# Barriers in the Atmosphere: Arctic Oscillation (3)

By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 12:50 AM GMT on October 03, 2013

Barriers in the Atmosphere: Arctic Oscillation (3)

I want to continue with the Arctic Oscillation / North Atlantic Oscillation. First, however, here is the link to my August presentation. Also here is a link to the GLISAclimate.org project workspace where I collected together the materials I used in the presentation - Arctic Oscillation: Climate variability in the Great Lakes.

Here are the previous entries in the series:
Behavior
Definitions and Some Background

This blog is mostly a setup for the next one. (And yes I did notice that the IPCC AR-5 report was released, but I don’t have anything different to say about it than many of my more able colleagues. I’ll get to it.)

In the talk that I linked to above, I used a couple of diagrams that the audience told me worked very well. I am going to try them out in this blog. In the previous blogs I used the CPC Climate Glossary to give the definition of the Arctic Oscillation. “The Arctic Oscillation is a pattern in which atmospheric pressure at polar and middle latitudes fluctuates between negative and positive phases.” This definition does not really do much for me. It’s one of those definitions that I imagine if I ask 10 atmospheric scientists to tell me what it means, I will get 12 answers. Therefore, I will draw a picture.

Figure 1: Adapted from Jim Hurrell – This picture is a schematic representation of the positive and negative phases of the Arctic Oscillation. In the positive phase the pressure is low at the pole and high at middle latitudes. This is the positive phase because if you calculate the difference between middle and high latitudes it is large. In the negative phase the pressure is not as low at the pole and not as high at middle latitudes. This is the negative phase because if you calculate the difference between middle and high latitudes it is small. The refrigerator suggests that this is like opening and closing the refrigerator door (see Behavior).

This figure helps me with the definition. I want to focus on the low pressure at high latitudes, which in this figure is drawn idealistically at the pole. In reality, it is likely to wander off the pole, a fact that will be important in the next blog. When the pressure is low at the pole, then there is a stronger vortex of air circulating around the pole. When the pressure at the pole is not as low, then there is a weaker vortex. In both cases, strong or weak vortex, the air generally moves from west to east.

For clarity, vorticity is a parameter that describes rotation in a fluid. A vortex is a feature in a fluid dominated by vorticity – that is it is rotationally dominated. Tornadoes and hurricanes are weather features that we often call vortices; there is an obvious circulation of air in these features. In the Earth’s atmosphere at middle and high latitudes rotation is an important characteristic of the flow, due to the rotation of the Earth. The reason air moves in the west to east direction for both the weak and strong vortex cases of Figure 1 is that the rotation of the Earth is important to the flow.

In Figure 2 I have set up an even more idealized figure. I also provide this link to a Powerpoint animation, that I am not smart enough to incorporate into the blog. In the animation I have five slides that clarify the point that I make in Figure 2.

Figure 2: A vortex and a ball. In the center of the figure is low pressure, meant to be an analogue to the vortex over the pole in Figure 1. Parcels of air move around the low pressure system. If it takes the same amount of time for a parcel farther away from the low pressure center to go around the vortex as a parcel nearer the center, then the parcel farther away has to go faster because the distance it has to go is longer. That is why I drew that arrow, saying that air moves “faster” at the outside edge of the vortex.

To set my point a little more, imagine you are on a bridge overlooking a running stream. If you drop a stick in the water near the edge where the water is moving slowly, then if the stick drifts towards the more rapidly flowing water, it is carried downstream at the edge of the fast moving water. It does not cross the core of fast moving water – this jet of water. In fact the jet is something of a barrier that keeps material from crossing the stream. Material is transported downstream.

Back to Figure 2: Imagine that you want to roll a ball into the center of a vortex. As the ball gets to the edge it gets caught up in the flow and pulled around the edge. It does not roll into the center. Look at the this link to a Powerpoint animation to get a better idea of what’s going on.

Now go back to Figure 1. The vortex in Figure 1 is also a barrier. The southern edge of vortex is a jet stream. Air on the two sides of the vortex often has different characteristics. Intuitively, there is colder air on the poleward side. If you look at trace gases, like ozone, they are different across the edge of the vortex. The takeaway idea is that the edge of the vortex is a barrier. It’s not a perfect barrier, but air on one side is largely separated from the air on the other side. In the next blog, I will describe the difference between the strong and the weak case and its relevance to weather, climate and, perhaps, climate change.

r

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##### 370. tramp96
 Quoting 367. JohnLonergan:I think the monsoon ins and flooding have driven the trolls out from under their bridges.With comments like that I can see why you like RachelMaddow. Her lack of personality and smugness must really attract you.
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##### 369. RevElvis
 Dan Dennett: Dangerous MemesInteresting ideas - especially considering everything that is going on right now
Member Since: September 18, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 1085
##### 368. tramp96
 Quoting 366. Naga5000:Oh, I was just wondering why you chose to quote me and post here and then not discuss the climate. I see there are many questions abound this evening.No i just know you have many opinions and i just wanted to see what your thoughts were on the difference between the two groups of "forecasters".
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##### 367. JohnLonergan
 Quoting 366. Naga5000:Oh, I was just wondering why you chose to quote me and post here and then not discuss the climate. I see there are many questions abound this evening.I think the monsoon rains and flooding have driven the trolls out from under their bridges.
Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4517
##### 366. Naga5000
 Quoting 365. tramp96:No just wondering if you want to control this blog since your not the administrator.Oh, I was just wondering why you chose to quote me and post here and then not discuss the climate. I see there are many questions abound this evening.
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 6 Comments: 5733
##### 365. tramp96
 Quoting 364. Naga5000:Internet tough guy. Rock on, bud.No just wondering if you want to control this blog since your not the administrator.
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##### 364. Naga5000
 Quoting 363. tramp96:Whatever I choose to do. Problem?Internet tough guy. Rock on, bud.
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 6 Comments: 5733
##### 363. tramp96
 Quoting 362. Naga5000:Hi, welcome to the blog! Do you have any climate science to discuss, or did you just drop by to throw a few one liners?Whatever I choose to do. Problem?
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##### 362. Naga5000
 Quoting 361. tramp96:What do you have something against people predicting weather way into the future.Hi, welcome to the blog! Do you have any climate science to discuss, or did you just drop by to throw a few one liners?If they don't have any evidence to base their predictions on, it's not so much a prediction, but more of a random guess.
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 6 Comments: 5733
##### 361. tramp96
 Quoting 334. Naga5000:So the warming is mysteriously going to stop? Sounds like you've been reading the Farmer's Almanac.What do you have something against people predicting weather way into the future.
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##### 360. FLwolverine
 Quoting 348. yoboi:I am still waiting for the 16 yr long elnino.....they hype all the time.....Do you have any idea how ridiculous it sounds when you mention this for the umpteenth time and it gets debunked again? Or are you hoping to reach some lurker who doesn't know that it was said in an interview and only intended as a figure of speech?Man, yoboi, I had higher hopes for you than this!
Member Since: January 6, 2013 Posts: 3 Comments: 2715
##### 359. Birthmark
 Quoting 308. FLwolverine:Obama could unilaterally raise the debt ceiling by citing powers available under the Fourteenth Amendment. Princeton historian Sean Wilentz argues this situation is exactly what amendment authors wanted to prevent when they wrote it. But the Obama administration has concluded otherwise, as it's repeatedly said.Yes, that's true. They have concluded that...but they can't say that it's categorically true. That's why I suspect that the White House is (or has) prepared to take this to the Supreme Court for an emergency ruling if necessary, similar to what occurred in the 2000 Presidential election.I find it impossible to believe that any President, even this one, will stand idly by and watch an economic catastrophe due largely to a small segment of one House of Congress playing games with parliamentary procedure.
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##### 358. Naga5000
 Quoting 356. yoboi: Read the IPPC report.....I know there are parts you would like to skip in it.....it is what it is....You made the claim...obviously it isn't there. I have read it. Sorry buddy. Nice try.
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 6 Comments: 5733
##### 357. ScottLincoln
 Quoting 339. Naga5000:North Carolina has been warming about .37 degrees F per decade. You can look it up here: LinkTemperatures have not leveled off.One year does not make climate. You've been here for awhile, surely you know that.Once the government is appropriated money to function again, you can use the NCDC timeseries site that is more up-to-date.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3507
##### 356. yoboi
 Quoting 354. Naga5000:Did you make that up yourself? Still waiting for any evidence... Read the IPPC report.....I know there are parts you would like to skip in it.....it is what it is....
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 3415
##### 355. yoboi
 Quoting 352. Naga5000:Your sarcasm detector broke.I was putting it in the 16 yr long elnino book....never know what will be said in the doomsday scenerio..........
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 3415
##### 354. Naga5000
 Quoting 353. yoboi:If you can't explain the pause.....how is it you can explain the cause????????Did you make that up yourself? Still waiting for any evidence...
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 6 Comments: 5733
##### 353. yoboi
 Quoting 349. Naga5000:Yeah, where? You couldn't the first time, you still can't now. :EdBegleyJr:If you can't explain the pause.....how is it you can explain the cause????????
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 3415
##### 352. Naga5000
 Quoting 350. yoboi:Here is one justoday trying to scare people that the whole globe is going to ice over and what's really funny 7 people plussed the comment.......285. schwankmoe 2:04 PM GMT on October 13, 2013 +7 at this rate the whole earth will be covered in ice in 20 years! run for your lives! Your sarcasm detector broke.
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##### 351. overwash12
 Quoting 348. yoboi:I am still waiting for the 16 yr long elnino.....they hype all the time..... CAN'T predict the future no matter what. They still try though,don't they?
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##### 350. yoboi
 Quoting 347. overwash12:I get your point,it seems to me that a lot of the doomsday scenarios are over hyped. Then when it does not materialize they change their tune. I wish we could come up with better sources of energy.Here is one justoday trying to scare people that the whole globe is going to ice over and what's really funny 7 people plussed the comment.......285. schwankmoe 2:04 PM GMT on October 13, 2013 +7 at this rate the whole earth will be covered in ice in 20 years! run for your lives!
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 3415
##### 349. Naga5000
 Quoting 345. yoboi:The IPPC said you are WRONG!!!!!!!!Yeah, where? You couldn't the first time, you still can't now. :EdBegleyJr:
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 6 Comments: 5733
##### 348. yoboi
 Quoting 347. overwash12:I get your point,it seems to me that a lot of the doomsday scenarios are over hyped. Then when it does not materialize they change their tune. I wish we could come up with better sources of energy.I am still waiting for the 16 yr long elnino.....they hype all the time.....
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 3415
##### 347. overwash12
 I get your point,it seems to me that a lot of the doomsday scenarios are over hyped. Then when it does not materialize they change their tune. I wish we could come up with better sources of energy.
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##### 346. Astrometeor
 Quoting 345. yoboi:The IPPC said you are WRONG!!!!!!!!It did? Where?
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##### 345. yoboi
 Quoting 342. Naga5000:I'm not saying you are. I'm simply showing you A) it is still warming in your state. B) It is still warming around the world and C) One year does not make climateThe IPPC said you are WRONG!!!!!!!!
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 3415
##### 344. Naga5000
 Quoting 343. overwash12: Where did that false report that said no global warming the past 2 decades come from?Probably some conspiracy pseudo science website I'm sure. If you haven't noticed, we've been very busy debunking crazy. Link
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 6 Comments: 5733
##### 343. overwash12
 Quoting 342. Naga5000:I'm not saying you are. I'm simply showing you A) it is still warming in your state. B) It is still warming around the world and C) One year does not make climate Where did that false report that said no global warming the past 2 decades come from?
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##### 342. Naga5000
 Quoting 340. overwash12: Been here for 33 years now. been thru alot of Hurricanes,blizzards,heat waves,cold outbreaks. Even witnessed the all time record low of -5 F. So,I can say this summer was cooler than most,I ain't making it up.I'm not saying you are. I'm simply showing you A) it is still warming in your state. B) It is still warming around the world and C) One year does not make climate
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 6 Comments: 5733
##### 341. overwash12
 Quoting 338. BaltimoreBrian:Is there a Knotts landing there? They gossip worse around here,BIGTIME!
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##### 340. overwash12
 Quoting 339. Naga5000:North Carolina has been warming about .37 degrees F per decade. You can look it up here: LinkTemperatures have not leveled off.One year does not make climate. You've been here for awhile, surely you know that. Been here for 33 years now. been thru alot of Hurricanes,blizzards,heat waves,cold outbreaks. Even witnessed the all time record low of -5 F. So,I can say this summer was cooler than most,I ain't making it up.
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##### 339. Naga5000
 Quoting 337. overwash12: Knotts island,N.C. and the world I am apart of. Just seems that we are headed for cooler times ahead and that my friend is what makes average temps.Have they leveled off?North Carolina has been warming about .37 degrees F per decade. You can look it up here: LinkTemperatures have not leveled off.One year does not make climate. You've been here for awhile, surely you know that.
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 6 Comments: 5733
##### 338. BaltimoreBrian
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 27 Comments: 12253
##### 337. overwash12
 Quoting 336. Naga5000:Your house still isn't the world. Where are you again? Knotts island,N.C. and the world I am a part of. Just seems that we are headed for cooler times ahead and that my friend is what makes average temps.Have they leveled off?
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##### 336. Naga5000
 Quoting 335. overwash12: Where's the warming? Seawater temp's at my beach never got very warm this summer and we only had a handful or days above 90.Usually we have several days in a row above 90.Very comfy summer.Your house still isn't the world. Where are you again?
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 6 Comments: 5733
##### 335. overwash12
 Quoting 334. Naga5000:So the warming is mysteriously going to stop? Sounds like you've been reading the Farmer's Almanac. Where's the warming? Seawater temp's at my beach never got very warm this summer and we only had a handful or days above 90.Usually we have several days in a row above 90.Very comfy summer.
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##### 334. Naga5000
 Quoting 331. overwash12: AGW who!So the warming is mysteriously going to stop? Sounds like you've been reading the Farmer's Almanac.
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 6 Comments: 5733
##### 333. overwash12
 Quoting 332. BaltimoreBrian:Ewe!A little chuckle,Ha Ha! Baaawhaaa!
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##### 332. BaltimoreBrian
 Quoting 331. overwash12: AGW who!Ewe!
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 27 Comments: 12253
##### 331. overwash12
 Quoting 330. Astrometeor:Your point is? AGW who!
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##### 330. Astrometeor
 Quoting 329. overwash12: You don't study history of weather patterns ,do you? While it might not get as cold as 1977,it very well may rival it. We shall see,let's talk in January!Your point is?
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##### 329. overwash12
 Quoting 328. Astrometeor:He's going to need a leaf bigger than that to smother the above ignorance. You don't study history of weather patterns ,do you? While it might not get as cold as 1977,it very well may rival it. We shall see,let's talk in January!
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##### 328. Astrometeor
 Quoting 327. Naga5000:Please. Ed Begley Jr, get him!He's going to need a leaf bigger than that to smother the above ignorance.
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##### 327. Naga5000
 Quoting 326. overwash12:It's coming iceagecoming,it's a comming!The signs are all around,just don't believe a bunch of scientists with an agenda or getting paid to perpetuate the falsehood.Please. Ed Begley Jr, get him!
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 6 Comments: 5733
##### 326. overwash12
 It's coming iceagecoming,it's a comming!The signs are all around,just don't believe a bunch of scientists with an agenda or getting paid to perpetuate the falsehood.
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##### 325. overwash12
 Quoting 319. JohnLonergan: Interesting cartoon. The truth is there are alot of Wooly Mammoths found frozen in the ice all the time.HMMM... makes you wonder what really happened long time ago.
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##### 324. Xulonn
 I can't handle any more denier crap today...see y'all tomorrow.And 'ya know, Nea, I think that cat's too smart to chase yarn.
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##### 323. JohnLonergan
 Liars gotta lie, deniers gotta deny.
Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4517
##### 322. JohnLonergan
 Figure 1: Easterbrook's global temperature projections (Source)http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics/Easterbr ook_Projection_500.jpg">
Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4517
##### 321. cyclonebuster
 RE:315Yep! That is what we get with warmer oceans that cause more ice mass loss.. We also get more water vaporization to cause more rain storms and snow storms...No different then turning the heat up on a pot of water... The higher you raise the temperature control knob the more water you will boil.... If you don't believe me ask the frog...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 136 Comments: 21000
##### 320. cyclonebuster
 .
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 136 Comments: 21000

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### Dr. Ricky Rood's Climate Change Blog

I'm a professor at U Michigan and lead a course on climate change problem solving. These articles often come from and contribute to the course.

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