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Evidence for wave resonance as a key mechanism for generating high-amplitude quasi-stationary waves in boreal summer

Abstract

Several recent northern hemisphere summer extremes have been linked to persistent high-amplitude wave patterns (e.g. heat waves in Europe 2003, Russia 2010 and in the US 2011, Floods in Pakistan 2010 and Europe 2013). Recently quasi-resonant amplification (QRA) was proposed as a mechanism that, when certain dynamical conditions are fulfilled, can lead to such high-amplitude wave events. Based on these resonance conditions a detection scheme to scan reanalysis data for QRA events in boreal summer months was implemented. With this objective detection scheme we analyzed the occurrence and duration of QRA events and the associated atmospheric flow patterns in 1979–2015 reanalysis data. We detect a total number of 178 events for wave 6, 7 and 8 and find that during roughly one-third of all high amplitude events QRA conditions were met for respective waves. Our analysis reveals a significant shift for quasi-stationary waves 6 and 7 towards high amplitudes during QRA events, lagging first QRA-detection by typically one week. The results provide further evidence for the validity of the QRA hypothesis and its important role in generating high amplitude waves in boreal summer.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis Project at the NOAA/ESRL Physical Sciences Division for making their data available. The presented work was supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Grant No. 01LN1304A). We also gratefully acknowledge the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Land Brandenburg for supporting this project by providing resources on the high performance computer system at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their comments which much improved this manuscript.

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Correspondence to K. Kornhuber.

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Appendix

Appendix

See Figs. 9, 10, 11.

Fig. 9
figure9

The 15 day running mean fields of the azonal geopotential height (line contours, South–North: blue, dashed, North–South: red, zero-line: black, long-dashed) and temperature anomalies (filled contours) of the NH mid-latitudes during the nine longest resonance episodes detected (as in Figs. 5, 7; Tab. A2). Geopotential height—and temperature anomalies are averaged over the 15 days centered on the day with the highest wave amplitude within the respective QRA period. Landmass is depicted in dark grey by their coastlines

Fig. 10
figure10

Data as in Fig. 5 showing exemplary summer days without QRA being detected

Fig. 11
figure11

As in Fig. 7, temperature anomalies (shading) and v-winds (colored line contours red Northward flow; blue Southward flow), during those exemplary Non-QRA episodes depicted in Fig. 10

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Kornhuber, K., Petoukhov, V., Petri, S. et al. Evidence for wave resonance as a key mechanism for generating high-amplitude quasi-stationary waves in boreal summer. Clim Dyn 49, 1961–1979 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-016-3399-6

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Keywords

  • Rossby waves
  • Wave resonance
  • Atmospheric dynamics
  • Extreme weather