Using Bayesian networks to investigate the influence of subseasonal arctic variability on midlatitude North Atlantic circulation

Nathanael Harwood*, Richard Hall, Giorgia DI Capua, Andrew Russell, Allan Tucker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Recent enhanced warming and sea ice depletion in the Arctic have been put forward as potential drivers of severe weather in the midlatitudes. Evidence of a link between Arctic warming and midlatitude atmospheric circulation is growing, but the role of Arctic processes relative to other drivers remains unknown. Arctic-midlatitude connections in the North Atlantic region are particularly complex but important due to the frequent occurrence of severe winters in recent decades. Here, dynamic Bayesian networks with hidden variables are introduced to the field to assess their suitability for teleconnection analyses. Climate networks are constructed to analyze North Atlantic circulation variability at 5-day to monthly time scales during the winter months of the years 1981-2018. The inclusion of a number of Arctic, midlatitude, and tropical variables allows for an investigation into the relative role of Arctic influence compared to internal atmospheric variability and other remote drivers. A robust covariability between regions of amplified Arctic warming and two definitions of midlatitude circulation is found to occur entirely within winter at submonthly time scales. Hidden variables incorporated in networks represent two distinct modes of stratospheric polar vortex variability, capturing a periodic shift between average conditions and slower anomalous flow. The influence of the Barents-Kara Seas region on the North Atlantic Oscillation is found to be the strongest link at 5- and 10-day averages, while the stratospheric polar vortex strongly influences jet variability on monthly time scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2319-2335
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number6
Early online date24 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments. The authors wish to thank three anonymous reviewers and the handling editor James Screen, whose comments improved the manuscript. Elisabete Silva provided valuable practical support throughout the work. This work was supported by the Natural Environmental Research Council Grant NE/L002485/1. GDC was supported by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung Grant 01LP1611A.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Meteorological Society


  • Algorithms
  • Arctic
  • Atmospheric circulation
  • Machine learning
  • North Atlantic Ocean
  • Teleconnections


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