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Synoptic scale wave breaking and its potential to drive NAO-like circulation dipoles: A simplified GCM approach

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Kunz, T., Fraedrich, K., & Lunkeit, F. (2009). Synoptic scale wave breaking and its potential to drive NAO-like circulation dipoles: A simplified GCM approach. QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETY, 135(638), 1-19. doi:10.1002/qj.351.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0018-12C8-6
Recent studies suggest a synoptic view of the North Atlantic oscillation (NAO) with its positive (negative) phase being the remnant of anticyclonic (cyclonic) synoptic scale wave breaking. This study examines the potential of anticyclonic (AB) and cyclonic wave breaking (CB) to drive NAO-like meridional circulation dipoles by investigating the synoptic evolution of AB and CB events in a mid-latitude eddy-driven jet in a simplified GCM with zonally uniform basic state. First, a method for the detection of such events from daily isentropic maps of potential vorticity and horizontal deformation is constructed. Then, from the obtained sample of events AB- and CB-composites of the upper and lower tropospheric flow are computed, and a distinct spatial and temporal asymmetry in the response to AB and CB events is found. While from the interaction of two AB events (with a mean lifetime of 2.6 days) a strong and short-lived positive phase NAO-like dipole is produced at the surface but not at upper levels, single CB events (4.3 days) are found to drive a strong and more persistent negative phase NAO-like dipole at upper levels but not at the surface. It is concluded that AB (CB) is not capable of driving a positive (negative) phase NAO-like dipole individually. However, the results suggest that equivalent barotropic NAO-like variability may arise from the successive occurrence of AB and CB events. Further, a sensitivity to the strength of the stratospheric polar vortex is found with more (less) frequent AB (CB) events under strong vortex conditions. Copyright (C) 2009 Royal Meteorological Society