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  1. Abstract

    According to baroclinic adjustment theory, the isentropic slope maintains its marginal state for baroclinic instability. However, the recent trend of Arctic warming raises the possibility that there could have been a systematic change in the extratropical isentropic slope. In this study, global reanalysis data are used to investigate this possibility. The result shows that tropospheric isentropes north of 50°N have been flattening significantly during winter for the recent 25 years. This trend pattern fluctuates at intraseasonal time scales. An examination of the temporal evolution indicates that it is the planetary-scale (zonal wavenumbers-1–3) eddy heat fluxes, not the synoptic-scale eddy heat fluxes, that flatten the isentropes; synoptic-scale eddy heat fluxes instead respond to the subsequent changes in isentropic slope. This extratropical planetary-scale wave growth is preceded by an enhanced zonal asymmetry of tropical heating and poleward wave activity vectors. A numerical model is used to test if the observed latent heating can generate the observed isentropic slope anomalies. The result shows that the tropical heating indeed contributes to the isentropic slope trend. The agreement between the model solution and the observation improves substantially if extratropical latent heating is also included in the forcing. The model temperature response shows a pattern resembling the warm-Arctic–cold-continent pattern. From these results, it is concluded that the recent flattening trend of isentropic slope north of 50°N is mostly caused by planetary-scale eddy activities generated from latent heating, and that this change is accompanied by a warm-Arctic–cold-continent pattern that permeates the entire troposphere.

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  2. Abstract

    Atmospheric stationary waves play an important role in regional climate. In phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), a prior study found that there are systematic biases in Arctic moisture intrusions caused by stationary eddy meridional wind biases. In this study, using initial‐value model calculations, it is shown that CMIP5 latent heating biases in the tropics and midlatitudes play a substantial role in generating the systematic meridional wind bias poleward of 50°N. It is further shown that the midlatitude heating biases are in part driven by the circulation caused by the tropical and subtropical heating biases. These results indicate that the systematic stationary meridional wind biases poleward of 50°N can be traced to systematic model biases in tropical and extratropical latent heating. Therefore, reliable regional climate projections likely hinge on accurate representations of moist processes upstream of the region of interest and in the tropics.

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  3. Abstract

    The summer of 2010 was characterized by weather and climate extremes such as the western Russia heatwave and the Pakistan floods. A recent study found that summer was dominated by a particular 200 hPa geopotential height pattern featuring an anomalous Rossby wave train with ridges centred over Greenland, Europe and Russia. The daily frequency of this pattern has dramatically increased recently and closely resembles the mean‐state difference in 200 hPa geopotential height fields between 1998–2014 (P2) and 1979–1997 (P1). Because anomalous wave trains are often driven by localized diabatic heating, it is tested in this study whether the P2 minus P1 pattern is caused by diabatic heating anomalies near Greenland. While it is found that sea ice concentrations declined and sea‐surface temperatures rose over Baffin Bay to the west of Greenland during P2, surface latent heat fluxes actually increased downward, indicating that surface processes were likely not the source of diabatic heating. Rather, an increase in vertically integrated horizontal latent‐heat flux convergence over Baffin Bay was observed in P2, which led to the condensation of water vapour and latent heating. Thus, the mid‐tropospheric circulation established the diabatic heating. A set of initial‐value calculations with idealized heating over Baffin Bay show solutions that remarkably resemble the P2 minus P1 pattern and provide a plausible explanation as to why the pattern has been occurring more frequently. This study demonstrates that changes in the Arctic can arise from moisture transport from the midlatitudes, and, in turn, these changes can induce weather and climate extremes in distant midlatitude regions.

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    Abstract This study examines the role of the latent heating in exciting the upper-level circulation anomaly which destructively interferes with the climatological stationary wave in the Western Hemisphere during boreal summer. This destructive interference pattern closely resembles the circulation trend which is known to be responsible for surface heat extreme trends. To investigate the mechanism behind this circulation anomaly, daily stationary-transient wave interference and related meteorological variables are analyzed using reanalysis data for the period of 1979-2017. Numerical model simulations forced by reanalysis heating anomalies indicate that the destructive interference pattern is most effectively excited by latent heating anomalies over the North Pacific and eastern Canada. The North Pacific heating anomaly drives circulation anomalies that not only resemble the destructive interference pattern, but also transport moisture into eastern Canada. The resulting latent heating over eastern Canada drives circulation that further reinforces the destructive interference pattern which includes a prominent high pressure system over Greenland. Tropical heating also plays a role in driving the destructive interference pattern. On intraseasonal time scales, the destructive interference pattern is preceded by suppressed Indo-western Pacific heating and enhanced North American monsoon heating. On decadal time scales, both heating centers have strengthened, but the trend of the North American monsoon heating was greater than that of the Indo-Western Pacific heating. These uneven heating trends help explain the resemblance between the destructive interference pattern and the circulation trend over the Western Hemisphere. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
    Abstract The wintertime (December–February) 1990–2016 Arctic surface air temperature (SAT) trend is examined using self-organizing maps (SOMs). The high-dimensional SAT dataset is reduced into nine representative SOM patterns, with each pattern exhibiting a decorrelation time scale of about 10 days and having about 85% of its variance coming from intraseasonal time scales. The trend in the frequency of occurrence of each SOM pattern is used to estimate the interdecadal Arctic winter warming trend associated with the SOM patterns. It is found that trends in the SOM patterns explain about one-half of the SAT trend in the Barents and Kara Seas, one-third of the SAT trend around Baffin Bay, and two-thirds of the SAT trend in the Chukchi Sea. A composite calculation of each term in the thermodynamic energy equation for each SOM pattern shows that the SAT anomalies grow primarily through the advection of the climatological temperature by the anomalous wind. This implies that a substantial fraction of Arctic amplification is due to horizontal temperature advection that is driven by changes in the atmospheric circulation. An analysis of the surface energy budget indicates that the skin temperature anomalies as well as the trend, although very similar to that of the SAT, are produced primarily by downward longwave radiation. 
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  7. Intrusions of warm, moist air into the Arctic during winter have emerged as important contributors to Arctic surface warming. Previous studies indicate that temperature, moisture, and hydrometeor enhancements during intrusions all make contributions to surface warming via emission of radiation down to the surface. Here, datasets from instrumentation at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement User Facility in Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow) for the six months from November through April for the six winter seasons of 2013/14–2018/19 were used to quantify the atmospheric state. These datasets subsequently served as inputs to compute surface downwelling longwave irradiances via radiative transfer computations at 1-min intervals with different combinations of constituents over the six winter seasons. The computed six winter average irradiance with all constituents included was 205.0 W m−2, close to the average measured irradiance of 206.7 W m−2, a difference of −0.8%. During this period, water vapor was the most important contributor to the irradiance. The computed average irradiance with dry gas was 71.9 W m−2. Separately adding water vapor, liquid, or ice to the dry atmosphere led to average increases of 2.4, 1.8, and 1.6 times the dry atmosphere irradiance, respectively. During the analysis period, 15 episodes of warm, moist air intrusions were identified. During the intrusions, individual contributions from elevated temperature, water vapor, liquid water, and ice water were found to be comparable to each other. These findings indicate that all properties of the atmospheric state must be known in order to quantify the radiation coming down to the Arctic surface during winter.

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  8. Abstract The relationship between latent heating over the Greenland, Barents, and Kara Seas (GBKS hereafter) and Rossby wave propagation between the Arctic and midlatitudes is investigated using global reanalysis data. Latent heating is the focus because it is the most likely source of Rossby wave activity over the Arctic Ocean. Given that the Rossby wave time scale is on the order of several days, the analysis is carried out using a daily latent heating index that resembles the interdecadal latent heating trend during the winter season. The results from regression calculations find a trans-Arctic Rossby wave train that propagates from the subtropics, through the midlatitudes, into the Arctic, and then back into midlatitudes over a period of about 10 days. Upon entering the GBKS, this wave train transports moisture into the region, resulting in anomalous latent heat release. At high latitudes, the overlapping of a negative latent heating anomaly with an anomalous high is consistent with anomalous latent heat release fueling the Rossby wave train before it propagates back into the midlatitudes. This implies that the Rossby wave propagation from the Arctic into the midlatitudes arises from trans-Arctic wave propagation rather than from in situ generation. The method used indicates the variance of the trans-Arctic wave train, but not in situ generation, and implies that the variance of the former is greater than that of latter. Furthermore, GBKS sea ice concentration regression against the latent heating index shows the largest negative value six days afterward, indicating that sea ice loss contributes little to the latent heating. 
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  9. Abstract Composite analysis is used to examine the physical processes that drive the growth and decay of the surface air temperature anomaly pattern associated with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Using the thermodynamic energy equation that the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts implements in their reanalysis model, we show that advection of the climatological temperature field by the anomalous wind drives the surface air temperature anomaly pattern for both NAO phases. Diabatic processes exist in strong opposition to this temperature advection and eventually cause the surface air temperature anomalies to return to their climatological values. Specifically, over Greenland, Europe, and the United States, longwave heating/cooling opposes horizontal temperature advection while over northern Africa vertical mixing opposes horizontal temperature advection. Despite the pronounced spatial correspondence between the skin temperature and surface air temperature anomaly patterns, the physical processes that drive these two temperature anomalies associated with the NAO are found to be distinct. The skin temperature anomaly pattern is driven by downward longwave radiation whereas stated above, the surface air temperature anomaly pattern is driven by horizontal temperature advection. This implies that the surface energy budget, although a useful diagnostic tool for understanding skin temperature changes, should not be used to understand surface air temperature changes. 
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  10. Abstract Radiative transfer calculations are conducted to determine the contribution of temperature and water vapor anomalies toward the surface clear-sky downward longwave radiation (DLR) anomalies of the NAO. These calculations are motivated by the finding that the NAO’s skin temperature anomalies are driven primarily by changes in surface DLR. The clear-sky radiative transfer calculations follow the result that the clear-sky surface DLR anomalies can account for most of the all-sky surface DLR anomalies of the NAO. The results of the radiative transfer calculations prompt an analysis of the thermodynamic energy and total column water (TCW) budget equations, as water vapor and temperature anomalies are found to be equally important drivers of the surface DLR anomalies of the NAO. Composite analysis of the thermodynamic energy equation reveals that the temperature anomalies of the NAO are wind driven: the advection of climatological temperature by the anomalous wind drives the NAO’s temperature anomalies at all levels except for those in the upper troposphere–lower stratosphere where the advection of anomalous temperature by the climatological wind becomes dominant. A similar analysis of the TCW budget reveals that changes in TCW are driven by water flux convergence. In addition to determining the drivers of the temperature and TCW anomalies, the thermodynamic energy and water budget analyses reveal that the decay of the temperature anomalies occurs primarily through vertical mixing, and that of the water anomalies mostly by evaporation minus precipitation. 
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