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Thomas Jung
Peter B. Rhines


Some effects of Greenland on the Northern Hemisphere wintertime circulation are discussed. Inviscid pressure drag on Greenland’s slopes, calculated from reanalysis data, is related to circulation patterns. Greenland lies north of the core of the tropospheric westerly winds. Yet strong standing waves, which extend well into the stratosphere, produce a trough/ridge system with jet stream lying close to Greenland, mean Icelandic low in its wake, and storm track that interacts strongly with its topography. In the lower troposphere, dynamic height anomalies associated with strongly easterly pressure drag on the atmosphere are quite localized in space and relatively short-lived compared to upper levels, yet they involve a hemispheric-scale dislocation of the stratospheric polar vortex. It is a two-scale problem, however; the high-pass time-filtered part of the height field, responsible for 73% of the pressure drag, is quite different, and expresses propagating cyclonic development in the Atlantic storm track. Eliassen–Palm flux (EP flux) analysis shows that the atmospheric response is (counterintuitively) an acceleration of the westerly winds. The hemispheric influence is consistent with the model results of Junge et al. suggesting that Greenland affects the stationary waves in winter.

This discussion shows that Greenland is not a simple “stirring rod” in the westerly circulation, yet involvement of Greenland’s topography with the shape, form, and intensity of the storm track is strong. Interaction of traveling storms, the jet stream, and the orographic wake frequently leads to increase of the lateral scale such that cyclonic system expands to the size of Greenland itself (∼2500 km). Using the global ECMWF general circulation model, the authors explore the effect of model resolution on these circulations. Statistically, in two case studies, and in higher-resolution global models at TL255 to TL799 resolution, intense tip jet, hydraulic downslope jet, and gravity wave radiation appear in strong flow events, in accord with the work of Doyle and Shapiro. Three-dimensional particle trajectories and vorticity maps show the nature and intensity of the summit-gap flow. Cyclonic systems in the lee of Greenland are strongly affected by the downslope jet. Penetration of the Arctic Basin by cyclonic systems arises from this source region, and the amplitude of the pressure drag is enhanced at high resolution. At the higher resolutions, storm-track analysis verifies the splitting of the storm track by Greenland with a substantial minority of storms moving northward through Baffin Bay. Finally, analysis of 20 winters of 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40) reforecasts shows little evidence that negative pressure-drag events are followed by anomalously large forecast errors over Europe, throughout the forecast. Forecast skill for the pressure drag is surprisingly good, with a correlation of 0.65 at 144 h.

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