Future wintertime meridional wind trends through the lens of subseasonal teleconnections

Dor Sandler, Nili Harnik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Large-scale atmospheric circulation is expected to change considerably in the upcoming decades, and with it the interaction between Rossby waves and the jet stream. A common feature of midlatitude wintertime variability is upper-tropospheric quasi-stationary number 5 wave packets, which often propagate zonally along the jet. These are collectively referred to as the circumglobal teleconnection pattern (CTP). Their likeness seemingly emerges as a robust signal in future meridional wind trend projections in the Northern Hemisphere, which take the form of a zonal wave encompassing the midlatitudes. We attempt to elucidate this link across timescales (daily, monthly, and climatological), focusing on wave propagation in the jet waveguide in reanalysis and a 36-member ensemble of CMIP5 models. Using empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis on 300€¯hPa subseasonal V anomalies, we first establish the ensemble's skill in capturing the pattern. Then, by investigating EOF phase space, we characterize the CTP's behavior in present-day climatology and how it is projected to change. Under RCP8.5 forcing, most models develop a gradual preference for monthly-mean waves with certain longitudinal phases. The ensemble is thus divided into subgroups based on region of increased wave activity. For each model, this region corresponds to a more pronounced local trend, which helps explain the ensemble projection spread. Additionally, in two test-case models, this coincides with an increasing number of preferably phased wave packets at the synoptic scale. Some signs suggest that differences in CTP dynamics might stem from mean flow interaction, while no evidence was found for the role of tropical diabatic forcing. Thus, we conclude that this climate change response, seemingly a single large-scale wave, is actually comprised of several regional effects which are related to shifts in CTP phase distributions. The strong dynamical disagreement in the ensemble then manifests as significantly different circulation trends, which in turn might affect projected local temperature and precipitation patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-443
Number of pages17
JournalWeather and Climate Dynamics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 24 Aug 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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