Atmosphere & climate

Feliks Y, Robertson AW, Ghil M. Interannual Variability in North Atlantic Weather: Data Analysis and a Quasigeostrophic Model. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. 2016;73 (8) :3227-3248.Abstract

This paper addresses the effect of interannual variability in jet stream orientation on weather systems over the North Atlantic basin (NAB). The observational analysis relies on 65 yr of NCEP–NCAR reanalysis (1948–2012). The total daily kinetic energy of the geostrophic wind (GTKE) is taken as a measure of storm activity over the North Atlantic. The NAB is partitioned into four rectangular regions, and the winter average of GTKE is calculated for each quadrant. The spatial GTKE average over all four quadrants shows striking year-to-year variability and is strongly correlated with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).The GTKE strength in the northeast quadrant is closely related to the diffluence angle of the jet stream in the northwest quadrant. To gain insight into the relationship between the diffluence angle and its downstream impact, a quasigeostrophic baroclinic model is used. The results show that an initially zonal jet persists at its initial latitude over 30 days or longer, while a tilted jet propagates meridionally according to the Rossby wave group velocity, unless kept stationary by external forcing.A Gulf Stream–like narrow sea surface temperature (SST) front provides the requisite forcing for an analytical steady-state solution to this problem. This SST front influences the atmospheric jet in the northwest quadrant: it both strengthens the jet and tilts it northward at higher levels, while its effect is opposite at lower levels. Reanalysis data confirm these effects, which are consistent with thermal wind balance. The results suggest that the interannual variability found in the GTKE may be caused by intrinsic variability of the thermal Gulf Stream front.

Plaut G, Vautard R. Spells of Low-Frequency Oscillations and Weather Regimes in the Northern Hemisphere. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. 1994;51 (2) :210–236.Abstract
The low-frequency variability in the midlatitudes is described through an analysis of the oscillatory phenomena. In order to isolate nearly periodic components of the atmospheric flow, the multichannel version of the singular spectrum analysis (M-SSA) is developed and applied to an NMC 32-year long set of 700-hPa geopotential heights. In the same way that principal component analysis identifies the spatial patterns dominating the variability, M-SSA identifies dynamically relevant space?time patterns and provides an adaptive filtering technique. Three major low-frequency oscillations (LFOs) are found, with periods of 70 days, 40?45 days, and 30?35 days. The 70-day oscillation consists of fluctuations in both position and amplitude of the Atlantic jet, with a poleward-propagating anomaly pattern. The 40?45-day oscillation is specific to the Pacific sector and has a pronounced Pacific/North American (PNA) structure in its high-amplitude phase. The 30?35-day mode is confined over the Atlantic region, and consists of the retrogression of a dipole pattern. All these oscillations are shown to be intermittently excited, and M-SSA allows the localization of their spells. The two Atlantic oscillations turn out to be frequently phase locked, so that the 30?35-day mode is likely to be a harmonic of the 70-day mode. The phase locking of the Pacific 40?45-day with the Atlantic 30?35-day oscillations is also studied. Next, the relationships between LFOs and weather regimes are studied. It is shown in particular that the occurrence of the Euro-Atlantic blocking regime is strongly favored, although not systematically caused, by particular phases of the 30?35-day mode. The LFOs themselves are able to produce high-amplitude persistent anomalies by interfering with each other. The transition from a zonal regime to a blocking regime is also shown to be highly connected to the life cycle of the 30?35-day mode, indicating that regime transitions do not result only from the random occurrence of particular transient eddy forcing. There are preferred paths between weather regimes. This result leaves us with the hope that at least the large-scale environment-favoring weather regimes may be forecast in the long range. Conditional probability of occurrence of blocking, 30 days ahead, is enhanced, relative to climatological probability, by a factor of 2 if the phase of the 30?35-day oscillation is known. This also emphasizes the necessity of operational models to represent correctly the extratropical LFOs in order to produce skillful long-range and even medium-range forecasts of weather regimes.
Penland C, Ghil M. Forecasting Northern Hemisphere 700\mbox-mb geopotential height anomalies using empirical normal modes. Monthly Weather Review. 1993;121 (8) :2355–2372.Abstract
Multivariate linear prediction based on single-lag inverse modeling is developed further and critically examined. The method is applied to the National Meteorological Center analyses of Northern Hemisphere 700-mb geopotential height anomalies, which have been filtered to eliminate periods shorter than 10 days. Empirically derived normal modes of the randomly forced linear system are usually correlated, even at zero lag, suggesting that combinations of modes should be used in predictions. Due to nonlinearities in the dynamics and the neglect of interactions with other pressure levels, the lag at which the analysis is performed is crucial; best predictions obtain when the autocovariances involved in the analysis are calculated at a lag comparable to the exponential decay times of the modes. Errors in prediction have a significant seasonal dependence, indicating that the annual cycle affects the higher-order statistics of the field. Optimized linear predictions using this method are useful for about half a day longer than predictions made by persistence. Conditional probabilities are much more efficiently calculated using normal-mode parameters than from histograms, and yield similar results. Maps of the model's Fourier spectra—integrated over specified frequency intervals and consistent with the assumptions made in a linear analysis—agree with maps obtained from fast Fourier transforms of the data.
Kimoto M, Ghil M. Multiple flow regimes in the Northern Hemisphere winter. Part I: Methodology and hemispheric regimes. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. 1993;50 (16) :2625–2644.Abstract
Recurrent and persistent flow patterns are identified by examining multivariate probability density functions (PDFs) in the phase space of large-scale atmospheric motions. This idea is pursued systematically here in the hope of clarifying the extent to which intraseasonal variability can be described and understood in terms of multiple flow regimes. Bivariate PDFs of the Northern Hemisphere (NH) wintertime anomaly heights at 700 mb are examined in the present paper, using a 37-year dataset. The two-dimensional phase plane is defined by the two leading empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs) of the anomaly fields. PDFs on this plane exhibit synoptically intriguing and statistically significant inhomogeneities on the periphery of the distribution. It is shown that these inhomogeneities are due to the existence of persistent and recurrent anomaly patterns, well-known as dominant teleconnection patterns; that is, the Pacific/North American (PNA) pattern, its reverse, and zonal and blocked phases of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). It is argued that the inhomogeneities are obscured when PDFs are examined in a smaller-dimensional subspace than dynamically desired.
Ghil M, Mo K. Intraseasonal Oscillations in the Global Atmosphere. Part II: Southern Hemisphere. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. 1991;48 :780–792.Abstract
In Part II of this two-part article, we complete the systematic examination of oscillatory modes in the global atmosphere by studying 12 years of 500 mb geopotential heights in the Southern Hemisphere. As in Part I, for the tropics and Northern Hemisphere extratropics, the data were band-pass filtered to focus on intraseasonal (IS) phenomena, and spatial EOFs were obtained. The leading principal components were subjected to singular spectrum analysis (SSA), in order to identify nonlinear IS oscillations with high statistical confidence.In the Southern Hemisphere, the dominant mode has a period of 23 days, with spatial patterns carried by the second and third winter EOF of the IS band. It has a zonal wavenumber-four structure. The 40-day mode is second, and dominated by wavenumbers three and four, while a 16-day mode is too weak to separate its spatial behavior from the previous two. The IS dynamics in the Southern Hemisphere is more complex and dominated by shorter wavenumbers than the Northern Hemisphere. No statistically significant correlations between the Southern Hemisphere and the tropics or the Northern Hemisphere are apparent in the IS band.
Ghil M, Mo K. Intraseasonal Oscillations in the Global Atmosphere. Part I: Northern Hemisphere and Tropics. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. 1991;48 (5) :752–779.Abstract
We have examined systematically oscillatory modes in the Northern Hemisphere and in the tropics. The 700 mb heights were used to analyze extratropical oscillations, and the outgoing longwave radiation to study tropical oscillations in convection. All datasets were band-pass filtered to focus on the intraseasonal (IS) band of 10-120 days. Leading spatial patterns of variability were obtained by applying EOF analysis to these IS data. The leading principal components (PCs) were subjected to singular spectrum analysis (SSA). SSA is a statistical technique related to EOF analysis, but in the time domain, rather than the spatial domain. It helps identify nonlinear oscillations in short and noisy time series.In the Northern Hemisphere, there are two important modes of oscillation with periods near 48 and 23 days, respectively. The 48-day mode is the most important of the two. It has both traveling and standing components, and is dominated by a zonal wavenumber two. The 23-day mode has the spatial structure and propagation properties described by Branstator and by Kushnir.In the tropics, the 40-50 day oscillation documented by Madden and Julian, Weickmann, Lau, their colleagues, and many other authors dominates the Indian and Pacific oceans from 60°E to the date line. From 170°W to 90°W, however, a 24-28 day oscillation is equally strong. The extratropical modes are often independent of, and sometimes lead, the tropical modes.
Ghil M, Vautard R. Interdecadal oscillations and the warming trend in global temperature time series. Nature. 1991;350 (6316) :324–327.Abstract

The ability to distinguish a warming trend from natural variability is critical for an understanding of the climatic response to increasing greenhouse-gas concentrations. Here we use singular spectrum analysis1 to analyse the time series of global surface air tem-peratures for the past 135 years2, allowing a secular warming trend and a small number of oscillatory modes to be separated from the noise. The trend is flat until 1910, with an increase of 0.4 °C since then. The oscillations exhibit interdecadal periods of 21 and 16 years, and interannual periods of 6 and 5 years. The interannual oscillations are probably related to global aspects of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon3. The interdecadal oscillations could be associated with changes in the extratropical ocean circulation4. The oscillatory components have combined (peak-to-peak) amplitudes of >0.2 °C, and therefore limit our ability to predict whether the inferred secular warming trend of 0.005 °Cyr-1 will continue. This could postpone incontrovertible detection of the greenhouse warming signal for one or two decades.