Annular versus non-annular variability of the Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation

Castanheira J. M., Liberato M. L. R., de la Torre, L., Graf H.-F., Rocha A.
J. Climate 21, No. 13, 3180-3190 doi: 10.1175/2007JCLI1960.1

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The annular variability of the northern winter extratropical circulation is reassessed based on reanalysis data that are dynamically filtered by normal modes. One-half of the variability of the monthly averaged barotropic zonally symmetric circulation of the Northern Hemisphere is statistically distinct from the remaining variability and is represented by its leading empirical orthogonal function (EOF) alone. The daily time series of the circulation anomalies projected onto the leading EOF is highly correlated ( r 0.7) with the lower-stratospheric northern annular mode (NAM) indices showing that annular variability extends from the stratosphere deep into the troposphere. However, the geopotential and wind anomalies associated with the leading principal component (PC1) of the barotropic zonally symmetric circulation are displaced northward relative to the zonal mean anomalies associated with the PC1 of the geopotential height vari- ability at single-isobaric tropospheric levels. The regression pattern of the 500-hPa geopotential height ( Z 500) onto the lower-stratospheric NAM also shows zonally symmetric components displaced northward with respect to those of the leading EOF of the Z 500 field. A principal component analysis (PCA) of the residual variability of the Z 500 field remaining after the substraction of the Z 500 regressed onto the lower-stratospheric NAM index also reveals a pattern with a zonally symmetric component at midlatitudes. However, this zonally symmetric component appears as the second EOF of the residual variability and is the imprint of two independent dipoles over the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Results show that a zonally symmetric component of the middle- and lower-tropospheric circulation variability exists at high latitudes. At the middle latitudes, the zonally symmetric component, if any exists, is artificially overemphasized by the PCA on single-isobaric tropospheric levels.