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The Role of Warm North Atlantic SST in the Formation of Positive Height Anomalies over the Ural Mountains during January 2008


doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-0069-1

  • The most severe snowstorm and freezing-rain event in the past 50 years hit central and southern China in January 2008. One of the main reasons for the anomalous climate event was the occurrence of atmospheric circulation anomalies over middle and high latitudes, particularly the persistent blocking that occurred over the Ural Mountains. Along with atmospheric anomalies, a strong La Nina event in the Pacific and warm sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTAs) in the North Atlantic were the most significant in the lower boundary. Since a brief analysis suggests that La Nina exerts no significant impact on the Urals, the key point of focus in this study is on the role of the warmer SSTAs in the North Atlantic. Based on an observational composite, North Atlantic SSTAs pattern when the height anomaly over the Urals is strongly positive is found similar to that in January 2008, but no significant SSTAs occurred elsewhere, such as the Pacific. Using an atmospheric general circulation model, ECHAM5, the impact of North Atlantic SSTAs on the extratropical atmosphere circulation in the event was investigated. The results show that the warm SSTAs strengthened the blocking high over the Urals, through anomalous transient eddies. The consistency between the study model and the observational composite indicates that the warm SSTAs in the North Atlantic were indeed an important factor in the formation of the snowstorm disaster of January 2008.
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Manuscript History

Manuscript received: 10 March 2011
Manuscript revised: 10 March 2011
通讯作者: 陈斌, bchen63@163.com
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    沈阳化工大学材料科学与工程学院 沈阳 110142

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The Role of Warm North Atlantic SST in the Formation of Positive Height Anomalies over the Ural Mountains during January 2008

  • 1. State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029,Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049,Nansen-Zhu International Research Centre and Key Laboratory of Regional Climate-Environment Research for Temperate East Asia, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029,State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, Key Laboratory of Ocean Circulation and Wave, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao 266071

Abstract: The most severe snowstorm and freezing-rain event in the past 50 years hit central and southern China in January 2008. One of the main reasons for the anomalous climate event was the occurrence of atmospheric circulation anomalies over middle and high latitudes, particularly the persistent blocking that occurred over the Ural Mountains. Along with atmospheric anomalies, a strong La Nina event in the Pacific and warm sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTAs) in the North Atlantic were the most significant in the lower boundary. Since a brief analysis suggests that La Nina exerts no significant impact on the Urals, the key point of focus in this study is on the role of the warmer SSTAs in the North Atlantic. Based on an observational composite, North Atlantic SSTAs pattern when the height anomaly over the Urals is strongly positive is found similar to that in January 2008, but no significant SSTAs occurred elsewhere, such as the Pacific. Using an atmospheric general circulation model, ECHAM5, the impact of North Atlantic SSTAs on the extratropical atmosphere circulation in the event was investigated. The results show that the warm SSTAs strengthened the blocking high over the Urals, through anomalous transient eddies. The consistency between the study model and the observational composite indicates that the warm SSTAs in the North Atlantic were indeed an important factor in the formation of the snowstorm disaster of January 2008.

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