Climate Dynamics

, Volume 39, Issue 1–2, pp 313–327 | Cite as

Interdecadal changes in the storm track activity over the North Pacific and North Atlantic

  • Sun-Seon Lee
  • June-Yi Lee
  • Bin Wang
  • Kyung-Ja Ha
  • Ki-Young Heo
  • Fei-Fei Jin
  • David M. Straus
  • Jagadish Shukla


Analysis of NCEP-NCAR I reanalysis data of 1948–2009 and ECMWF ERA-40 reanalysis data of 1958–2001 reveals several significant interdecadal changes in the storm track activity and mean flow-transient eddy interaction in the extratropics of Northern Hemisphere. First, the most remarkable transition in the North Pacific storm track (PST) and the North Atlantic storm track (AST) activities during the boreal cold season (from November to March) occurred around early-to-mid 1970s with the characteristics of global intensification that has been noticed in previous studies. Second, the PST activity in midwinter underwent decadal change from a weak regime in the early 1980s to a strong regime in the late 1980s. Third, during recent decade, the PST intensity has been enhanced in early spring whereas the AST intensity has been weakened in midwinter. Finally, interdecadal change has been also noted in the relationship between the PST and AST activities and between the storm track activity and climate indices. The variability of storm track activity is well correlated with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and North Atlantic Oscillation prior to the early 1980s, but this relationship has disappeared afterward and a significant linkage between the PST and AST activity has also been decoupled. For a better understanding of the mid-1970s’ shift in storm track activity and mean flow-transient eddy interaction, further investigation is made by analyzing local barotropic and baroclinic energetics. The intensification of global storm track activity after the mid-1970s is mainly associated with the enhancement of mean meridional temperature gradient resulting in favorable condition for baroclinic eddy growth. Consistent with the change in storm track activity, the baroclinic energy conversion is significantly increased in the North Pacific and North Atlantic. The intensification of the PST and AST activity, in turn, helps to reinforce the changes in the middle-to-upper tropospheric circulation but acts to interfere with the changes in the low-tropospheric temperature field.


Storm track Interdecadal shift Climate change Barotropic and baroclinic energetics Mean flow-eddy interaction 



This work was supported by the Global Research Laboratory (GRL) Program from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST), Korea. J.-Y. Lee and B. Wang acknowledge support from the Korean Meteorological Administration Research and Development Program under Grant RACS 2010–2017 and from International Pacific Research Center, which is in part supported by JAMSTEC, NOAA, and NASA. This is SOEST publication number 8483 and IPRC publication number 817.


  1. Baldwin MP, Dunkerton TJ (2001) Stratospheric harbingers of anomalous weather regimes. Science 244:581–584CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blackmon ML (1976) A climatological spectral study of the 500 mb geopotential height of the northern hemisphere. J Atmos Sci 33:1607–1623CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blackmon ML, Wallace JM, Lau NC, Mullen SL (1977) An observational study of the northern hemisphere wintertime circulation. J Atmos Sci 34:1040–1053CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cai M, Mak M (1990) On the basic dynamics of regional cyclogenesis. J Atmos Sci 47:1417–1442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cai M, Yang S, Van den Dool HM, Kousky VE (2007) Dynamical implications of the orientation of atmospheric eddies: a local energetics perspective. Tellus 59A:127–140Google Scholar
  6. Castanheira JM, Graf HF (2003) North Pacific-North Atlantic relationships under stratospheric control? J Geophys Res 108:4036. doi: 10.1029/2002JD002754 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chang EKM (2004) Are the northern hemisphere winter storm tracks significantly correlated? J Clim 17:4230–4244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chang EKM, Fu Y (2002) Interdecadal variations in northern hemisphere winter storm track intensity. J Clim 15:642–658CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chang EKM, Fu Y (2003) Using mean flow change as a proxy to infer interdecadal storm track variability. J Clim 16:2178–2196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chang EKM, Lee S, Swanson KL (2002) Storm track dynamics. J Clim 15:2163–2183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chen TC, Yoon JH (2002) Interdecadal variation of the North Pacific wintertime blocking. Mon Weather Rev 130:3136–3143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dole RM, Black RX (1990) Life cycles of persistent anomalies. Part II: the development of persistent negative height anomalies over the North Pacific Ocean. Mon Weather Rev 118:824–846CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Eichler T, Higgins W (2006) Climatology and ENSO-related variability of North American extratropical cyclone activity. J Clim 19:2076–2093CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hare SHE, James IN (2001) Baroclinic developments in jet entrances and exits. I: linear normal modes. Q J R Meteorol Soc 127:1293–1303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Harnik N, Chang EKM (2003) Storm track variations as seen in radiosonde observations and reanalysis data. J Clim 16:480–495CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Honda M, Nakamura H (2001) Interannual seesaw between the Aleutian and Icelandic lows. Part II: its significance in the interannual variability over the wintertime northern hemisphere. J Clim 14:4512–4529CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Honda M, Nakamura H, Ukita J, Kousaka I, Takeuchi K (2001) Interannual seesaw between the Aleutian and Icelandic lows. Part I: seasonal dependence and life cycle. J Clim 14:1029–1042CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Honda M, Yamane S, Nakamura H (2005) Impacts of the Aleutian-Icelandic low seesaw on surface climate during the twentieth century. J Clim 18:2793–2802CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hoskins BJ, Valdes PJ (1990) On the existence of storm tracks. J Atmos Sci 47:1854–1864CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jin FF (2010) Eddy-Induced instability for low-frequency variability. J Atmos Sci 67:1947–1964CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kalnay E et al (1996) The NCEP/NCAR 40-Year reanalysis project. Bull Am Meteor Soc 77:437–471CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kug JS, Jin FF, Par JH, Ren HL, Kang IS (2010) A general rule for synoptic-eddy feedback onto low-frequency flow. Clim Dyn 35:1011–1026CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Latif M, Barnett TP (1994) Causes of decadal climate variability over the North Pacific and North America sector. Science 266:634–637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lau NC (1988) Variability of the observed midlatitude storm tracks in relation to low-frequency changes in the circulation patterns. J Atmos Sci 45:2718–2743CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lee S (2000) Barotropic effects on atmospheric storm tracks. J Atmos Sci 57:1420–1435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lee SS, Lee JY, Wang B, Jin FF, Lee WJ, Ha KJ (2011) A comparison of climatological subseasonal variations in the wintertime storm track activity between the North Pacific and Atlantic: local energetics and moisture effect. Clim Dyn. Published online doi: 10.1007/s00382-011-1027-z
  27. Lindzen RS, Farrell BJ (1980) A simple approximate result for the maximum growth rate of baroclinic instabilities. J Atmos Sci 37:1648–1654CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mak M, Deng Y (2007) Diagnostic and dynamical analyses of two outstanding aspects of storm tracks. Dyn Atmos Oceans 43:80–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nakamura H (1992) Midwinter suppression of baroclinic wave activity in the Pacific. J Atmos Sci 49:1629–1642CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nakamura H, Shimpo A (2004) Seasonal variations in the southern hemisphere storm tracks and jet streams as revealed in a reanalysis dataset. J Clim 17:1828–1844CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nakamura H, Izumi T, Sampe T (2002) Interannual and decadal modulations recently observed in the Pacific storm track activity and East Asian winter monsoon. J Clim 15:1855–1874CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nie J, Wang P, Yang W, Tan B (2008) Northern hemisphere storm tracks in strong AO anomaly winters. Atmos Sci Let 9:153–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nonaka M, Nakamura H, Taguchi B, Komori N, Yoshida-Kuwano A, Takaya K (2009) Air-sea heat exchanges characteristic to a prominent midlatitude oceanic front in the South Indian Ocean as simulated in a high-resolution coupled GCM. J Clim 22:6515–6535CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Orsolini YJ, Kvamstø NG, Kindem IT, Honda M, Nakamura H (2008) Influence of the Aleutian-Icelandic low seesaw and ENSO onto the Stratosphere in ensemble winter hindcasts. J Meteorol Soc Jpn 86:817–825CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Penny S, Gerard HR, David SB (2010) The source of the midwinter suppression in storminess over the North Pacific. J Clim 23:634–648CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pinto JG, Reyers M, Ulbrich U (2011) The variable link between PNA and NAO in observations and in multi-century CGCM simulations. Clim Dyn 36:337–354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Raible CC, Luksch U, Fraedrich K, Voss R (2001) North Atlantic decadal regimes in a coupled GCM simulation. Clim Dyn 18:321–330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rivière G, Orlanski I (2007) Characteristics of the Atlantic storm-track eddy activity and its relation with the North Atlantic Oscillation. J Atmos Sci 64:241–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sampe T, Nakamura H, Goto A, Ohfuchi W (2010) Significance of a midlatitude SST frontal zone in the formation of a storm track and an eddy-driven westerly jet. J Clim 23:1793–1814CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Straus DM, Shukla J (1997) Variations of midlatitude transient dynamics associated with ENSO. J Atmos Sci 54:777–790CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Taguchi B, Nakamura H, Nonaka M, Xie SP (2009) Influences of the Kuroshio/Oyashio extensions on air–sea heat exchanges and storm-track activity as revealed in regional atmospheric model simulations for the 2003/04 cold season. J Clim 22:6536–6560CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tomita H, Kubota M (2005) Increase in turbulent heat flux during the 1990s over the Kuroshio/Oyashio extension region. Geophys Res Lett 32:L09705. doi: 10.1029/2004GL022075 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Trenberth KE (1990) Recent observed interdecadal climate changes in the northern hemisphere. Bull Am Meteor Soc 71:988–993CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Trenberth KE, Hurrell JW (1994) Decadal atmosphere-ocean variations in the Pacific. Clim Dyn 9:303–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Uppala SM et al (2005) The ERA-40 re-analysis. Q J R Meteorol Soc 131:2961–3012CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. van Loon H, Rogers JC (1978) The seesaw in winter temperatures between Greenland and Northern Europe. Part I: general description. Mon Weather Rev 106:296–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wang B, Barcilon A (1986) Moist stability of a baroclinic zonal flow with conditionally unstable stratification. J Atmos Sci 43:705–719CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Woollings T, Hannachi A, Hoskins B (2010) Variability of the North Atlantic eddy-driven jet stream. Q J R Meteorol Soc 136:856–868CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Yonetani T, McCabe GJ (1994) Abrupt changes in regional temperature in the conterminous United States. Clim Res 4:12–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Zhang Y, Held IM (1999) A linear stochastic model of a GCM’s midlatitude storm tracks. J Atmos Sci 56:3416–3435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Zhang R, Li G, Fan J, Wu DL, Molina MJ (2007) Intensification of Pacific storm track linked to Asian pollution. Proc Nat Acad Sci 104:5295–5299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zhu W, Sun Z (1999) Influence of ENSO event on the maintenance of Pacific storm track in the Northern winter. Adv Atmos Sci 16:630–640CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sun-Seon Lee
    • 1
  • June-Yi Lee
    • 2
  • Bin Wang
    • 2
  • Kyung-Ja Ha
    • 1
  • Ki-Young Heo
    • 1
  • Fei-Fei Jin
    • 2
  • David M. Straus
    • 3
    • 4
  • Jagadish Shukla
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of Earth Environmental SystemPusan National UniversityBusanKorea
  2. 2.Department of Meteorology and International Pacific Research CenterUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluHawaii
  3. 3.George Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  4. 4.Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere StudiesCalvertonUSA

Personalised recommendations