Asia-Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Sciences

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 31–43

A theory for polar amplification from a general circulation perspective


    • The Pennsylvania State University
    • School of Earth and Environmental SciencesSeoul National University
    • Department of MeteorologyThe Pennsylvania State University

DOI: 10.1007/s13143-014-0024-7

Cite this article as:
Lee, S. Asia-Pacific J Atmos Sci (2014) 50: 31. doi:10.1007/s13143-014-0024-7


Records of the past climates show a wide range of values of the equator-to-pole temperature gradient, with an apparent universal relationship between the temperature gradient and the globalmean temperature: relative to a reference climate, if the global-mean temperature is higher (lower), the greatest warming (cooling) occurs at the polar regions. This phenomenon is known as polar amplification. Understanding this equator-to-pole temperature gradient is fundamental to climate and general circulation, yet there is no established theory from a perspective of the general circulation. Here, a general circulation-based theory for polar amplification is presented. Recognizing the fact that most of the available potential energy (APE) in the atmosphere is untapped, this theory invokes that La-Niña-like tropical heating can help tap APE and warm the Arctic by exciting poleward and upward propagating Rossby waves.


Polar amplificationgeneral circulationequable climate
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© Korean Meteorological Society and Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014