Linkage of atmospheric blocks and synoptic-scale Rossby waves: a climatological analysis

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Altenhoff, Adrian M. ; Martius, Olivia ; Croci-Maspoli, Mischa ; Schwierz, Cornelia ; Davies, Huw C. (2008)

The link between atmospheric blocking and propagating and breaking synoptic-scale Rossby waves (termed PV streamers) are explored for the climatological period 1958–2002, using the ERA-40 re-analysis data. To this end, potential vorticity (PV) based climatologies of blocking and breaking waves are used, and features of the propagating waves is extracted from Hovmöller diagrams. The analyses cover the Northern Hemisphere during winter, and they are carried out for the Atlantic and Pacific basins separately. The results show statistically significant wave precursor signals, up to 5 d prior to the blocking onset. In the Atlantic, the precursor signal takes the form of a coherent wave train, emanating approximately 110° upstream of the blocking location. In the Pacific, a single long-lived (10 d) northerly velocity signal preludes the blocking onset. A spatial analysis is conducted of the location, frequency and form of breaking synoptic-scale Rossby waves, prior to the onset, during the lifetime and after the blocking decay. It reveals that cyclonic streamers are present to the southwest and anticyclonic streamers to the south and southeast, approximately 43% (36%) of the time in the Atlantic (Pacific) basin, and this is significantly above a climatological distribution.
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