North American cold events following sudden stratospheric warming in the presence of low Barents-Kara Sea sea ice

Pengfei Zhang, Yutian Wu, Gang Chen, Yueyue Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While the relationship between the Arctic sea ice loss and midlatitude winter climate has been well discussed, especially on the seasonal mean scale, it remains unclear whether the Arctic sea ice condition affects the predictability of North American cold weather on the subseasonal time scale. Here we find that, in the presence of low Barents-Kara Sea (BKS) sea ice, sudden stratospheric warmings (SSWs) can favor surface cold spells over North America at the subseasonal timescale based on observations and model experiments. A persistent ridge of wave-2 pattern emerges over the Bering Sea-Gulf of Alaska several weeks after the SSW onset, with a coherent structure from the stratosphere to the surface, which, in turn, is conducive to synoptic cold air outbreaks in Canada and midwestern USA. This highlights a planetary wave pathway relating to BKS sea ice changes, by which the stratospheric polar vortex impacts the regional surface temperature on the subseasonal scale. In contrast, this mechanism does not occur with positive BKS sea ice anomaly. These findings help to improve the subseasonal predictability over North America, especially under the background of rapid change of Arctic sea ice in a warming world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number124017
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume15
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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