The distribution of near-surface and tropospheric temperature variability in midlatitudes is distinguishable from a Gaussian in meteorological reanalysis data; consistent with this, warm extremes occur preferentially poleward of the location of cold extremes. To understand the factors that drive this non-Gaussianity, a dry general circulation model and a simple model of Lagrangian temperature advection are used to investigate the connections between dynamical processes and the occurrence of extreme temperature events near the surface. The non-Gaussianity evident in reanalysis data is evident in the dry model experiments, and the location of extremes is influenced by the location of the jet stream and storm track. The cause of this in the model can be traced back to the synoptic evolution within the storm track leading up to cold and warm extreme events: negative temperature extremes occur when an equatorward propagating high-low couplet (high to the west) strongly advects isotherms equatorward over a large meridional fetch over more than two days. Positive temperature anomalies occur when a poleward propagating low-high couplet (low to the west) advects isotherms poleward over a large meridional fetch over more than two days. The magnitude of the extremes is enhanced by the meridional movement of the systems. Overall, horizontal temperature advection by storm track systems can account for the warm/cold asymmetry in the latitudinal distribution of the temperature extremes.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Meteorological Society.
- Climate variability
- Cold air surges
- Extreme events
- Surface temperature
- Synoptic-scale processes