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  1. Abstract

    The term “weather whiplash” was recently coined to describe abrupt swings in weather conditions from one extreme to another, such as from a prolonged, frigid cold spell to anomalous warmth or from drought to heavy precipitation. These events are often highly disruptive to agriculture, ecosystems, and daily activities. In this study, we propose and demonstrate a novel metric to identify weather whiplash events (WWEs) and track their frequency over time. We define a WWE as a transition from one persistent continental‐scale circulation regime to another distinctly different pattern, as determined using an objective pattern clustering analysis called self‐organizing maps. We focus on the domain spanning North America and the eastern N. Pacific Ocean. A matrix of representative atmospheric patterns in 500‐hPa geopotential height anomalies is created from 72 years of daily fields. We analyze the occurrence of WWEs originating with long‐duration events (LDEs) (defined as lasting four or more days) in each pattern, as well as the associated extremes in temperature and precipitation. A WWE is detected when the pattern 2 days following a LDE is substantially different, measured using internal matrix distances and thresholds. Changes in WWE frequency are assessed objectively based on reanalysis and historical climate model simulations, and for the future using climate model projections. Temporal changes in the future under representative concentration pathway 8.5 forcing are more robust than those in recent decades. We find consistent increases in WWEs originating in patterns with an anomalously warm Arctic and decreases in cold‐Arctic patterns.

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  2. Abstract

    We investigate factors influencing European winter (DJFM) air temperatures for the period 1979–2015 with the focus on changes during the recent period of rapid Arctic warming (1998–2015). We employ meteorological reanalyses analysed with a combination of correlation analysis, two pattern clustering techniques, and back‐trajectory airmass identification. In all five selected European regions, severe cold winter events lasting at least 4 days are significantly correlated with warm Arctic episodes. Relationships during opposite conditions of warm Europe/cold Arctic are also significant. Correlations have become consistently stronger since 1998. Large‐scale pattern analysis reveals that cold spells are associated with the negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO‐) and the positive phase of the Scandinavian (SCA+) pattern, which in turn are correlated with the divergence of dry‐static energy transport. Warm European extremes are associated with opposite phases of these patterns and the convergence of latent heat transport. Airmass trajectory analysis is consistent with these findings, as airmasses associated with extreme cold events typically originate over continents, while warm events tend to occur with prevailing maritime airmasses. Despite Arctic‐wide warming, significant cooling has occurred in northeastern Europe owing to a decrease in adiabatic subsidence heating in airmasses arriving from the southeast, along with increased occurrence of circulation patterns favouring low temperature advection. These dynamic effects dominated over the increased mean temperature of most circulation patterns. Lagged correlation analysis reveals that SCA‐ and NAO+ are typically preceded by cold Arctic anomalies during the previous 2–3 months, which may aid seasonal forecasting.

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