Arctic air masses in a warming world

Melissa Gervais, Eyad Atallah, John R. Gyakum, L. Bruno Tremblay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


An important aspect of understanding the impacts of climate change on society is determining how the distribution of weather regimes will change. Arctic amplification results in greater warming over the Arctic compared to the midlatitudes, and this study examines how patterns of Arctic air masses will be affected. The authors employ the Community Earth System Model Large Ensemble (CESM-LE) RCP 8.5, consisting of 30 ensemble members run through the twenty-first century. Self-organizing maps are used to define archetypes of 850-hPa equivalent potential temperature θe850 anomalies with respect to a changing climate and assess changes in their frequency of occurrence. In the model, a pattern with negative θe850 anomalies over the central Arctic becomes less frequent in the future. There is also an increase in the frequency of patterns associated with an amplified ridge (trough) with positive (negative) θe850 anomalies over western (eastern) North America. It is hypothesized that the increase in frequency of such patterns is the result of enhanced forcing of baroclinic waves owing to reduced sea ice over the western Arctic. There is also a decline in patterns that have anomalously high θe850 over the North Atlantic, a pattern that is associated with intense ridging in the 500-hPa flow over the North Atlantic and colder θe850 over Europe. The authors relate the decrease of these patterns to an enhancement of the North Atlantic jet induced by a warming deficit in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2359-2373
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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