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Climate Dynamics

, Volume 45, Issue 5–6, pp 1137–1155 | Cite as

Subseasonal variability of North American wintertime surface air temperature

Article

Abstract

Using observational pentad data of the recent 34 Northern Hemisphere extended winters, subseasonal variability of surface air temperature (SAT) over North America is analyzed. The four leading modes of subseasonal SAT variability, that are identified with an empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis, account for about 60% of the total variance. The first (EOF1) and second (EOF2) modes are independent of other modes, and thus are likely controlled by distinct processes. The third (EOF3) and fourth (EOF4) modes, however, tend to have a phase shift to each other in space and time, indicating that part of their variability is related to a common process and represent a propagating pattern over North America. Lagged regression analysis is conducted to identify the precursors of large-scale atmospheric circulation for each mode a few pentads in advance, and to understand the processes that influence the subseasonal SAT variability and the predictability signal sources. EOF1 is found to be closely related to the Pacific-North American (PNA) circulation pattern and at least part of its variability is preceded by the East Asian cold surge. The cold surge leads to low-level convergence and enhanced convection in the tropical central Pacific which in turn induces the PNA. EOF2 tends to oscillate at a period of about 70 days, and is influenced by the low-frequency component of the Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO). On the other hand, EOF3 and EOF4 are connected to the high-frequency part of the MJO which has a period range of 30–50 days. These findings would help understanding the mechanisms of subseasonal surface air temperature variability in North America and improving weather predictions on a subseasonal time scale.

Keywords

Subseasonal variability Temperature MJO Teleconnection 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Dr. Jacques Derome for helpful comments on an early version of the manuscript. I thank two anonymous reviewers whose comments and suggestions helped to improve the paper.

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Copyright information

© Her Majesty the queen in Right of Canada 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Atmospheric Numerical Weather Prediction Research (RPN-A), Environment CanadaDorvalCanada

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