Persistent anomalies, blocking and variations in atmospheric predictability

Citation:

Legras, B., and Michael Ghil. 1985. “Persistent anomalies, blocking and variations in atmospheric predictability.” Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 42 (5): 433–471.

Abstract:

We consider regimes of low-frequency variability in large-scale atmospheric dynamics. The model used for the study of these regimes is the fully-nonlinear, equivalent-barotropic vorticity equation on the sphere, with simplified forcing, dissipation and topography. Twenty-five modes are retained in a spherical harmonics expansion of the streamfunction. Solutions are studied as a function of the nondimensional intensity of the forcing and dissipation.Multiple stationary solutions are obtained as a result of nonlinear interaction between waves, mean flow and orography. The number of modes retained in the analysis permits these multiple equilibria to appear for realistic values of the forcing. The equilibria exhibit blocked and zonal flow patterns bearing a marked resemblance to synoptically defined zonal and blocked Northern Hemisphere midlatitude flows.Wave-wave interactions influence strongly the stability properties of the equilibria and the time evolution of nonequilibrium solutions. Time-dependent solutions show persistent sequences which occur in the phase-space vicinity of the zonal and blocked equilibria. Composite flow patterns of the persistent sequences are similar to the equilibria nearby, which permits the unambiguous definition of quasi-stationary flow regimes, zonal and blocked, respectively. The number of episodes of blocked or zonal flow decreases monotonically as their duration increases, in agreement with observations.The statistics of transitions between the two types of planetary flow regimes are computed from the model's deterministic dynamics. These transitional called breaks in statistical-synoptic long-range forecasting, are shown to be influenced by changes in model parameters. This influence is discussed in terms of the effect of anomalous boundary conditions on large-scale midlatitude atmospheric flow and on its predictability.

Last updated on 08/09/2016