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Benjamin Pohl
and
Nicolas Fauchereau

Abstract

This article investigates the prominent features of the Southern Hemisphere (south of 20°S) atmospheric circulation when extracted using EOF analysis and a k-means clustering algorithm. The focus is on the southern annular mode (SAM), the nature of its recent trend, and the zonal symmetry of associated spatial patterns. The study uses the NCEP–Department of Energy Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project II Reanalysis (NCEP-2) (period 1979–2009) to obtain robust patterns over the recent years and the Twentieth Century Reanalysis Project (period 1871–2008) to document decadal changes. Also presented is a comparison of these signals against a station-based reconstruction of the SAM index and a gridded interpolated dataset [Hadley Centre Sea Level Pressure dataset version 2 (HadSLP2)].

Over their common period, both reanalyses are in fair agreement, both in terms of spatial patterns and temporal variability. In particular, both datasets show weather regimes that can be interpreted as the opposite phases of the SAM. At the decadal time scale, the study shows that the trend toward the positive SAM phase (as inferred from the usual EOF-based index) is related more to an increase in the frequency of clusters corresponding to the positive phase, with little changes in the frequency of the negative SAM events. Similarly, the long-term tropospheric warming trend already discussed in the literature is shown to be related more to a decrease in the number of abnormally cold days, with little changes in the number of abnormally warm days. The cluster analysis therefore allows for complement descriptions based on simple indexes or EOF decompositions, highlighting the nonlinear nature of the decadal changes in the Southern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation and temperature.

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Benjamin Pohl
and
Adrian J. Matthews

Abstract

The Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) is analyzed using the reanalysis zonal wind– and satellite outgoing longwave radiation–based indices of Wheeler and Hendon for the 1974–2005 period. The average lifetime of the MJO events varies with season (36 days for events whose central date occurs in December, and 48 days for events in September). The lifetime of the MJO in the equinoctial seasons (March–May and October–December) is also dependent on the state of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). During October–December it is only 32 days under El Niño conditions, increasing to 48 days under La Niña conditions, with similar values in northern spring. This difference is due to faster eastward propagation of the MJO convective anomalies through the Maritime Continent and western Pacific during El Niño, consistent with theoretical arguments concerning equatorial wave speeds.

The analysis is extended back to 1950 by using an alternative definition of the MJO based on just the zonal wind component of the Wheeler and Hendon indices. A rupture in the amplitude of the MJO is found in 1975, which is at the same time as the well-known rupture in the ENSO time series that has been associated with the Pacific decadal oscillation. The mean amplitude of the MJO is 16% larger in the postrupture (1976–2005) compared to the prerupture (1950–75) period. Before the 1975 rupture, the amplitude of the MJO is maximum (minimum) under El Niño (La Niña) conditions during northern winter, and minimum (maximum) under El Niño (La Niña) conditions during northern summer. After the rupture, this relationship disappears. When the MJO–ENSO relationship is analyzed using all-year-round data, or a shorter dataset (as in some previous studies), no relationship is found.

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Benjamin Pohl
,
Serge Janicot
,
Bernard Fontaine
, and
Romain Marteau

Abstract

Madden–Julian oscillations (MJOs) are extracted over the Indo-Pacific basin using a local mode analysis. The convective perturbations are then projected over a larger domain to evaluate their remote consequences over the West African monsoon (WAM) intraseasonal variability. Rather weak (4–6 W m−2) convective fluctuations occurring in phase with those over the southern Indian basin are found over Africa, confirming the results of Matthews. In reverse, 40-day fluctuations in the WAM, similarly detected and projected over a widened area, demonstrate that a large majority of these events are embedded in the larger-scale patterns of the MJO. The regional amplitude of intraseasonal perturbations of the West African convection is not statistically associated with the amplitude of the MJO over the Indian basin but is instead closely related to background vertical velocity anomalies over Africa, possibly embedded in changes in the regional Walker-type circulation. Subsiding motion over Africa is recorded during the most energetic convective perturbations in the WAM.

Composites analyses over the MJO life cycle, as depicted by the real-time daily indices developed by Wheeler and Hendon, show that positive outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) anomalies during the dry phase are of larger amplitude and spatially more coherent than negative anomalies during the wet phase, especially over the Sahel region. Over West Africa, the phase of suppressed convection is thus of greater importance for the region than the phase of enhanced convection. Rain gauge records fully confirm these results. The MJO appears to be significantly involved in the occurrences of dry spells during the monsoon over the Sahel, whereas large-scale convective clusters are only restricted to the equatorial latitudes and thus affect the Guinean belt, which experiences its short dry season at this time of the year.

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Clémence Macron
,
Benjamin Pohl
,
Yves Richard
, and
Miloud Bessafi
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Clémence Macron
,
Benjamin Pohl
,
Yves Richard
, and
Miloud Bessafi

Abstract

This paper aims at separating the respective influences of tropical and midlatitude variability on the development and life cycle of tropical temperate troughs (TTTs) over southern Africa in austral summer (November–February). Cluster analysis is applied to 1971–2000 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40) daily outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) anomalies to identify TTTs and monitor tropical convection. The same analysis applied to the zonal wind stretching deformation at 200 hPa (ZDEF) characterizes midlatitude transient perturbations. Results based on the comparison between these two classifications first confirm that midlatitude baroclinic waves are a necessary condition for TTT development, but they are not sufficient. Roughly 40% of those occurring in austral summer are associated with a TTT. They tend to be stronger than the baroclinic waves not associated with TTT development. In the tropics, additional conditions needed to form a TTT consist of an excess of latent energy over the Mozambique Channel, mostly because of moisture advections and convergence from the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Taken together, these conditions are highly favorable for deep atmospheric convection over and near southern Africa and seem to explain a large fraction of TTT variability.

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Benjamin Pohl
,
Bastien Dieppois
,
Julien Crétat
,
Damian Lawler
, and
Mathieu Rouault

Abstract

During the austral summer season (November–February), southern African rainfall, south of 20°S, has been shown to vary over a range of time scales, from synoptic variability (3–7 days, mostly tropical temperate troughs) to interannual variability (2–8 years, reflecting the regional effects of El Niño–Southern Oscillation). There is also evidence for variability at quasi-decadal (8–13 years) and interdecadal (15–28 years) time scales, linked to the interdecadal Pacific oscillation and the Pacific decadal oscillation, respectively. This study aims to provide an overview of these ranges of variability and their influence on regional climate and large-scale atmospheric convection and quantify uncertainties associated with each time scale. We do this by applying k-means clustering onto long-term (1901–2011) daily outgoing longwave radiation anomalies derived from the 56 individual members of the Twentieth Century Reanalysis. Eight large-scale convective regimes are identified. Results show that 1) the seasonal occurrence of the regimes significantly varies at the low-frequency time scales mentioned above; 2) these modulations account for a significant fraction of seasonal rainfall variability over the region; 3) significant associations are found between some of the regimes and the aforementioned modes of climate variability; and 4) associated uncertainties in the regime occurrence and convection anomalies strongly decrease with time, especially the phasing of transient variability. The short-lived synoptic anomalies and the low-frequency anomalies are shown to be approximately additive, but even if they combine their respective influence at both scales, the magnitude of short-lived perturbations remains much larger.

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Salvatore Pascale
,
Benjamin Pohl
,
Sarah B. Kapnick
, and
Honghai Zhang

Abstract

The Angola low is a summertime low pressure system that affects the convergence of low-level moisture fluxes into southern Africa. Interannual variations of the Angola low reduce the seasonal prediction skills for this region that arise from coupled atmosphere–ocean variability. Despite its importance, the interannual dynamics of the Angola low, and its relationship with El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and other coupled modes of variability, are still poorly understood, mostly because of the scarcity of atmospheric data and short-term duration of atmospheric reanalyses in the region. To bypass this issue, we use a long-term (3500 year) run from a 50-km-resolution global coupled model capable of simulating the summertime southern African large-scale circulation and teleconnections. We find that the meridional displacement and strength of the Angola low are moderately modulated by local sea surface temperature anomalies, especially those in proximity of the southeastern African coast, and to a lesser extent by ENSO and the subtropical Indian Ocean dipole. Comparison of the coupled run with a 1000-yr run driven by climatological sea surface temperatures reveals that the interannual excursions of the Angola low are in both cases associated with geopotential height anomalies over the southern Atlantic and Indian Ocean related to extratropical atmospheric variability. Midlatitude atmospheric variability explains almost 60% of the variance of the Angola low variability in the uncoupled run, but only 20% in the coupled run. Therefore, while the Angola low appears to be intrinsically controlled by atmospheric extratropical variability, the interference of the atmospheric response forced by sea surface temperature anomalies weakens this influence.

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Boutheina Oueslati
,
Benjamin Pohl
,
Vincent Moron
,
Sandra Rome
, and
Serge Janicot

Abstract

Great effort is made to address heat waves (HWs) in developed countries because of their devastating impacts on society, economy, and environment. However, HWs are still understudied over developing countries. This is particularly true in West Africa, and especially in the Sahel, where temperatures recurrently reach critical values, such as during the 2010 HW event in the western Sahel. This work aims at characterizing the Sahelian HWs during boreal spring seasons (April–May–June) and understanding the mechanisms associated with such extreme events. Over the last three decades, Sahelian HWs have been becoming more frequent, lasting longer, covering larger areas, and reaching higher intensities. The physical mechanisms associated with HWs are examined to assess the respective roles of atmospheric dynamics and radiative and turbulent fluxes by analyzing the surface energy budget. Results suggest that the greenhouse effect of water vapor is the main driver of HWs in the western Sahel, increasing minimum temperatures by enhanced downward longwave radiation. Atmospheric circulation plays an important role in sustaining these warm anomalies by advecting moisture from the Atlantic Ocean and the Guinean coasts into the Sahel. Maximum temperature anomalies are mostly explained by increased downward shortwave radiation due to a reduction in cloud cover. Interannual variability of HWs is affected by the delayed impact of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), with anomalous temperature warming following warm ENSO events, resulting from an amplified water vapor feedback.

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Benjamin Pohl
,
Andrew Lorrey
,
Andrew Sturman
,
Hervé Quénol
,
James Renwick
,
Nicolas Fauchereau
, and
Julien Pergaud

Abstract

This paper introduces a set of descriptors applied to weather regimes that allow for a detailed monitoring of the location and intensity of their atmospheric centers of action (e.g., troughs and ridges) and the gradients between them, when applicable. Descriptors are designed to document the effect of climate variability and change in modulating the character of daily weather regimes, rather than merely their occurrence statistics. As a case study, the methodology is applied to Aotearoa New Zealand (ANZ), using ERA5 ensemble reanalysis data for the period 1979–2019. Here, we analyze teleconnections between the regimes and their descriptors and large-scale climate variability. Results show a significant modulation of centers of action by the phase of the southern annular mode, with a strong relationship identified with the latitude of atmospheric ridges. Significant associations with El Niño–Southern Oscillation are also identified. Modes of large-scale variability have a stronger influence on the regimes’ intrinsic features than their occurrence. This demonstrates the usefulness of such descriptors, which help explain the relationship between midlatitude transient perturbations and large-scale modes of climate variability. In future research, this methodological framework will be applied to analyze (i) low-frequency changes in weather regimes under climate change, in line with the southward shift of storm tracks, and (ii) regional-scale effects on the climate of ANZ, resulting from interaction with its topography.

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Jonathan D. Wille
,
Simon P. Alexander
,
Charles Amory
,
Rebecca Baiman
,
Léonard Barthélemy
,
Dana M. Bergstrom
,
Alexis Berne
,
Hanin Binder
,
Juliette Blanchet
,
Deniz Bozkurt
,
Thomas J. Bracegirdle
,
Mathieu Casado
,
Taejin Choi
,
Kyle R. Clem
,
Francis Codron
,
Rajashree Datta
,
Stefano Di Battista
,
Vincent Favier
,
Diana Francis
,
Alexander D. Fraser
,
Elise Fourré
,
René D. Garreaud
,
Christophe Genthon
,
Irina V. Gorodetskaya
,
Sergi González-Herrero
,
Victoria J. Heinrich
,
Guillaume Hubert
,
Hanna Joos
,
Seong-Joong Kim
,
John C. King
,
Christoph Kittel
,
Amaelle Landais
,
Matthew Lazzara
,
Gregory H. Leonard
,
Jan L. Lieser
,
Michelle Maclennan
,
David Mikolajczyk
,
Peter Neff
,
Inès Ollivier
,
Ghislain Picard
,
Benjamin Pohl
,
F. Martin Ralph
,
Penny Rowe
,
Elisabeth Schlosser
,
Christine A. Shields
,
Inga J. Smith
,
Michael Sprenger
,
Luke Trusel
,
Danielle Udy
,
Tessa Vance
,
Étienne Vignon
,
Catherine Walker
,
Nander Wever
, and
Xun Zou

Abstract

Between 15 and 19 March 2022, East Antarctica experienced an exceptional heat wave with widespread 30°–40°C temperature anomalies across the ice sheet. In Part I, we assessed the meteorological drivers that generated an intense atmospheric river (AR) that caused these record-shattering temperature anomalies. Here, we continue our large collaborative study by analyzing the widespread and diverse impacts driven by the AR landfall. These impacts included widespread rain and surface melt that was recorded along coastal areas, but this was outweighed by widespread high snowfall accumulations resulting in a largely positive surface mass balance contribution to the East Antarctic region. An analysis of the surface energy budget indicated that widespread downward longwave radiation anomalies caused by large cloud-liquid water contents along with some scattered solar radiation produced intense surface warming. Isotope measurements of the moisture were highly elevated, likely imprinting a strong signal for past climate reconstructions. The AR event attenuated cosmic ray measurements at Concordia, something previously never observed. Last, an extratropical cyclone west of the AR landfall likely triggered the final collapse of the critically unstable Conger Ice Shelf while further reducing an already record low sea ice extent.

Significance Statement

Using our diverse collective expertise, we explored the impacts from the March 2022 heat wave and atmospheric river across East Antarctica. One key takeaway is that the Antarctic cryosphere is highly sensitive to meteorological extremes originating from the midlatitudes and subtropics. Despite the large positive temperature anomalies driven from strong downward longwave radiation, this event led to huge amounts of snowfall across the Antarctic interior desert. The isotopes in this snow of warm airmass origin will likely be detectable in future ice cores and potentially distort past climate reconstructions. Even measurements of space activity were affected. Also, the swells generated from this storm helped to trigger the final collapse of an already critically unstable Conger Ice Shelf while further degrading sea ice coverage.

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