Climate Dynamics

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

Subseasonal variability of North American wintertime surface air temperature



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.


Subseasonal variability Temperature MJO Teleconnection 



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.


  1. Barnston AG, Livezey RE (1987) Classification, seasonality and persistence of low-frequency atmospheric circulation patterns. Mon Weather Rev 82:1083–1126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bretherton C, Widmann M, Dymnikov VP, Wallace JM, Blade I (1999) The effective number of spatial degrees of freedom of a time-varying field. J Clim 12:1990–2009CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chang CP, Erickson J, Lau KM (1979) Northeasterly cold surges and near-equatorial disturbances over the winter-MONEX area during 1974. Part I: synoptic aspects. Mon Weather Rev 107:812–829CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Derome J, Brunet G, Plante A, Gagnon N, Boer G, Zwiers F, Lambert S, Sheng J, Ritchie H (2001) Seasonal predictions based on two dynamical models. Atmos Ocean 39:485–501CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ding YH, Krishnamurti TN (1987) Heat budget of the Siberian high and the winter monsoon. Mon Weather Rev 115:2428–2449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Horel JD, Wallace JM (1981) Planetary scale atmospheric phenomena associated with the Southern Oscillation. Mon Weather Rev 109:813–829CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hoskins BJ, Karoly DJ (1981) The steady linear response of a spherical atmosphere to thermal and orographic forcing. J Atmos Sci 38:1179–1196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hurrell JW, Kushnir Y, Visbeck M, Ottersen G (2003) An overview of the North Atlantic oscillation. North Atlantic Oscillation Clim Signif Environ Impact Am Geophys Union Geophys Monogr Ser 134:1–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Izumo T, Masson S, Vialard J, de Boyer Montegut C, Behera SK, Madec G, Takahashi K, Yamagata T (2010) Low and high frequency Maddenlian oscillations in austral summer: interannual variations. Clim Dyn 35:6693CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Jin F, Hoskins BJ (1995) The direct response to tropical heating in a baroclinic atmosphere. J Atmos Sci 52:307–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Johansson Å (2007) Prediction skill of the NAO and PNA from daily to seasonal time scales. J Clim 20:1957–1975CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Johnson NC, Collins DC, Feldstein SB, L’Heureux ML, Riddle EE (2014) Skillful wintertime North American temperature forecasts out to four weeks based on the state of ENSO and the MJO. Weather Forecast 29:23–38Google Scholar
  13. Jhun JG, Lee EJ (2004) A new East Asian winter monsoon index and associated characteristics of the winter monsoon. J Clim 17:711–726CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kalnay E et al (1996) The NCEP/NCAR 40-year reanalysis project. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 77:437–471CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kim BM, Lim GH, Kim KY (2006) A new look at the midlatitudeO teleconnection in the northern hemisphere winter. Q J R Meteorol Soc 132:485–503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lau KM (1982) Equatorial responses to northeasterly cold surges as inferred from cloud satellite imagery. Mon Weather Rev 110:1306–1313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lau KM, Chang CP, Chan PH (1983) Short-term planetary interactions over the tropics and midlatitudes. Part II: winter-MONEX period. Mon Weather Rev 111:1372–1388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lau KM, Li MT (1984) The monsoon of East Asia and its global associations—a survey. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 65:114–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Li Y, Yang S (2010) A dynamical index for the East Asian winter monsoon. J Clim 23:4255–4262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Liebmann B, Smith CA (1996) Description of a complete (interpolated) outgoing longwave radiation dataset. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 77:1275–1277Google Scholar
  21. Lin H, Brunet G (2009) The influence of the Madden–Julian oscillation on Canadian wintertime surface air temperature. Mon Weather Rev 137:2250–2262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lin H, Brunet G, Derome J (2009) An observed connection between the North Atlantic oscillation and the Madden–Julian oscillation. J Clim 22:364–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lin H, Brunet G, Mo R (2010) Impact of the Madden–Julian oscillation on wintertime precipitation in Canada. Mon Weather Rev 138:3822–3839CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Madden RA, Julian PR (1971) Description of a 40–50 day oscillation in the zonal wind in the tropical Pacific. J Atmos Sci 28:702–708CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Madden RA, Julian PR (1994) Observations of the 40-day tropical oscillation: a review. Mon Weather Rev 122:8147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Matthews AJ, Hoskins BJ, Masutani M (2004) The global response to tropical heating in the Madden–Julian oscillation during Northern winter. Q J R Meteorol Soc 130:1991–2011CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mori M, Watanabe M (2008) The growth and triggering mechanisms of the PNA: A MJO–PNA coherence. J Meteorol Soc Jpn 86:213–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. North GR, Bell TL, Cahalan RF, Moeng FJ (1982) Sampling errors in the estimation of empirical orthogonal functions. Mon Weather Rev 110:6996Google Scholar
  29. Riddle EE, Butler AH, Furtado JC, Cohen JL, Kumar A (2013) CFSv2 ensemble prediction of the wintertime Arctic oscillation. Clim Dyn 41:109916. doi: 10.1007/s00382-013-1850-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rodney M, Lin H, Derome J (2013) Subseasonal prediction of wintertime North American surface air temperature during strong MJO events. Mon Weather Rev 141:2897–2909CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Scaife AA et al (2014) Skilful long range prediction of European and North American winters. Geophys Res Lett 41:251419. doi: 10.1002/2014GL059637 Google Scholar
  32. Shukla JS, Anderson J, Baumhefner D, Brankovic C et al (2000) Dynamical seasonal prediction. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 81:2593–2606CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Thompson DW, Wallace JM (1998) The Arctic oscillation signature in the wintertime geopotential height and temperature fields. Geophys Res Lett 25:1297–1300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wallace JM, Guztler DS (1981) Teleconnections in the geopotential height field during the Northern Hemisphere winter. Mon Weather Rev 109:784–812CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wheeler M, Hendon HH (2004) An all-season real-time multivariate MJO index: development of an index for monitoring and prediction. Mon Weather Rev 132:1917–1932CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Xie P, Arkin PA (1997) Global precipitation: a 17-year monthly analysis based on gauge observations, satellite estimates, and numerical model outputs. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 78:2539–2558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Yao W, Lin H, Derome J (2011) Submonthly forecasting of winter surface air temperature in North America based on organized tropical convection. Atmosphereean 49:51Google Scholar
  38. Zhang C, Dong M (2004) Seasonality in the Madden–Julian oscillation. J Clim 17:3169–3180CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations