Climatology of barrier jets along the Alaskan Coast. Part II: Large-scale and sounding composites

Brian A. Colle, Kenneth A. Loescher, George S. Young, Nathaniel S. Winstead

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19 Scopus citations


This paper investigates the large-scale flow and thermodynamic structures associated with barrier jets along the Alaskan coast using the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalysis, as well as the average wind, moisture, and thermodynamic soundings at Yakutat, Alaska (YAK), and Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada (YXY). Large-scale and sounding composites are constructed for all barrier jets objectively identified around YAK using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery during the cool and warm seasons of 1998-2003. During the cool season the jet events are separated into those with sharp upstream wind gradients (shock jets), highly variable ("gustlike") surface winds (variable jets), and the other jet events (other jets). Those cool season barrier jets without shock or variable characteristics are associated with an anomalously deep upper-level trough approaching the Gulf of Alaska and an anomalous ridge over western Canada and interior Alaska. The associated surface cyclone and surface ridging result in strong low-level southerlies over southeast Alaska and the advection of 850-mb warm anomalies northward from the subtropics to Alaska. In contrast, the shock events have significant cold anomalies at 850 mb over the interior, while both the shock and variable jets have less upper-level ridging over the interior. The warm season other-jet composite is similar to that for the cool season, except that an 850-mb cool anomaly develops near the coast and the approaching upper-level trough is not significantly deeper than climatology. The sounding composite at YAK of the other-jet type during the cool season is more stable, moist, and slightly cooler at lower levels than the nonjet events. The largest low-level cool, dry, and high stability anomalies are for the shock events at YAK and YXY, which suggests that this cold and dry air source over the interior is an important ingredient for the development of sharp frontlike boundaries to the barrier jet. In contrast, the variable jets have weaker low-level stability, which favors the subsequent mixing of higher momentum to the surface in localized areas. The warm season jets also have cooler lower levels than those for the nonjet events, but the lower levels are nearly well mixed with little stratification, especially over the interior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)454-477
Number of pages24
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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