Baroclinic and Barotropic Annular Variability in the Northern Hemisphere

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Large-scale variability in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) circulation can be viewed in the context of three primary types of structures: 1) teleconnection patterns, 2) a barotropic annular mode, and 3) a baroclinic annular mode. The barotropic annular mode corresponds to the northern annular mode (NAM) and has been examined extensively in previous research. Here the authors examine the spatial structure and time-dependent behavior of the NH baroclinic annular mode (NBAM).

The NAM and NBAM have very different signatures in large-scale NH climate variability. The NAM emerges as the leading principal component (PC) time series of the zonal-mean kinetic energy. It dominates the variance in the wave fluxes of momentum, projects weakly onto the eddy kinetic energy and wave fluxes of heat, and can be modeled as Gaussian red noise with a time scale of ~10 days. In contrast, the NBAM emerges as the leading PC time series of the eddy kinetic energy. It is most clearly identified when the planetary-scale waves are filtered from the data, dominates the variance in the synoptic-scale eddy kinetic energy and wave fluxes of heat, and has a relatively weak signature in the zonal-mean kinetic energy and the wave fluxes of momentum. The NBAM is marked by weak but significant enhanced spectral power on time scales of ~20–25 days.

The NBAM is remarkably similar to its Southern Hemisphere counterpart despite the pronounced interhemispheric differences in orography and land–sea contrasts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1117–1136
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015

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