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Key Role of the North Pacific Oscillation-West Pacific Pattern in Generating the Extreme 2013/14 North American Winter
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  • Source:
    Journal of Climate, 28(20), 8109-8117.
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  • Description:
    The 2013/14 boreal winter (December 2013-February 2014) brought extended periods of anomalously cold weather to central and eastern North America. The authors show that a leading pattern of extratropical variability, whose sea level pressure footprint is the North Pacific Oscillation (NPO) and circulation footprint the West Pacific (WP) teleconnectiontogether, the NPO-WPexhibited extreme and persistent amplitude in this winter. Reconstruction of the 850-hPa temperature, 200-hPa geopotential height, and precipitation reveals that the NPO-WP was the leading contributor to the winter climate anomaly over large swaths of North America. This analysis, furthermore, indicates that NPO-WP variability explains the most variance of monthly winter temperature over central-eastern North America since, at least, 1979. Analysis of the NPO-WP related thermal advection provides physical insight on the generation of the cold temperature anomalies over North America. Although NPO-WP's origin and development remain to be elucidated, its concurrent links to tropical SSTs are tenuous. These findings suggest that notable winter climate anomalies in the Pacific-North American sector need not originate, directly, from the tropics. More broadly, the attribution of the severe 2013/14 winter to the flexing of an extratropical variability pattern is cautionary given the propensity to implicate the tropics, following several decades of focus on El Nino-Southern Oscillation and its regional and far-field impacts.
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