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Michael Goss, Sukyoung Lee, Steven B. Feldstein, and Noah S. Diffenbaugh

Abstract

A daily El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) index is developed based on precipitation rate and is used to investigate subseasonal time-scale extratropical circulation anomalies associated with ENSO-like convective heating. The index, referred to as the El Niño precipitation index (ENPI), is anomalously positive when there is El Niño–like convection. Conversely, the ENPI is anomalously negative when there is La Niña–like convection. It is found that when precipitation becomes El Niño–like (La Niña–like) on subseasonal time scales, the 300-hPa geopotential height field over the North Pacific and western North America becomes El Niño–like (La Niña–like) within 5–10 days. The composites show a small association with the MJO. These results are supported by previous modeling studies, which show that the response over the North Pacific and western North America to an equatorial Pacific heating anomaly occurs within about one week. This suggests that the mean seasonal extratropical response to El Niño (La Niña) may in effect simply be the average of the subseasonal response to subseasonally varying El Niño–like (La Niña–like) convective heating. Implications for subseasonal to seasonal forecasting are discussed.

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James J. Benedict, Sukyoung Lee, and Steven B. Feldstein

Abstract

This article investigates the synoptic characteristics of individual North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) events by examining the daily evolution of the potential temperature field on the nominal tropopause (the 2-PVU surface). This quantity is obtained from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction–National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP–NCAR) reanalysis dataset for the winter season.

For both phases, the NAO is found to originate from synoptic-scale waves. As these waves evolve into the low-frequency NAO pattern, they break anticyclonically for the positive phase and cyclonically for the negative phase. The results of this analysis suggest that it is the remnants of these breaking waves that form the physical entity of the NAO. Throughout the NAO events, for both phases, the NAO is maintained by the successive breaking of upstream synoptic-scale waves. When synoptic-scale disturbances are no longer present, mixing processes play an important role in the NAO decay. As in other recent studies of the NAO, it is found that these individual NAO events complete their life cycle in a time period of about two weeks.

Additional differences between the wave breaking characteristics of the two NAO phases are found. For the positive NAO phase, anticyclonic wave breaking takes place in two regions: one over the North Atlantic and the other near the North American west coast. For the negative NAO phase, on the other hand, there is a single breaking wave confined to the North Atlantic. An explanation based on kinematics is given to account for this difference.

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Sergey Kravtsov, John E. Ten Hoeve, Steven B. Feldstein, Sukyoung Lee, and Seok-Woo Son

Abstract

Simulations using an idealized, atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) subjected to various thermal forcings are analyzed via a combination of probability density function (PDF) estimation and spectral analysis techniques. Seven different GCM runs are examined, each model run being characterized by different values in the strength of the tropical heating and high-latitude cooling. For each model run, it is shown that a linear stochastic model constructed in the phase space of the ten leading empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs) of the zonal-mean zonal flow provides an excellent statistical approximation to the simulated zonal flow variability, which includes zonal index fluctuations, and quasi-oscillatory, poleward, zonal-mean flow anomaly propagation. Statistically significant deviations from the above linear stochastic null hypothesis arise in the form of a few anomalously persistent, or statistically nonlinear, flow patterns, which occupy particular regions of the model’s phase space. Some of these nonlinear regimes occur during certain phases of the poleward propagation; however, such an association is, in general, weak. This indicates that the regimes and oscillations in the model may be governed by distinct dynamical mechanisms.

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Hyo-Seok Park, Sukyoung Lee, Seok-Woo Son, Steven B. Feldstein, and Yu Kosaka

Abstract

The surface warming in recent decades has been most rapid in the Arctic, especially during the winter. Here, by utilizing global reanalysis and satellite datasets, it is shown that the northward flux of moisture into the Arctic during the winter strengthens the downward infrared radiation (IR) by 30–40 W m−2 over 1–2 weeks. This is followed by a decline of up to 10% in sea ice concentration over the Greenland, Barents, and Kara Seas. A climate model simulation indicates that the wind-induced sea ice drift leads the decline of sea ice thickness during the early stage of the strong downward IR events, but that within one week the cumulative downward IR effect appears to be dominant. Further analysis indicates that strong downward IR events are preceded several days earlier by enhanced convection over the tropical Indian and western Pacific Oceans. This finding suggests that sea ice predictions can benefit from an improved understanding of tropical convection and ensuing planetary wave dynamics.

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Matthew D. Flournoy, Steven B. Feldstein, Sukyoung Lee, and Eugene E. Clothiaux

Abstract

The Tropically Excited Arctic Warming (TEAM) mechanism ascribes warming of the Arctic surface to tropical convection, which excites poleward-propagating Rossby wave trains that transport water vapor and heat into the Arctic. A crucial component of the TEAM mechanism is the increase in downward infrared radiation (IR) that precedes the Arctic warming. Previous studies have examined the downward IR associated with the TEAM mechanism using reanalysis data. To corroborate previous findings, this study examines the linkage between tropical convection, Rossby wave trains, and downward IR with Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN) downward IR station data. The physical processes that drive changes in the downward IR are also investigated by regressing 300-hPa geopotential height, outgoing longwave radiation, water vapor flux, ERA-Interim downward IR, and other key variables against the BSRN downward IR at Barrow, Alaska, and Ny-Ålesund, Spitsbergen.

Both the Barrow and the Ny-Ålesund station downward IR anomalies are preceded by anomalous tropical convection and poleward-propagating Rossby wave trains. The wave train associated with Barrow resembles the Pacific–North America teleconnection pattern, and that for Ny-Ålesund corresponds to a northwestern Atlantic wave train. It is found that both wave trains promote warm and moist advection from the midlatitudes into the Arctic. The resulting water vapor flux convergence, multiplied by the latent heat of vaporization, closely resembles the regressed ERA-Interim downward IR. These results suggest that the combination of warm advection, latent heat release, and increased cloudiness all contribute toward an increase in downward IR.

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Changhyun Yoo, Nathaniel C. Johnson, Chueh-Hsin Chang, Steven B. Feldstein, and Young-Ha Kim

Abstract

A composite-based statistical model utilizing Northern Hemisphere teleconnection patterns is developed to predict East Asian wintertime surface air temperature for lead times out to 6 weeks. The level of prediction is determined by using the Heidke skill score. The prediction skill of the statistical model is compared with that of hindcast simulations by a climate model, Global Seasonal Forecast System, version 5. When employed individually, three teleconnections (i.e., the east Atlantic/western Russian, Scandinavian, and polar/Eurasian teleconnection patterns) are found to provide skillful predictions for lead times beyond 4–5 weeks. When information from the teleconnections and the long-term linear trend are combined, the statistical model outperforms the climate model for lead times beyond 3 weeks, especially during those times when the teleconnections are in their active phases.

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Sukyoung Lee, Tingting Gong, Nathaniel Johnson, Steven B. Feldstein, and David Pollard

Abstract

This study presents mechanisms for the polar amplification of surface air temperature that occurred in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) between the periods of 1958–77 (P1) and 1982–2001 (P2). Using European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Re-Analysis (ERA-40) reanalysis data, it is found that over the ice-covered Arctic Ocean, the winter surface warming arises from dynamic warming (stationary eddy heat flux and adiabatic warming). Over the ice-free Arctic Ocean between the Greenland and the Barents Seas, downward infrared radiative (IR) flux is found to dominate the warming.

To investigate whether the difference in the flow between P1 and P2 is due to changes in the frequency of occurrence of a small number of teleconnection patterns, a coupled self-organizing map (SOM) analysis of the 250-hPa streamfunction and tropical convective precipitation is performed. The latter field was specified to lead the former by 5 days. The results of the analysis showed that the P2 − P1 trend arises from a decrease in the frequency of negative phase PNA-like and circumglobal streamfunction patterns and a corresponding increase in the frequency of positive PNA-like and circumglobal streamfunction patterns. The occurrence of the two strong 1982–83 and 1997–98 El Niño events also contributes toward this trend. The corresponding trend in the convective precipitation is from below average to above average values in the tropical Indo-western Pacific region. Each of the above patterns was found to have an e-folding time scale from 6 to 8 days, which implies that the P2 − P1 trend can be understood as arising from the change in the frequency of occurrence of teleconnection patterns that fluctuate on intraseasonal time scales.

The link between intraseasonal and interannual variability was further examined by linearly regressing various quantities against trend patterns with interannual variability subtracted. It was found that enhanced convective precipitation is followed 3–6 days later by the occurrence of the P2 − P1 circulation trend pattern, and then 1–2 days later by the corresponding trend pattern in the downward IR flux. This finding suggests that an increased frequency of the above sequence of events, which occurs on intraseasonal time scales, can account for the NH winter polar amplification of the surface air temperature via increased dynamic warming and downward IR flux.

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Joseph P. Clark, Vivek Shenoy, Steven B. Feldstein, Sukyoung Lee, and Michael Goss

Abstract

The wintertime (December–February) 1990–2016 Arctic surface air temperature (SAT) trend is examined using self-organizing maps (SOMs). The high-dimensional SAT dataset is reduced into nine representative SOM patterns, with each pattern exhibiting a decorrelation time scale of about 10 days and having about 85% of its variance coming from intraseasonal time scales. The trend in the frequency of occurrence of each SOM pattern is used to estimate the interdecadal Arctic winter warming trend associated with the SOM patterns. It is found that trends in the SOM patterns explain about one-half of the SAT trend in the Barents and Kara Seas, one-third of the SAT trend around Baffin Bay, and two-thirds of the SAT trend in the Chukchi Sea. A composite calculation of each term in the thermodynamic energy equation for each SOM pattern shows that the SAT anomalies grow primarily through the advection of the climatological temperature by the anomalous wind. This implies that a substantial fraction of Arctic amplification is due to horizontal temperature advection that is driven by changes in the atmospheric circulation. An analysis of the surface energy budget indicates that the skin temperature anomalies as well as the trend, although very similar to that of the SAT, are produced primarily by downward longwave radiation.

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Seok-Woo Son, Sukyoung Lee, Steven B. Feldstein, and John E. Ten Hoeve

Abstract

The physical processes that determine the time scale of zonal-mean-flow variability are examined with an idealized numerical model that has a zonally symmetric lower boundary. In the part of the parameter space where the time-mean zonal flow is characterized by a single (double) jet, the dominant form of zonal-mean-flow variability is the zonal index (poleward propagation), and the time-mean potential vorticity gradient is found to be strong and sharp (weak and broad). The e-folding time scale of the zonal index is found to be close to 55 days, much longer than the observed 10-day time scale. The e-folding time scale of the poleward propagation is about 40 days. The long e-folding time scales for the zonal index are found to be consistent with an unrealistically strong and persistent eddy–zonal-mean-flow feedback. A calculation of the refractive index indicates that the background flow supports eddies that are trapped within midlatitudes, undergoing relatively little meridional propagation.

Additional model runs are performed with an idealized mountain to investigate whether zonal asymmetry can disrupt the eddy feedback. For single-jet states, the time scale is reduced to about 30 days if the mountain height is 4 km or less. The reduction in the time scale occurs because the stationary eddies excited by the mountain alter the background flow in a manner that leads to the replacement of zonal-index events by shorter-time-scale poleward propagation. With a 5-km mountain, the time scale reverts and increases to 105 days. This threshold behavior is again attributed to a sharpening of the background zonal jet, which arises from an extremely strong stationary wave momentum flux convergence. In contrast, for double-jet states, the time scale changes only slightly and the poleward propagation is maintained in all mountain runs.

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Benkui Tan, Jiacan Yuan, Ying Dai, Steven B. Feldstein, and Sukyoung Lee

Abstract

The eastern Pacific (EP) pattern is a recently detected atmospheric teleconnection pattern that frequently occurs during late winter. Through analysis of daily ERA-Interim data and outgoing longwave radiation data for the period of 1979–2011, it is shown here that the formation of the EP is preceded by an anomalous tropical convection dipole, with one extremum located over the eastern Indian Ocean–Maritime Continent and the other over the central Pacific. This is followed by the excitation of two quasi-stationary Rossby wave trains. Departing from the subtropics, north of the region of anomalous convection, one Rossby wave train propagates eastward along the East Asian jet from southern China toward the eastern Pacific. The second wave train propagates northward from east of Japan toward eastern Siberia and then turns southeastward to the Gulf of Alaska. Both wave trains are associated with wave activity flux convergence where the EP pattern develops. The results from an examination of the E vector suggest that the EP undergoes further growth with the aid of positive feedback from high-frequency transient eddies. The frequency of occurrence of the dipole convection anomaly increases significantly from early to late winter, a finding that suggests that it is the seasonal change in the convection anomaly that accounts for the EP being more dominant in late winter.

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