A Climatology of Northern Hemisphere Blocking
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In this paper a 55-yr (1948-2002) Northern Hemisphere blocking climatology is presented. Traditional blocking indices and methodologies are revised and a new blocking detection method is designed. This algorithm detects blocked flows and provides for a better characterization of blocking events with additional information on blocking parameters such as the location of the blocking center, the intensity, and extension. Additionally, a new tracking procedure has been incorporated following simultaneously the individual evolution of blocked flows and identifying coherently persistent blocked patterns. Using this method, the longest known Northern Hemisphere blocking climatology is obtained and compared with previous studies. A new regional classification into four independent blocking sectors has been obtained based on the seasonally preferred regions of blocking formation: Atlantic (ATL), European (EUR), West Pacific (WPA), and East Pacific (EPA). Global and regional blocking characteristics have been described, examining their variability from the seasonal to interdecadal scales. The global long-term blocking series in the North Hemisphere showed a significant trend toward weaker and less persistent events, as well as regional increases (decreases) in blocking frequency over the WPA (ATL and EUR) sector. The influence of teleconnection patterns (TCPs) on blocking parameters is also explored, being confined essentially to wintertime, except in the WPA sector. Additionally, regional blocking parameters, especially frequency and duration, are sensitive to regional TCPs, supporting the regional classification obtained in this paper. The ENSO-related blocking variability is evident in blocking intensitie and preferred locations but not in frequency. Finally, the dynamical connection between blocking occurrence and regional TCPs is examined through the conceptual model proposed by Charney and DeVore. Observational evidence of a dynamical link between the asymmetrical temperature distributions induced by TCPs and blocking variability is provided with a distinctive contrast “warm ocean/cold land” pattern favoring the blocking occurrence in winter. However, the conceptual model is not coherent in the WPA sector, suggesting different blocking mechanisms operating in this sector.
Journal of Climate, Volume 19, Issue 6 (March 2006), pp. 1042-1063