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How do stratospheric perturbations influence North American weather regime predictions?

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  • | 2 National Centre for Atmospheric Science, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  • | 3 School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, USA
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Abstract

Observational evidence shows changes to North American weather regime occurrence depending on the strength of the lower-stratospheric polar vortex. However, it is not yet clear how this occurs or to what extent an improved stratospheric forecast would change regime predictions. Here we analyze four North American regimes at 500 hPa, constructed in principal component (PC) space. We consider both the location of the regimes in PC space and the linear regression between each PC and the lower-stratospheric zonal-mean winds, yielding a theory of which regime transitions are likely to occur due to changes in the lower stratosphere. Using a set of OpenIFS simulations, we then test the effect of relaxing the polar stratosphere to ERA-Interim on subseasonal regime predictions. The model start dates are selected based on particularly poor subseasonal regime predictions in the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts CY43R3 hindcasts. While the results show only a modest improvement to the number of accurate regime predictions, there is a substantial reduction in Euclidean distance error in PC space. The average movement of the forecasts within PC space is found to be consistent with expectation for moderate-to-large lower-stratospheric zonal wind perturbations. Overall, our results provide a framework for interpreting the stratospheric influence on North American regime behavior. The results can be applied to subseasonal forecasts to understand how stratospheric uncertainty may affect regime predictions, and to diagnose which regime forecast errors are likely to be related to stratospheric errors.

Corresponding author: Simon H. Lee (now at Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University, New York, NY)simon.h.lee@columbia.edu

Abstract

Observational evidence shows changes to North American weather regime occurrence depending on the strength of the lower-stratospheric polar vortex. However, it is not yet clear how this occurs or to what extent an improved stratospheric forecast would change regime predictions. Here we analyze four North American regimes at 500 hPa, constructed in principal component (PC) space. We consider both the location of the regimes in PC space and the linear regression between each PC and the lower-stratospheric zonal-mean winds, yielding a theory of which regime transitions are likely to occur due to changes in the lower stratosphere. Using a set of OpenIFS simulations, we then test the effect of relaxing the polar stratosphere to ERA-Interim on subseasonal regime predictions. The model start dates are selected based on particularly poor subseasonal regime predictions in the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts CY43R3 hindcasts. While the results show only a modest improvement to the number of accurate regime predictions, there is a substantial reduction in Euclidean distance error in PC space. The average movement of the forecasts within PC space is found to be consistent with expectation for moderate-to-large lower-stratospheric zonal wind perturbations. Overall, our results provide a framework for interpreting the stratospheric influence on North American regime behavior. The results can be applied to subseasonal forecasts to understand how stratospheric uncertainty may affect regime predictions, and to diagnose which regime forecast errors are likely to be related to stratospheric errors.

Corresponding author: Simon H. Lee (now at Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University, New York, NY)simon.h.lee@columbia.edu
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