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A closer look at the relationships between meridional mass circulation pulses in the stratosphere and cold air outbreak patterns in northern hemispheric winter

Abstract

The relationship between continental-scale cold air outbreaks (CAOs) in the mid-latitudes and pulse signals in the stratospheric mass circulation in Northern Hemisphere winter (December–February) is investigated using ERA-Interim data for the 32 winters from 1979 to 2011. Pulse signals in the stratospheric mass circulation include “PULSE_TOT”, “PULSE_W1”, and “PULSE_W2” events, defined as a period of stronger meridional mass transport into the polar stratosphere by total flow, wavenumber-1, and wavenumber-2, respectively. Each type of PULSE event occurs on average 4–6 times per winter. A robust relationship is found between two dominant patterns of winter CAOs and PULSE_W1 and PULSE_W2 events. Cold temperature anomalies tend to occur over Eurasia with the other continent anomalously warm during the 2 weeks before the peak dates of PULSE_W1 events, while the opposite temperature anomaly pattern can be found after the peak dates; and during the 1–2 weeks centered on the peak dates of PULSE_W2 events, a higher probability of occurrence of CAOs is found over both continents. These relationships become more robust for PULSE_W1 and PULSE_W2 events of larger peak intensity. PULSE_TOT events are classified into five types, which have a distinct coupling relationship with PULSE_W1 and PULSE_W2 events. The specific pattern of CAOs associated with each type of PULSE_TOT event is found to be a combination of the CAO patterns associated with PULSE_W1 and PULSE_W2 events. The percentage of PULSE_TOT events belonging to the types that are dominated by PULSE_W2 events increases with the peak intensity of PULSE_TOT events. Accordingly, the related CAO pattern is close to that associated with PULSE_W1 for PULSE_TOT events with small-to-medium intensity, but tends to resemble that associated with PULSE_W2 events as the peak intensity of PULSE_TOT events increases.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation of China (41705039, 41575041, 41430533, 41705024), the Startup Foundation for Introducing Talent of NUIST (2017r068), and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD). The ERA-Interim datasets are available from the ECMWF (http://www.ecmwf.int).

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Correspondence to Yueyue Yu.

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Yu, Y., Cai, M., Ren, R. et al. A closer look at the relationships between meridional mass circulation pulses in the stratosphere and cold air outbreak patterns in northern hemispheric winter. Clim Dyn 51, 3125–3143 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-018-4069-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-018-4069-7

Keywords

  • Stratospheric mass circulation
  • Cold air outbreaks
  • Spatial scale of waves