Climate Dynamics

, Volume 49, Issue 1–2, pp 23–35 | Cite as

The effect of preceding wintertime Arctic polar vortex on springtime NDVI patterns in boreal Eurasia, 1982–2015

  • Jing Li
  • Ke Fan
  • Jianjun Xu
  • Alfred M. PowellJr.
  • Felix Kogan


The polar vortex is implicated in certain cold events in boreal Eurasia and has a further influence on land surface properties (e.g., vegetation and snow) during spring. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) can be used as a proxy of land surface responses to climate changes to a certain degree. In this study, we demonstrate the significant correlation between preceding wintertime Arctic polar vortex intensity (WAPVI) and springtime NDVI (SNDVI) over a 34-year period (1982–2015) in boreal Eurasia (50°–75°N, 0°–150°E). Results show that a positive phase of WAPVI tends to increase the SNDVI in Europe and Lake Baikal, but causes a significant decrease in Siberia; the physical mechanisms involved in this relationship are then investigated. A positive phase of WAPVI leads to anomalies in surface air temperature and rainfall over Eurasia, which then induces a significant decrease in snow cover and snow depth in Europe and Lake Baikal and an increase of snow depth in Siberia. The colder ground temperature in Siberia during spring is considered responsible for the stronger snow depth and weaker vegetation growth in this region. The weaker and thinner snow cover in Europe and Baikal produces a decrease in albedo and an increase in heat. Thin snow melts fast in the following spring and land releases more heat to the atmosphere; consequently, warm and moist land surface facilitates vegetation growth in Europe and the Baikal regions during positive WAPVI years. In addition, WAPVI can induce sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the North Atlantic, which displays a tripole pattern similar to that of the empirical mode pattern in winter. Furthermore, the SST anomalous pattern persisting from winter to spring can trigger a stationary wave-train propagating from west to east in boreal Eurasia, with “negative–positive–negative–positive” geopotential height anomalies, which further exerts an impact on vegetation growth through modulation of the heat balance.


NDVI Arctic polar vortex intensity Non-simultaneous Boreal Eurasia 



We would like to thank the editor and reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions. This work was supported by the National Nature Science Foundation of China (41325018, 41575079, 41421004) and Innovative International Team of Chinese Academy of Science “high resolution numerical simulation on regional environment”. NCEP/NCAR monthly reanalysis data were obtained from the NOAA/CDC web site (, and NDVI data were obtained from NOAA/NESDIS/STAR ( The authors would like to thank these agencies for providing the data. This work was also supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS), Center for Satellite Applications and Research (STAR).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nansen-Zhu International Research Centre, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.College of Ocean and MeteorologyGuangdong Ocean UniversityZhanjiangChina
  3. 3.Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological DisastersNanjing University of Information Science and TechnologyNanjingChina
  4. 4.Center for Satellite Applications and Research (STAR)NOAA/NESDISCollege ParkUSA
  5. 5.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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