An investigation of the presence of atmospheric rivers over the North Pacific during planetary-scale wave life cycles and their role in Arctic warming

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Abstract

Heretofore, the tropically excited Arctic warming (TEAM) mechanism put forward that localized tropical convection amplifies planetary-scale waves, which transport sensible and latent heat into the Arctic, leading to an enhancement of downward infrared radiation and Arctic surface warming. In this study, an investigation is made into the previously unexplored contribution of the synoptic-scale waves and their attendant atmospheric rivers to the TEAM mechanism. Reanalysis data are used to conduct a suite of observational analyses, trajectory calculations, and idealized model simulations. It is shown that localized tropical convection over the Maritime Continent precedes the peak of the planetary-scale wave life cycle by ~10-14 days. The Rossby wave source induced by the tropical convection excites a Rossby wave train over the North Pacific that amplifies the climatological December-March stationary waves. These amplified planetary-scale waves are baroclinic and transport sensible and latent heat poleward. During the planetary-scale wave life cycle, synoptic-scale waves are diverted northward over the central North Pacific. The warm conveyor belts associated with the synoptic-scale waves channel moisture from the subtropics into atmospheric rivers that ascend as they move poleward and penetrate into the Arctic near the Bering Strait. At this time, the synoptic-scale waves undergo cyclonic Rossby wave breaking, which further amplifies the planetary-scale waves. The planetary-scale wave life cycle ceases as ridging over Alaska retrogrades westward. The ridging blocks additional moisture transport into the Arctic. However, sensible and latent heat amounts remain elevated over the Arctic, which enhances downward infrared radiation and maintains warm surface temperatures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4329-4347
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Volume73
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

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