Quasi-resonant circulation regimes and hemispheric synchronization of extreme weather in boreal summer

Dim Coumou*, Vladimir Petoukhov, Stefan Rahmstorf, Stefan Petri, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The recent decade has seen an exceptional number of high-impact summer extremes in the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes. Many of these events were associated with anomalous jet stream circulation patterns characterized by persistent high-amplitude quasi-stationary Rossby waves. Two mechanisms have recently been proposed that could provoke such patterns: (i) a weakening of the zonal mean jets and (ii) an amplification of quasi-stationary waves by resonance between free and forced waves in midlatitude waveguides. Based upon spectral analysis of the midtroposphere wind field, we show that the persistent jet stream patterns were, in the first place, due to an amplification of quasi-stationary waves with zonal wave numbers 6-8. However, we also detect a weakening of the zonal mean jet during these events; thus both mechanisms appear to be important. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the anomalous circulation regimes lead to persistent surface weather conditions and therefore to midlatitude synchronization of extreme heat and rainfall events on monthly timescales. The recent cluster of resonance events has resulted in a statistically significant increase in the frequency of high-amplitude quasi-stationary waves of wave numbers 7 and 8 in July and August. We show that this is a robust finding that holds for different pressure levels and reanalysis products. We argue that recent rapid warming in the Arctic and associated changes in the zonal mean zonal wind have created favorable conditions for double jet formation in the extratropics, which promotes the development of resonant flow regimes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12331-12336
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number34
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2014


  • Arctic amplification
  • Climate change
  • Climate impact
  • Midlatitude weather
  • Planetary waves


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