Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 62, Issue 5, pp 872–890 | Cite as

Causes and underlying dynamic processes of the mid-winter suppression in the North Pacific storm track

  • Yuanbing Zhao
  • X. San LiangEmail author
Research Paper


Baroclinic wave activity in the North Pacific exhibit peaks in late fall and early spring, and a local minimum in midwinter, when by linear baroclinic instability theory it should attain its maximum. This counterintuitive phenomenon, or “midwinter suppression” (MWM) as called, is investigated with a functional analysis apparatus, multiscale window transform (MWT), and the MWT-based theory of canonical transfer and localized multi-scale energetics analysis, together with a feature tracking technique, using the data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts ReAnalysis (ERA-40). It is found that the MWM results from a variety of different physical processes, including baroclinic canonical transfer, diabatic effect, energy flux divergence, and frictional dissipation. On one hand, baroclinic canonical transfer and diabatic effect achieve their respective maxima in late fall. More transient available potential energy is produced and then converted to transient kinetic energy, resulting in a stronger storm track in late fall than in midwinter. On the other hand, in early spring, although baroclinic instability and buoyancy conversion are weak, energy flux convergences are substantially strengthened, leading to a net energy inflow into the storm track. Meanwhile, frictional dissipation is greatly reduced in spring; as a result, less transient energy is dissipated in early spring than in midwinter. It is further found that the weakening of baroclinic canonical transfer in midwinter (compared to late fall) is due to the far distance between the storm and the jet stream (located at its southernmost point), which suppresses the interaction between them. Regarding the increase in energy flux convergence in early spring, it appears to originate from the increase (enhancement) in the number (strength) of storms from the upstream into the Pacific.


Storm track Midwinter suppression Multiscale window transform Multiscale energetics Canonical transfer Energy flux convergence 


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Yuanbing ZHAO thanks Brandon J. Bethel for his help. This work was supported by the National Program on Global Change and Air-Sea Interaction (Grants No. GASI-IPOVAI-06), the Jiangsu Provincial Government through the 2015 Jiangsu Program for Innovation Research and Entrepreneurship Groups and the Jiangsu Chair Professorship to XSL, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grants Nos. 41276032 and 41705024).


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Atmospheric SciencesNanjing University of Information Science and TechnologyNanjingChina
  2. 2.School of Marine SciencesNanjing University of Information Science and TechnologyNanjingChina

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