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Journal Article

Impact of Synoptic-Scale Wave Breaking on the NAO and Its Connection with the Stratosphere in ERA-40

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Kunz, T., Fraedrich, K., & Lunkeit, F. (2009). Impact of Synoptic-Scale Wave Breaking on the NAO and Its Connection with the Stratosphere in ERA-40. JOURNAL OF CLIMATE, 22(20), 5464-5480. doi:10.1175/2009JCLI2750.1.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0018-11FD-7
This observational study investigates the impact of North Atlantic synoptic-scale wave breaking on the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and its connection with the stratosphere in winter, as derived from the 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40). Anticyclonic (AB) and cyclonic wave breaking (CB) composites are compiled of the temporal and spatial components of the large-scale circulation using a method for the detection of AB and CB events from daily maps of potential vorticity on an isentropic surface. From this analysis a close link between wave breaking, the NAO, and the stratosphere is found: 1) a positive feedback between the occurrence of AB (CB) events and the positive (negative) phase of the NAO is suggested, whereas wave breaking in general without any reference to AB- or CB-like behavior does not affect the NAO, though it preferably emerges from its positive phase. 2) AB strengthens the North Atlantic eddy-driven jet and acts to separate it from the subtropical jet, while CB weakens the eddy-driven jet and tends to merge both jets. 3) AB (CB) events are associated with a stronger (weaker) lower-stratospheric polar vortex, characterized by the 50-hPa northern annular mode. During persistent weak vortex episodes, significantly more frequent CB than AB events are observed concurrently with a significant negative NAO response up to 55 days after the onset of the stratospheric perturbation. Finally, tropospheric wave breaking is related to nonannular stratospheric variability, suggesting an additional sensitivity of wave breaking and, thus, the NAO to specific distortions of the stratospheric polar vortex, rather than solely its strength.