skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Friday, April 12 until 2:00 AM ET on Saturday, April 13 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Title: Diverse Surface Signatures of Stratospheric Polar Vortex Anomalies
Abstract

The Arctic stratospheric polar vortex is an important driver of winter weather and climate variability and predictability in North America and Eurasia, with a downward influence that on average projects onto the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). While tropospheric circulation anomalies accompanying anomalous vortex states display substantial case‐by‐case variability, understanding the full diversity of the surface signatures requires larger sample sizes than those available from reanalyses. Here, we first show that a large ensemble of seasonal hindcasts realistically reproduces the observed average surface signatures for weak and strong vortex winters and produces sufficient spread for single ensemble members to be considered as alternative realizations. We then use the ensemble to analyze the diversity of surface signatures during weak and strong vortex winters. Over Eurasia, relatively few weak vortex winters are associated with large‐scale cold conditions, suggesting that the strength of the observed cold signature could be inflated due to insufficient sampling. For both weak and strong vortex winters, the canonical temperature pattern in Eurasia only clearly arises when North Atlantic sea surface temperatures are in phase with the NAO. Over North America, while the main driver of interannual winter temperature variability is the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the stratosphere can modulate ENSO teleconnections, affecting temperature and circulation anomalies over North America and downstream. These findings confirm that anomalous vortex states are associated with a broad spectrum of surface climate anomalies on the seasonal scale, which may not be fully captured by the small observational sample size.

 
more » « less
NSF-PAR ID:
10378169
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Volume:
127
Issue:
20
ISSN:
2169-897X
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    The Northern Hemisphere wintertime circulation response to volcanic eruptions has been explored extensively using general circulation models. In observations and some models, the response is characterized by an enhanced stratospheric polar vortex (SPV), a positive mode of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), and warm surface temperatures during the winter over North America and Eurasia. A weak surface air temperature signal in previous studies has led to conflicting conclusions on the robustness of the response. Here, we use simulations with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM) of six nuclear war scenarios to present a new perspective on the connection between stratospheric aerosol heating, the SPV, and the surface temperature response. We show that stratospheric aerosol heating by soot is the primary contributor to the SPV response in nuclear war simulations, which is coupled to the troposphere and projects as a positive mode of the NAO at the surface. Winter warming is observed across northern Eurasia, albeit poleward of the response after volcanic eruptions. We compare the results to simulations of volcanic eruptions and find that observed Eurasian warming in the first winter after the 1963 Agung, 1982 El Chichón, and 1991 Pinatubo volcanic eruptions is simulated with the NCAR CAM5 climate model only when tropical sea surface temperatures, including the observed El Niño, are specified along with the volcanic aerosols. This suggests an undiagnosed tropospheric mechanism connecting the tropics and high latitudes, as without specifying sea surface temperatures, internal variability dominates the simulated winter warming response after historical volcanic eruptions.

     
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Compound drought and heatwave (CDHW) events have garnered much attention in recent studies. However, thus far, the identification of such events is oversimplified, and their association with natural climate variability is not fully explored. Here, we derive anomalies in the weekly self‐calibrated Palmer Drought Severity Index (sc_PDSI) and daily maximum temperatures to identify CDHW events from 1982 to 2016 over 26 climate regions across the globe. Using a Poisson Generalized Linear Model (GLM), we analyze yearly occurrences of seasonal CDHW events and their association with the warm and cold phases of El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). ENSO exhibits robust association with CDHW events over the Southern Hemisphere during the austral summer and fall, while PDO influences their occurrences over the Western North America in the Northern Hemisphere during the boreal summer, which is supported by the composites of anomalies in the atmospheric circulations and surface energy budget. However, NAO association with CDHW events is relatively weak. The CDHW occurrence over other regions is driven by a combination of these large‐scale natural forcing. Our analyses also highlight that the cooccurrence of weekly to submonthly scale anomalies in the observed temperature and precipitation may not be always aligned between the observations and the reanalysis. Therefore, caution must be exercised while explaining such observed anomalies on the basis of reanalysis‐based circulations and surface energy budget. Overall, our analyses provide a new insight towards concurrent extremes and should help foster research efforts in this area.

     
    more » « less
  3. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Winter surface air temperature (SAT) over North America exhibits pronounced variability on subseasonal, interannual, decadal, and interdecadal time scales. Here, reanalysis data from 1950–2017 are analyzed to investigate the atmospheric and surface ocean conditions associated with its subseasonal to interannual variability. Detrended daily SAT data reveal a known warm west/cold east (WWCE) dipole over midlatitude North America and a cold north/warm south (CNWS) dipole over eastern North America. It is found that while the North Pacific blocking (PB) is important for the WWCE and CNWS dipoles, they also depend on the phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). When a negative-phase NAO (NAO − ) coincides with PB, the WWCE dipole is enhanced (compared with the PB alone case) and it also leads to a warm north/cold south dipole anomaly in eastern North America; but when PB occurs with a positive-phase NAO (NAO + ), the WWCE dipole weakens and the CNWS dipole is enhanced. The PB events concurrent with the NAO − (NAO + ) and SAT WWCE (CNWS) dipole are favored by the Pacific El Niño–like (La Niña–like) sea surface temperature mode and the positive (negative) North Pacific mode. The PB-NAO + has a larger component projecting onto the SAT WWCE dipole during the La Niña winter than during the El Niño winter because a more zonal wave train is formed. Strong North American SAT WWCE dipoles and enhanced projections of PB-NAO + events onto the SAT WWCE dipole component are also readily seen for the positive North Pacific mode. The North Pacific mode seems to play a bigger role in the North American SAT variability than ENSO. 
    more » « less
  4. The direct response of the cold-season atmospheric circulation to the Arctic sea ice loss is estimated from observed sea ice concentration (SIC) and an atmospheric reanalysis, assuming that the atmospheric response to the long-term sea ice loss is the same as that to interannual pan-Arctic SIC fluctuations with identical spatial patterns. No large-scale relationship with previous interannual SIC fluctuations is found in October and November, but a negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)/Arctic Oscillation follows the pan-Arctic SIC fluctuations from December to March. The signal is field significant in the stratosphere in December, and in the troposphere and tropopause thereafter. However, multiple regressions indicate that the stratospheric December signal is largely due to concomitant Siberian snow-cover anomalies. On the other hand, the tropospheric January–March NAO signals can be unambiguously attributed to SIC variability, with an Iceland high approaching 45 m at 500 hPa, a 2°C surface air warming in northeastern Canada, and a modulation of blocking activity in the North Atlantic sector. In March, a 1°C northern Europe cooling is also attributed to SIC. An SIC impact on the warm Arctic–cold Eurasia pattern is only found in February in relation to January SIC. Extrapolating the most robust results suggests that, in the absence of other forcings, the SIC loss between 1979 and 2016 would have induced a 2°–3°C decade−1winter warming in northeastern North America and a 40–60 m decade−1increase in the height of the Iceland high, if linearity and perpetual winter conditions could be assumed.

     
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Substantial marine, terrestrial, and atmospheric changes have occurred over the Greenland region during the last century. Several studies have documented record‐levels of Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) summer melt extent during the 2000s and 2010s, but relatively little work has been carried out to assess regional climatic changes in other seasons. Here, we focus on the less studied cold‐season (i.e., autumn and winter) climate, tracing the long‐term (1873–2013) variability of Greenland's air temperatures through analyses of coastal observations and model‐derived outlet glacier series and their linkages with North Atlantic sea ice, sea surface temperature (SST), and atmospheric circulation indices. Through a statistical framework, large amounts of west and south Greenland temperature variance (up tor2 ~ 50%) can be explained by the seasonally‐contemporaneous combination of the Greenland Blocking Index (GBI) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO; hereafter the combination of GBI and NAO is termed GBI). Lagged and concomitant regional sea‐ice concentration (SIC) and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) seasonal indices account for small amounts of residual air temperature variance (r2 < ~10%) relative to the GBI. The correlations between GBI and cold‐season temperatures are predominantly positive and statistically‐significant through time, while regional SIC conditions emerge as a significant covariate from the mid‐20th century through the conclusion of the study period. The inclusion of the cold‐season Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) in multivariate analyses bolsters the air temperature variance explained by the North Atlantic regional predictors, suggesting the remote, background climate state is important to long‐term Greenland temperature variability. These findings imply that large‐scale tropospheric circulation has a strong control on surface temperature over Greenland through dynamic and thermodynamic impacts and stress the importance of understanding the evolving two‐way linkages between the North Atlantic marine and atmospheric environment in order to more accurately predict Greenland seasonal climate variability and change through the 21st century.

     
    more » « less