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Mischa Croci-Maspoli and Huw C. Davies

Abstract

A three-part study of the anomalously cold European winter of 2005/06 is undertaken. Climatological analysis indicates that the dominant pattern of climate variability in the Euro–Atlantic sector during this winter was not a negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), but a pattern with a “blocklike” center located immediately upstream of the continent. Synoptic-dynamical diagnosis of the winter indicates the frequent occurrence of long-lasting blocks in this region, and a Lagrangian trajectory analysis points to the significant role of cloud-diabatic effects in the dynamics of block inception. A series of heuristic numerical simulations lend credence to the hypothesis that the occurrence of the blocks was sensitive to, and significantly influenced by, the warm surface temperature anomalies upstream over the western Atlantic Ocean and North America. Brief comments are made on the significance of the foregoing results for seasonal numerical weather prediction and also their relevance to the consideration of interannual climate variability.

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Jana Sillmann, Mischa Croci-Maspoli, Malaak Kallache, and Richard W. Katz

Abstract

North Atlantic atmospheric blocking conditions explain part of the winter climate variability in Europe, being associated with anomalous cold winter temperatures. In this study, the generalized extreme value (GEV) distribution is fitted to monthly minima of European winter 6-hourly minimum temperatures from the ECHAM5/MPI-OM global climate model simulations and the ECMWF reanalysis product known as ERA-40, with an indicator for atmospheric blocking conditions being used as covariate. It is demonstrated that relating the location and scale parameter of the GEV distribution to atmospheric blocking improves the fit to extreme minimum temperatures in large areas of Europe. The climate model simulations agree reasonably with ERA-40 in the present climate (1961–2000). Under the influence of atmospheric blocking, a decrease in the 0.95th quantiles of extreme minimum temperatures can be distinguished. This cooling effect of atmospheric blocking is, however, diminished in future climate simulations because of a shift in blocking location, and thus reduces the chances of very cold winters in northeastern parts of Europe.

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Michael Sprenger, Georgios Fragkoulidis, Hanin Binder, Mischa Croci-Maspoli, Pascal Graf, Christian M. Grams, Peter Knippertz, Erica Madonna, Sebastian Schemm, Bojan Škerlak, and Heini Wernli

Abstract

This paper introduces a newly compiled set of feature-based climatologies identified from ERA-Interim (1979–2014). Two categories of flow features are considered: (i) Eulerian climatologies of jet streams, tropopause folds, surface fronts, cyclones and anticyclones, blocks, and potential vorticity streamers and cutoffs and (ii) Lagrangian climatologies, based on a large ensemble of air parcel trajectories, of stratosphere–troposphere exchange, warm conveyor belts, and tropical moisture exports. Monthly means of these feature climatologies are openly available at the ETH Zürich web page (http://eraiclim.ethz.ch) and are annually updated. Datasets at higher resolution can be obtained from the authors on request. These feature climatologies allow studying the frequency, variability, and trend of atmospheric phenomena and their interrelationships across temporal scales. To illustrate the potential of this dataset, boreal winter climatologies of selected features are presented and, as a first application, the very unusual Northern Hemispheric winter of 2009/10 is identified as the season when most of the considered features show maximum deviations from climatology. The second application considers dry winters in the western United States and reveals fairly localized anomalies in the eastern North Pacific of enhanced blocking and surface anticyclones and reduced cyclones.

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