonally averaged data.

The signal (interannual variance due to external forcing) to noise (interannual variance from stochastic processes) ratios were also examined. For the NAO (PNA), the signal-to-noise ratio is 0.09 (1.11). This indicates that the interannual variability of the NAO (PNA) arises primarily from climate noise (both from climate noise and external forcing). An explanation for why the NAO and PNA dominate on interannual timescales is also presented.

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Steven B. Feldstein and Sukyoung Lee

Abstract

This paper describes the evolution of global angular momentum (GAM) on intraseasonal timescales in data from two general circulation model (GCM) runs: an aquaplanet GCM and a fully “realistic” GCM that includes continents, topography, and observed climatological sea surface temperatures.

For both GCMS, the angular momentum budget is quite well balanced. Composites of various quantities are calculated at different lags relative to the maximum GAM and GAM tendency. In both GCMS, this composite analysis shows that the GAM tendency is largest as a precipitation anomaly propagates eastward along the equator. Associated with this precipitation anomaly is a tropical circulation that shows some of the characteristics of the Gill model, particularly in the aquaplanet GCM, and a Rossby wave train that propagates from the Tropics into midlatitudes. It is the anomalous midiatitude surface wind field associated with this Rossby wave train that is primarily responsible for the anomalous friction torques in both models. In the realistic GCM, this Rossby wave train has the appropriate structure to induce a large mountain torque, particularly at the Rocky Mountains. Also, it is found that the friction and mountain torques contribute about equally to the intraseasonal evolution of GAM, with the anomalous friction torque leading the anomalous mountain torque by three days.

After the precipitation anomaly weakens, the Rossby wave train completely propagates out of the Tropics and leaves behind a pattern resembling that of a Kelvin wave. Consistent with this wave propagation, in both GCMS, eddies transport the angular momentum gained at the surface in midlatitudes toward the equator. Lastly, the effects of zonal inhomogencities on the wave dynamics associated with GAM evolution are discussed.

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Christian Franzke and Steven B. Feldstein

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This study presents an alternative interpretation for Northern Hemisphere teleconnection patterns. Rather than comprising several different recurrent regimes, this study suggests that there is a continuum of teleconnection patterns. This interpretation indicates either that 1) all members of the continuum can be expressed in terms of a linear combination of a small number of real physical modes that correspond to basis functions or 2) that most low-frequency patterns within the continuum are real physical patterns, each having its own spatial structure and frequency of occurrence.

Daily NCEP–NCAR reanalysis data are used that cover the boreal winters of 1958–97. A set of nonorthogonal basis functions that span the continuum is derived. The leading basis functions correspond to well-known patterns such as the Pacific–North American teleconnection and North Atlantic Oscillation. Evidence for the continuum perspective is based on the finding that 1) most members of the continuum tend to have similar variance and autocorrelation time scales and 2) that members of the continuum show dynamical characteristics that are intermediate between those of the surrounding basis functions. The latter finding is obtained by examining the streamfunction tendency equation both for the basis functions and some members of the continuum.

The streamfunction tendency equation analysis suggests that North Pacific patterns (basis functions and continuum) are primarily driven by their interaction with the climatological stationary eddies and that North Atlantic patterns are primarily driven by transient eddy vorticity fluxes. The decay mechanism for all patterns is similar, being due to the impact of low-frequency (period greater than 10 days) transient eddies and horizontal divergence. Analysis with outgoing longwave radiation shows that tropical convection is found to play a much greater role in exciting North Pacific patterns. A plausible explanation for these differences between the North Atlantic and North Pacific patterns is presented.

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Steven B. Feldstein and Sukyoung Lee

Abstract

This study uses cluster analysis to investigate the interdecadal poleward shift of the subtropical and eddy-driven jets and its relationship to intraseasonal teleconnections. For this purpose, self-organizing map (SOM) analysis is applied to the ECMWF Interim Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim) zonal-mean zonal wind. The resulting SOM patterns have time scales of 4.8–5.7 days and undergo notable interdecadal trends in their frequency of occurrence. The sum of these trends closely resembles the observed interdecadal trend of the subtropical and eddy-driven jets, indicating that much of the interdecadal climate forcing is manifested through changes in the frequency of intraseasonal teleconnection patterns.

Two classes of jet cluster patterns are identified. The first class of SOM pattern is preceded by anomalies in convection over the warm pool followed by changes in the poleward wave activity flux. The second class of patterns is preceded by sea ice and stratospheric polar vortex anomalies; when the Arctic sea ice area is reduced, the subsequent planetary wave anomalies destructively interfere with the climatological stationary waves. This is followed by a decrease in the vertical wave activity flux and a strengthening of the stratospheric polar vortex. An increase in sea ice area leads to the opposite chain of events. Analysis suggests that the positive trend in the Arctic Oscillation (AO) up until the early 1990s might be attributed to increased warm pool tropical convection, while the subsequent reversal in its trend may be due to the influence of tropical convection being overshadowed by the accelerated loss of Arctic sea ice.

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Steven B. Feldstein and Sukyoung Lee
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Michael Goss and Steven B. Feldstein

Abstract

Tropical precipitation anomalies associated with El Niño and Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) phase 1 (La Niña and MJO phase 5) are characterized by a tripole, with positive (negative) centers over the Indian Ocean and central Pacific and a negative (positive) center over the warm pool region. However, their midlatitude circulation responses over the North Pacific and North America tend to be of opposite sign. To investigate these differences in the extratropical response to tropical convection, the dynamical core of a climate model is used, with boreal winter climatology as the initial flow. The model is run using the full heating field for the above four cases, and with heating restricted to each of seven small domains located near or over the equator, to investigate which convective anomalies may be responsible for the different extratropical responses. An analogous observational study is also performed. For both studies, it is found that, despite having a similar tropical convective anomaly spatial pattern, the extratropical response to El Niño and MJO phase 1 (La Niña and MJO phase 5) is quite different. Most notably, responses with opposite-signed upper-tropospheric geopotential height anomalies are found over the eastern North Pacific, northwestern North America, and the southeastern United States. The extratropical response for each convective case most closely resembles that for the domain associated with the largest-amplitude precipitation anomaly: the central equatorial Pacific for El Niño and La Niña and the warm pool region for MJO phases 1 and 5.

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Steven B. Feldstein and Christian Franzke

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This study addresses the question of whether persistent events of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the Northern Annular Mode (NAM) teleconnection patterns are distinguishable from each other. Standard daily index time series are used to specify the amplitude of the NAO and NAM patterns. The above question is examined with composites of sea level pressure, and 300- and 40-hPa streamfunction, along with tests of field significance.

A null hypothesis is specified that the NAO and NAM persistent events are indistinguishable. This null hypothesis is evaluated by calculating the difference between time-averaged NAO and NAM composites. It is found that the null hypothesis cannot be rejected even at the 80% confidence level. The wave-breaking characteristics during the NAM life cycle are also examined. Both the positive and negative NAM phases yield the same wave-breaking properties as those for the NAO.

The results suggest that not only are the NAO and NAM persistent events indistinguishable, but that the NAO/NAM events are neither confined to the North Atlantic, nor are they annular.

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Woosok Moon and Steven B. Feldstein

Abstract

Baroclinic eddy life cycles of the Southern Hemisphere (SH) summer are investigated with NCEP–NCAR reanalysis data. A composite analysis is performed for the years 1980 through 2004. Individual life cycles are identified by local maxima in synoptic-scale eddy energy. Two types of baroclinic life cycles are examined, each defined by the strength of the barotropic energy conversion 2 days prior to the maximum baroclinic growth. For one life cycle, the barotropic conversion is anomalously weak before the maximum baroclinic growth; for the other, the barotropic conversion is anomalously strong. These two life cycles are referred to as the weak barotropic (WB) and strong barotropic (SB) life cycles.

The analyses for the WB life cycle find that a poleward anomalous wave activity flux is observed within the SH tropics and subtropics just before the initial growth of the synoptic-scale eddies. In contrast, the SB life cycle exhibits an equatorward anomalous wave activity flux prior to the initial wave development. For the WB life cycle, these changes in the wave activity flux are shown to induce a mean meridional circulation that weakens and broadens the midlatitude zonal mean jet and reduces the baroclinicity in the midlatitude lower troposphere. Opposite characteristics are observed for the SB life cycle. Since the eddy growth rate is found to be greater in the WB life cycle, these results suggest that the influences of the barotropic governor mechanism (a reduction in horizontal shear coinciding with more rapidly growing baroclinic eddies) and the midlatitude baroclinicity oppose each other at the beginning of the life cycle, with the former being dominant.

Both the WB and SB life cycles coincide with anomalous tropical convection. For the WB life cycle, there is a strengthening of the convection over the Maritime Continent, and for the SB life cycle there is a weakening in the convection over the same region. These results suggest that the two types of baroclinic life cycles are ultimately triggered by convection in the tropics.

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