The continuum of North Pacific sea level pressure patterns: Intraseasonal, interannual, and interdecadal variability

Nathaniel C. Johnson, Steven B. Feldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study combines k-means cluster analysis with linear unidimensional scaling to illustrate the spatial and temporal variability of the wintertime North Pacific sea level pressure (SLP) field. Daily wintertime SLP data derived from the NCEP-NCAR reanalysis are used to produce 16 SLP anomaly patterns that represent a discretized approximation of the continuumof North Pacific SLP patterns. This study adopts the continuum perspective for teleconnection patterns, which provides a much simpler framework for understanding North Pacific variability than the more commonly used discrete modal approach. The primary focus of this research is to show that variability in the North Pacific-on intraseasonal, interannual, and interdecadal time scales-can be understood in terms of changes in the frequency distribution of the cluster patterns that compose the continuum, each of which has a time scale of about 10 days. This analysis reveals 5-6 Pacific-North American-like (PNA-like) patterns for each phase, as well as dipoles and wave trains. A self-organizing map (SOM) analysis of coupled SLP and outgoing longwave radiation data shows that many of these patterns are associated with convection in the tropical Indo-Pacific region. On intraseasonal time scales, the frequency distribution of these patterns, in particular the PNA-like patterns, is strongly influenced by the Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO). On interannual time scales, the El Niño- Southern Oscillation (ENSO) impacts the North Pacific continuum, with warm ENSO episodes resulting in the increased frequency of easterly displaced Aleutian low pressure anomaly patterns and cold ENSO episodes resulting in the increased frequency of southerly displaced Aleutian high pressure anomaly patterns. In addition, the results of this analysis suggest that the interdecadal variability of the North Pacific SLP field, including the well-known "regime shift" of 1976/77, also results from changes in the frequency distribution within the continuum of SLP patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)851-867
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Climate
Volume23
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

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