Greenland Blocking As a Mechanism for Recent Arctic/Mid-Latitude Weather Linkages
Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 9:00 AM
High-latitude blocking (HLB) located near and west of Greenland and in northeastern Siberia is a process that links Arctic processes to mid-latitude weather. HLB lies north of the jet stream and tends to bifurcate or divert the jet stream southward, rather than providing a complete block to the westerly flow. It is differentiated from mid-latitude blocking located in the central Atlantic to Europe and the western Pacific along eddy-driven jet streams. It is important to identify and understand an increase in recent HLB in early winter during the last five years relative to time series since 1948, even though this length is too short to robustly distinguish the influence of Arctic forcing from random events. In the last five early winters (December-January 2009-10 through 2013-14), two record and four other negative Arctic Oscillation atmospheric circulation index events have been observed, with positive Greenland Blocking Indices (GBI, greater 500 hPa geopotential heights) and increased geopotential thickness west of Greenland. Cold air penetrated into the southeastern United States in December 2009 and 2010 and January 2014 related to amplification in the long-wave upper-level atmospheric wind pattern. Northward air flow over Davis Strait acts as a positive feedback to maintain the Greenland air temperature anomalies. Extreme negative GBI were observed in December 2011-January 2012. Increased thickness associated with positive GBI can be a response to external (local sea ice loss, Greenland surface warming, or even equatorial teleconnections) or internal (advection and orientation of the long wave patterns) processes. A similar blocking feature is observed in Siberia/eastern Asia. A Bayesian approach to an Arctic/mid-latitude weather linkage emphasizes the nearly irresolvable uncertainty surrounding causation of recent major weather events; yet it drives scientific understanding of linkages and potential impacts on seasonal forecasting.