National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2001

Regional variability of the Arctic heat budget in fall and winter

Adams, J.M., N.A. Bond, and J.E. Overland

J. Climate, 13(19), 3500–3510, doi: 10.1175/1520-0442(2000)013<3500:RVOTAH>2 (2000)

In the Arctic atmosphere, the fall cooling cycle involves the evolution of the zonally symmetric circulation in late summer into the asymmetric flow of winter. This paper uses historical reanalysis data to document how the dominant components of the Arctic heat budget influence the summer–winter transition. The spatial variability of 20-yr climatologies of 700-mb temperature and geopotential height, the net surface flux, and the horizontal convergence of eddy sensible heat fluxes are examined for September through February. The development of the zonal asymmetries in the temperature and geopotential height fields in the Arctic is linked to the land–water–ice distribution that regulates the surface fluxes and the baroclinic zones in the hemispheric circulation, which lead to regional heating/cooling by the transient and standing eddies. These eddies serve to transport the heat energy gained via the surface fluxes over the North Atlantic and North Pacific to the continental and ice-covered regions of the central Arctic, where the net surface flux is small. The transient eddies are especially important in the Atlantic and Eurasian sectors of the Arctic, while the standing eddies play the larger role in the heat budget on the Pacific side of the Arctic in early to mid-winter. The Arctic oscillation (AO) has a small effect on the basinwide pattern of heating and cooling by the eddy circulations, but on smaller spatial scales there are isolated regions where the AO influences the Arctic heat budget.

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