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Kevin A. Bowley, Eyad H. Atallah, and John R. Gyakum

Abstract

Available potential energy (APE), a measure of the energy available for conversion to kinetic energy, has been previously applied to examine changes in baroclinic instability and seasonal changes in the general circulation. Here, pathways in which the troposphere can build the reservoir of zonal available potential energy A Z on synoptic (3–10 day) time scales are explored. A climatology of A Z and its generation G Z and conversion terms are calculated from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction–Department of Energy Reanalysis 2 dataset from 1979 to 2011 for 20°–85°N. A standardized anomaly-based identification technique identifies 183 A Z buildup events, which are grouped into two event types based upon their final A Z standardized anomaly (σ) value: 1) buildup anomalous (BA) events, which exceed 1.5σ, and 2) buildup neutral (BN) events, which do not exceed 1.5σ. Increases in G Z and reductions in baroclinic conversion C A, source and sink terms for A Z, are shown to equally contribute toward increasing A Z in most seasons. A synoptic analysis of composited mass fields for winter BA events (n = 18 events) and winter BN events (n = 28 events) is performed to identify contributions to anomalously low C A and high G Z. A process of high-latitude cooling near 160°E–120°W is found for both composite event types. The cooling processes are characterized by a period of poleward moisture flux and ascent followed by an isolation of the Arctic from the midlatitude flow, resulting in enhanced G Z. Negative anomalies in C A are also diagnosed, which generally occur in regions with northerly dynamic tropopause wind anomalies and neutral to positive thickness anomalies.

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