Multiple Regimes and Low-Frequency Oscillations in the Northern Hemisphere’s Zonal-Mean Flow

S. Kravtsov; Andrew W. Robertson; Michael Ghil

Multiple Regimes and Low-Frequency Oscillations in the Northern Hemisphere’s Zonal-Mean Flow
Kravtsov, S.
Robertson, Andrew W.
Ghil, Michael
International Research Institute for Climate and Society
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Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences
This paper studies multiple regimes and low-frequency oscillations in the Northern Hemisphere zonal-mean zonal flow in winter, using 55 yr of daily observational data. The probability density function estimated in the phase space spanned by the two leading empirical orthogonal functions exhibits two distinct, statistically significant maxima. The two regimes associated with these maxima describe persistent zonal-flow states that are characterized by meridional displacements of the midlatitude jet, poleward and equatorward of its time-mean position. The geopotential height anomalies of either regime have a pronounced zonally symmetric component, but largest-amplitude anomalies are located over the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. High-frequency synoptic transients participate in the maintenance of and transitions between these regimes. Significant oscillatory components with periods of 147 and 72 days are identified by spectral analysis of the zonal-flow time series. These oscillations are described by singular spectrum analysis and the multitaper method. The 147-day oscillation involves zonal-flow anomalies that propagate poleward, while the 72-day oscillation only manifests northward propagation in the Atlantic sector. Both modes mainly describe changes in the midlatitude jet position and intensity. In the horizontal plane though, the two modes exhibit synchronous centers of action located over the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The two persistent flow regimes are associated with slow phases of either oscillation.
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