Regime transition of the North Atlantic Oscillation and the extreme cold event over Europe in January-February 2012

Dehai Luo, Yao Yao, Steven B. Feldstein

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In this paper, large-scale aspects for the onset of the extreme cold European weather event in January- February 2012 are investigated. It is shown that the outbreak of this extreme cold weather event may be attributed to the transition from a positive North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO+) event to a long-lasting blocking event over the eastern Atlantic and western Europe (hereafter ENAO-). Apersistent decline of the surface air temperature (SAT) is seen over all of Europe during the long-lived ENAO2 event, while the main region of enhanced precipitation is located over southern Europe and part of central Europe, in association with the presence of a persistent double storm track: one over the Norwegian and Barents Seas and the other over southern Europe. The NAO+ to NAO- transition events are divided into NAO+ to ENAO- and NAO+ to WNAO- transition events [ENAO+ (WNAO-) events correspond to eastward- (westward-) displaced NAO+ events whose positive center is defined to be located to the east (west) of 10°W], and a statistical analysis of the NAO+ to ENAO- transition events during 1978-2012 is performed. It is found that there has been a marked increase in the frequency of the NAO+ to ENAO- transition events during the period 2005-12. Composites of SAT anomalies indicate that the marked decline of the SAT observed over much of Europe is primarily associated withNAO+ to ENAO- transition events. Thus, NAO+ to ENAO- transition events may be more favorable for the extreme cold events over Europe observed in recent winters than other types of NAO2 events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4735-4757
Number of pages23
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

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