Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 147–164

Characteristics of Arctic synoptic activity, 1952–1989


  • M. C. Serreze
    • Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental SciencesUniversity of Colorado
  • J. E. Box
    • Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental SciencesUniversity of Colorado
  • R. G. Barry
    • Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental SciencesUniversity of Colorado
  • J. E. Walsh
    • Department of Atmospheric SciencesUniversity of Illinois
Large-Scale Circulation

DOI: 10.1007/BF01030491

Cite this article as:
Serreze, M.C., Box, J.E., Barry, R.G. et al. Meteorl. Atmos. Phys. (1993) 51: 147. doi:10.1007/BF01030491


Synoptic activity for the Arctic is examined for the period 1952–1989 using the National Meteorological Center sea level pressure data set. Winter cyclone activity is most common near Iceland, between Svalbard and Scandinavia, the Norwegian and Kara seas, Baffin Bay and the eastern Canadian Arctic Archipelago; the strongest systems are found in the Iceland and Norwegian seas. Mean cyclone tracks, prepared for 1975–1989, confirm that winter cyclones most frequently enter the Arctic from the Norwegian and Barents seas. Winter anticyclones are most frequent and strongest over Siberia and Alaska/Yukon, with additional frequency maxima of weaker systems found over the central Arctic Ocean and Greenland.

During summer, cyclonic activity remains common in the same regions as observed for winter, but increases over Siberia, the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and the Central Aretic, related to cyclogenesis over northern parts of Eurasia and North America. Eurasian cyclones tend to enter the Aretic Ocean from the Laptev Sea eastward to the Chukchi Sea, augmenting the influx of systems from the Norwegian and Barents seas. The Siberian and Alaska/Yukon anticyclone centers disappear, with anticyclone maxima forming over the Kara, Laptev, East Siberian and Beaufort seas, and southeastward across Canada. Summer cyclones and anticyclones exhibit little regional variability in mean central pressure, and are typically 5–10 mb weaker than their winter counterparts.

North of 65°N, cyclone and anticyclone activity peaks curing summer, and is at a minimum during winter. Trends in cyclone and anticyclone activity north of 65°N are examined through least squares regression. Since 1952, significant positive trends are found for cyclone numbers during winter, spring and summer, and for anticyclone numbers during spring, summer and autumn.

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© Springer-Verlag 1993