Climate Dynamics

, Volume 38, Issue 11–12, pp 2467–2481 | Cite as

A methodology for the comparison of blocking climatologies across indices, models and climate scenarios

  • Elizabeth A. BarnesEmail author
  • Julia Slingo
  • Tim Woollings


There is urgent need for a consistent blocking identification method that can be used and compared across reanalyses, models and climate scenarios. We present such a method and diagnose daily blocking frequency in 43 years (1958–2000) of ERA-40 Reanalysis for indices defined on both the commonly used geopotential height and potential temperature fields as well as a zonal wind index. Applications of various blocking indices to the same data highlights the importance of a consistent methodology for comparison and a method that identifies blocks along a path that varies with the latitude of the storm track. Since the method accommodates blocking detection using 500 mb zonal-wind which is readily available in climate model output, we diagnose blocking in 14 CMIP3 models under two different greenhouse gas scenarios. Blocking duration remains nearly constant among the scenarios, but a robust reduction in blocking frequency with global warming is demonstrated.


Blocking anticyclone Climate change CMIP3 AR4 



We are indebted to ECMWF for providing the ERA-40. This work was supported by the STC program of the National Science Foundation via the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics under the agreement EAR- 0120914 and by the STC International Research Experience Program of the NSF through the Nanobiotechnology Center under Agreement ECS-9876771. This work was also supported by the Climate Dynamics Program of the National Science Foundation under grant ATM 0409075. We acknowledge the modeling groups, the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) and the WCRP’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling (WGCM) for their roles in making available the WCRP CMIP3 multi-model dataset. Support of this dataset is provided by the Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth A. Barnes
    • 1
    Email author
  • Julia Slingo
    • 2
  • Tim Woollings
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Atmospheric SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Met OfficeExeterUK
  3. 3.Department of MeteorologyUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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