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Winter cold of eastern continental boundaries induced by warm ocean waters
Kaspi, Y.; Schneider, T. (2011). Winter cold of eastern continental boundaries induced by warm ocean waters. Nature (Lond.) 471(7340): 621-624.
In: Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science. Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 0028-0836, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Kaspi, Y.
  • Schneider, T.

    In winter, northeastern North America and northeastern Asia are both colder than other regions at similar latitudes. This has been attributed to the effects of stationary weather systems set by elevated terrain (orography), and to a lack of maritime influences from the prevailing westerly winds. However, the differences in extent and orography between the two continents suggest that further mechanisms are involved. Here we show that this anomalous winter cold can result in part from westward radiation of large-scale atmospheric waves - nearly stationary Rossby waves - generated by heating of the atmosphere over warm ocean waters. We demonstrate this mechanism using simulations with an idealized general circulation model, with which we show that the extent of the cold region is controlled by properties of Rossby waves, such as their group velocity and its dependence on the planetary rotation rate. Our results show that warm ocean waters contribute to the contrast in mid-latitude winter temperatures between eastern and western continental boundaries not only by warming western boundaries, but also by cooling eastern boundaries.

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