National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2008

The Aleutian low, storm tracks, and winter climate variability in the Bering Sea

Rodionov, S.N., N.A. Bond, and J.E. Overland

Deep-Sea Res. II, 54(23–26), 2560–2577, doi: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2007.08.002 (2007)

Previous studies have found inconsistent results regarding how wintertime conditions in the Bering Sea relate to variations in the North Pacific climate system. This problem is addressed through analysis of data from the NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis for the period 1950–2003. Composite patterns of sea-level pressure, 500 hPa geopotential heights, storm tracks and surface air temperature are presented for four situations: periods of strong Aleutian Low, weak Aleutian Low, warm Bering Sea air temperatures, and cold Bering Sea air temperatures. Winter temperatures in the Bering Sea are only marginally related to the strength of the Aleutian Low, and are much more sensitive to the position of the Aleutian Low and to variations in storm tracks. In particular, relatively warm temperatures are associated with either an enhanced storm track off the coast of Siberia, and hence anomalous southerly low-level flow, or an enhanced storm track entering the eastern Bering Sea from the southeast. These latter storms do not systematically affect the mean meridional winds, but rather serve to transport mild air of maritime origin over the Bering Sea. The leading indices for the North Pacific, such as the NP and PNA, are more representative of the patterns of tropospheric circulation and storm track anomalies associated with the strength of the Aleutian Low than patterns associated with warm and cold wintertime conditions in the Bering Sea.

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