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A comparison of climatological subseasonal variations in the wintertime storm track activity between the North Pacific and Atlantic: local energetics and moisture effect

Abstract

Distinct differences of the storm track–jet relationship over the North Pacific and North Atlantic are investigated in terms of barotropic and baroclinic energetics using NCEP-2 reanalysis data for the period of 1979–2008. From fall to midwinter the Pacific storm track (PST) activity weakens following the southward shift of the Pacific jet, whereas the Atlantic storm track (AST) activity remains steady in position and intensifies regardless of the slight southward shift of the Atlantic jet. This study is devoted to seeking for the factors that can contribute to this conspicuous difference between the two storm tracks on climatological subseasonal variation by analyzing eddy properties and local energetics. Different eddy properties over the two oceans lead to different contribution of barotropic energy conversion to the initiation of storm tracks. In the North Atlantic, meridionally elongated eddies gain kinetic energy efficiently from stretching deformation of the mean flow in the jet entrance. On the other hand, the term associated with shearing deformation is important for the initiation of PST. Analysis of baroclinic energetics reveals that the intensification of the AST activity in midwinter is mainly attributed to coincidence between location of maximum poleward and upward eddy heat fluxes and that of the largest meridional temperature gradient over slight upstream of the AST. The relatively large amount of precipitable water and meridional eddy moisture flux along baroclinic energy conversion axis likely provides a more favorable environment for baroclinic eddy growth over the North Atlantic than over the North Pacific. In the meantime, the midwinter minimum of the PST activity is attributable to the southward shift of the Pacific jet stream that leads to discrepancy between core region of poleward and upward heat fluxes and that of meridional thermal gradient. Weakening of eddy-mean flow interaction due to eddy shape and reduction of moist effect are also responsible for the weakening of storm track activities in midwinter when the strongest baroclinicity exists over the North Pacific.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by a grant from the Korean Ministry of Environment as “Eco-technopia 21 project” and the second stage of the Brain Korea 21 Project. J.-Y. Lee and Wang acknowledge support from Korean Meteorological Administration Research and Development Program under grant RACS 2010-2017 and from IPRC, which is in part supported by JAMSTEC, NOAA, and NASA. This is SOEST publication number 8089 and IPRC publication number 750.

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Correspondence to Kyung-Ja Ha.

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Lee, SS., Lee, JY., Wang, B. et al. 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 37, 2455–2469 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-011-1027-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-011-1027-z

Keywords

  • Pacific and Atlantic storm tracks
  • Eddy-mean flow interaction
  • Barotropic and baroclinic energy conversion
  • Moisture effect