Newman M. and P. D. Sardeshmukh (September 2008): Tropical and Stratospheric Influences on Extratropical Short-Term Climate Variability. J. Climate, 21 (17), 4326-4347. doi:10.1175/2008JCLI2118.1

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The relative impacts of tropical diabatic heating and stratospheric circulation anomalies on wintertime extratropical tropospheric variability are investigated in a linear inverse model (LIM) derived from the observed zero lag and 5-day lag covariances of 7-day running mean departures from the annual cycle. The model predicts the covariances at all other lags. The predicted and observed lag covariances are generally found to be in excellent agreement, even at the much longer lag of 21 days. This validates the LIM’s basic premise that the dynamics of weekly averages are effectively linear and stochastically driven, which justifies further linear diagnosis of the system. Analysis of interactions among the LIM’s variables shows that tropical diabatic heating greatly enhances persistent variability over most of the Northern Hemisphere, especially over the Pacific Ocean and North America. Stratospheric effects are largely confined to the polar region, where they ensure that the dominant pattern of sea level pressure variability is the annular Arctic Oscillation rather than the more localized North Atlantic Oscillation. Over the North Atlantic, both effects are important, although some of the stratospheric influence is ultimately traceable to tropical forcing. In general, the tropically forced anomalies extend through the depth of the troposphere and into the stratosphere, whereas stratospherically generated anomalies tend to be largest at the surface and relatively weak at midtropospheric levels. Some persistent variability is, however, found even in the absence of these “external” forcings, especially near the amplitude maxima of the leading eigenmodes of the internal extratropical tropospheric evolution operator. One of these eigenmodes has a circumglobal zonal wavenumber-5 structure with maxima over the Arabian Sea and the central Pacific, and two others are associated with north–south dipole variations across the North Atlantic jet. Overall, tropical influences are generally found to be larger than stratospheric influences on extratropical tropospheric variability and have a pronounced impact on the persistent, and therefore the potentially predictable, portion of that variability.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: PSD Publications
Divisions: Physical Sciences Division
DOI: 10.1175/2008JCLI2118.1