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  1. Abstract

    This paper compares surface signatures of the zonally symmetric and asymmetric modes of stratospheric variability, which describe the strength of the polar vortex and a planetary wave‐1 pattern, respectively. Unlike a weak polar vortex followed by negative Arctic Oscillation–like anomalies, strong stratospheric wave activity features a polar vortex displacement with a deep planetary wave‐1 structure, resulting in positive North Atlantic Oscillation–like North American cooling in about 10 days. Moreover, the linkage between the stratosphere and surface is examined in two reanalyzes and four models of different configurations, which show more robust North American cooling following the displacement of the polar vortex due to strong stratospheric wave activity than the zonally symmetric weakening of the polar vortex. This suggests strong stratospheric wave activity acts as a better predictor for cold spells in the northern U.S. and Canada compared with a weak polar vortex.

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  2. Abstract

    The atmospheric river (AR) response to Arctic sea ice loss in the Northern hemisphere winter is investigated using simulations from the Polar Amplification Model Intercomparison Project. Results have shown that the midlatitude responses are dominated by dynamic effects. Poleward of around, the dynamic and thermodynamic effects cancel each other, resulting in relatively small responses. The response uncertainty can be characterized by leading uncertainty modes, with the responses over the Pacific and Atlantic projecting onto the northeastward extension and equatorward shift mode, respectively. In addition, the responses seem to be mean state‐dependent: under the same forcing, models with more poleward‐located climatological ARs tend to show stronger equatorward shifts over the Atlantic; over the Pacific, models with more westward‐located climatological AR core tend to show stronger northeastward extensions. These relationships highlight the importance of improving the AR climatology representation on reducing the response uncertainty to Arctic sea ice loss.

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  3. Abstract

    Large meridional excursions of a jet stream are conducive to blocking and related midlatitude weather extremes, yet the physical mechanism of jet meandering is not well understood. This paper examines the mechanisms of jet meandering in boreal winter through the lens of a potential vorticity (PV)-like tracer advected by reanalysis winds in an advection–diffusion model. As the geometric structure of the tracer displays a compact relationship with PV in observations and permits a linear mapping from tracer to PV at each latitude, jet meandering can be understood by the geometric structure of tracer field that is only a function of prescribed advecting velocities. This one-way dependence of tracer field on advecting velocities provides a new modeling framework to quantify the effects of time mean flow versus transient eddies on the spatiotemporal variability of jet meandering. It is shown that the mapped tracer wave activity resembles the observed spatial pattern and magnitude of PV wave activity for the winter climatology, interannual variability, and blocking-like wave events. The anomalous increase in tracer wave activity for the composite over interannual variability or blocking-like wave events is attributed to weakened composite mean winds, indicating that the low-frequency winds are the leading factor for the overall distributions of wave activity. It is also found that the tracer model underestimates extreme wave activity, likely due to the lack of feedback mechanisms. The implications for the mechanisms of jet meandering in a changing climate are also discussed.

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  4. Abstract

    The present study examines the northern stratosphere during April 2020, when the polar vortex split into two cyclonic vortices during a winter‐early spring period with the strongest ozone depletion on record. We investigate the dynamical evolution leading to the split at middle stratospheric levels, including the fate of fluid parcels on the vortex boundary during its rupture and the distribution of ozone between the vortices resulting from the split. We also illustrate the vertical structure of the vortices after the split. The findings obtained with Lagrangian methods confirm the key role for the split played by a flow with a special configuration of barriers to the motion of parcels. A trajectory analysis clarifies how the ozone distribution between vortices was such that ozone poorest air remained in the main vortex. The offspring vortex had a deep structure from the troposphere and later decayed to vanish by the end of April.

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  5. Abstract

    The atmospheric river (AR) frequency trends over the Southern Hemisphere are investigated using three reanalyses and two Community Earth System Model (CESM) ensembles. The results show that AR frequency has been increasing over the Southern Ocean and decreasing over lower latitudes in the past four decades and that ARs have been shifting poleward. While the observed trends are mostly driven by the poleward shift of the westerly jet, fully coupled CESM experiments indicate anthropogenic forcing would result in positive AR frequency trends over the Southern Ocean due mostly to moisture changes. The difference between the observed trends and anthropogenically driven trends can be largely reconciled by the atmosphere‐only CESM simulations forced by observed sea surface temperatures: Sea surface temperature variability characteristic of the negative phase of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation strongly suppresses the moisture‐driven trends while enhances the circulation‐induced trends over the Southern Ocean, thus bringing the simulated trends into closer agreement with the observed trends.

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  6. Abstract

    Recent studies have shown a large spread in the transport of atmospheric tracers into the Arctic among a suite of chemistry climate models and have suggested that this is related to the spread in the meridional extent of the Hadley Cell (HC). Here we examine the HC‐transport relationship using an idealized model, where we vary the mean circulation and isolate its impact on transport to the Arctic. It is shown that the poleward transport depends on the relative position between the northern edge of the HC and the tracer source, with maximum transport occurring when the HC edge lies near the middle of the source region. Such dependence highlights the critical role of near‐surface transport by the Eulerian mean circulation rather than eddy mixing in the free troposphere and suggests that variations in the HC edge and the tracer source region are both important for modeling Arctic composition.

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  7. Abstract

    While the observed decline of sea ice over the Chukchi‐Bering Sea (CBS) has coincided with the “warm‐Arctic, cold‐continent” (WACC) pattern over the North America (NA) sector, there is a debate on the causes of the WACC pattern. Here we present a very similar WACC pattern over the NA sector on both interannual and subseasonal time scales. Lead‐lag regression analyses on the shorter time scale indicate that an anomalous anticyclonic circulation over Alaska/Yukon in conjunction with the downward surface turbulent heat flux and long‐wave radiation anomalies over CBS leads the formation of the WACC pattern by about 1–2 days, while the latter further leads CBS sea ice reduction by about 3 days. These results indicate that atmospheric variability may play an active role in driving both the WACC pattern over NA and CBS sea ice variability.

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  8. Abstract Interannual variability of the winter AR activities over the Northern hemisphere is investigated. The leading modes of AR variability over the North Pacific and North Atlantic are first identified and characterized. Over the Pacific, the first mode is characterized by a dipole structure with enhanced AR frequency along the AR peak region at about 30° N and reduced AR frequency further north. The second mode exhibits a tri-pole structure with a narrow band of positive AR anomalies at about 30° N and sandwiched by negative anomalies. Over the Atlantic, the first mode exhibits an equatorward shift of the ARs with positive anomalies and negative anomalies located on the equatorward and poleward side of the AR peak region at about 40° N , respectively. The second mode is associated with the strengthening and eastward extension of the AR peak region which is sandwiched by negative anomalies. A large ensemble of atmospheric global climate models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 6 (CMIP6), which shows high skills in simulating these modes, is then used to quantify the roles of sea surface temperature (SST) forcing versus internal atmospheric variability in driving the formation of these modes. Results show that SST forcing explains about half of the variance for the Pacific leading modes, while that number drops to about a quarter for the Atlantic leading modes, suggesting higher predictability for the Pacific AR variability. Additional ensemble driven only by observed tropical SST is further utilized to demonstrate the more important role that tropical SST plays in controlling the Pacific AR variability while both tropical and extratropical SST exert comparable influences on the Atlantic AR variability. 
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  9. Abstract The relative roles of upper- and lower-level thermal forcing in shifting the eddy driven jet are investigated using a multi-level nonlinear quasi-geostrophic channel model. The numerical experiments show that the upper-level thermal forcing is more efficient in shifting the eddy-driven jet. The finite-amplitude wave activity diagnostics of numerical results show that the dominance of the upper-level thermal forcing over the lower-level thermal forcing can be understood from their different influence on eddy generation and dissipation that affects the jet shift. The upper-level thermal forcing shifts the jet primarily by affecting the baroclinic generation of eddies. The lower-level thermal forcing influences the jet mainly by affecting the wave breaking and dissipation. The former eddy response turns out to be more efficient for the thermal forcing to shift the eddy-driven jet. Furthermore, two quantitative relationships based on the imposed thermal forcing are proposed to quantify the response of both eddy generation and eddy dissipation, and thus to help predict the shift of eddy-driven jet in response to the vertically non-uniform thermal forcing. By conducting the overriding experiments in which the response of barotropic zonal wind is locked in the model and a multi-wavenumber theory in which the eddy diffusivity is decomposed to contributions from eddies and mean flow, we find that the eddy generation response is sensitive to the vertical structure of the thermal forcing and can be quantified by the imposed temperature gradient in the upper troposphere. In contrast, the response of eddy diffusivity is almost vertically independent of the imposed forcing, and can be quantified by the imposed vertically-averaged thermal wind. 
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  10. Abstract Key processes associated with the leading intraseasonal variability mode of wintertime surface air temperature (SAT) over Eurasia and the Arctic region are investigated in this study. Characterized by a dipole distribution in SAT anomalies centered over north Eurasia and the Arctic, respectively, and coherent temperature anomalies vertically extending from the surface to 300 hPa, this leading intraseasonal SAT mode and associated circulation have pronounced influences on global surface temperature anomalies including the East Asian winter monsoon region. By taking advantage of realistic simulations of the intraseasonal SAT mode in a global climate model, it is illustrated that temperature anomalies in the troposphere associated with the leading SAT mode are mainly due to dynamic processes, especially via the horizontal advection of winter mean temperature by intraseasonal circulation. While the cloud–radiative feedback is not critical in sustaining the temperature variability in the troposphere, it is found to play a crucial role in coupling temperature anomalies at the surface and in the free atmosphere through anomalous surface downward longwave radiation. The variability in clouds associated with the intraseasonal SAT mode is closely linked to moisture anomalies generated by similar advective processes as for temperature anomalies. Model experiments suggest that this leading intraseasonal SAT mode can be sustained by internal atmospheric processes in the troposphere over the mid- to high latitudes by excluding forcings from Arctic sea ice variability, tropical convective variability, and the stratospheric processes. 
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