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Judah Cohen and Justin Jones
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Judah Cohen and Justin Jones

Abstract

Many tropospheric Arctic Oscillation (AO) events are preceded by stratospheric AO events and even earlier in time by anomalous upward energy flux associated with Rossby waves in the troposphere. This study identifies lower-tropospheric circulation anomalies that precede large AO events in both the troposphere and stratosphere and the anomalous upward energy flux. Compositing analysis of stratospheric warming events identifies regional tropospheric precursors, which precede stratospheric warmings. The tropospheric precursor is found to vary when compositing over polar vortex displacements and splits separately. Prior to vortex displacements the main anomaly sea level pressure center of the tropospheric precursor is located across northwest Eurasia and is associated with the Siberian high. Prior to vortex splits a similar anomaly center is identified in the tropospheric precursor but is weaker and appears to be more strongly related to a shift in the storm tracks. Differences in the sea level pressure anomalies in the North Atlantic and the North Pacific are also observed when comparing the precursors prior to vortex displacements and splits. Identification of a unique tropospheric precursor to stratospheric warming and subsequent tropospheric AO events can help to improve understanding troposphere–stratosphere coupling. Furthermore, the observational evidence presented here can be compared with model simulations of winter climate variability and lead to potential model improvements.

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Justin E. Jones and Judah Cohen

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Strong anticyclones have a significant impact on the cool season climate over mid- and high-latitude landmasses as they are typically accompanied by arctic air masses that can eventually move into populated midlatitude regions. Composite analyses of Alaskan and Siberian strong anticyclones based on sea level pressure (SLP) thresholds of 1050 and 1060 hPa, respectively, were performed to diagnose large-scale dynamical and thermodynamical parameters associated with the formation of strong anticyclones over these two climatologically favorable regions. The anticyclone composite analyses indicate the presence of moderate-to-high-amplitude ridge–trough patterns associated with anticyclogenesis. These ridge–trough patterns are critical as they lead to dynamically favorable circumstances for rapid anticyclogenesis.

The strong Alaskan anticyclone develops downstream of a highly amplified upper-tropospheric ridge and is associated with a region of strong tropospheric subsidence due to differential anticyclonic vorticity advection and cold-air advection over the anticyclone center. The strong Siberian anticyclone is associated with an upper-tropospheric pattern of lesser amplitude, suggesting that these dynamical factors, while still important, are less critical to its development. The relative location of elevated terrain features also appears to contribute greatly to the overall evolution of each of these anticyclones.

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Judah Cohen, Jason C. Furtado, Justin Jones, Mathew Barlow, David Whittleston, and Dara Entekhabi

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Previous research has linked wintertime Arctic Oscillation (AO) variability to indices of Siberian snow cover and upward wave activity flux in the preceding fall season. Here, daily data are used to examine the surface and tropospheric processes that occur as the link between snow cover and upward forcing into the stratosphere develops. October Eurasian mean snow cover is found to be significantly related to sea level pressure (SLP) and to lower-stratosphere (100 hPa) meridional heat flux. Analysis of daily SLP and 100-hPa heat flux shows that in years with high October snow, the SLP is significantly higher from approximately 1 November to 15 December, and the 100-hPa heat flux is significantly increased with a two-week lag, from approximately 15 November to 31 December. During November–December, there are periods with upward wave activity flux extending coherently from the surface to the stratosphere, and these events occur nearly twice as often in high snow years compared to low snow years. The vertical structure of these events is a westward-tilting pattern of high eddy heights, with the largest normalized anomalies near the surface in the same region as the snow and SLP changes. These results suggest that high SLP develops in response to the snow cover and this higher pressure, in turn, provides part of the structure of a surface-to-stratosphere wave activity flux event, thus making full events more likely. Implications for improved winter forecasts exist through recognition of these precursor signals.

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