North Atlantic Rossby wave breaking during the hurricane season: Association with tropical and extratropical variability

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This study explores the connection of Rossby wave breaking (RWB) with tropical and extratropical variability during the Atlantic hurricane season. The exploration emphasizes subtropical anticyclonic RWB events over the western North Atlantic, which strongly affect tropical cyclone (TC) activity. The first part of the study investigates the link between RWB and tropical sea surface temperature (SST) variability. Tropical SST variability affects tropical precipitation and modulates the large-scale atmospheric circulation over the subtropical Atlantic, which influences the behaviors of Rossby waves and the frequency of RWB occurrence. Meanwhile, RWB regulates surface heat fluxes and helps to sustain SST anomalies in the western North Atlantic. The second part of the study explores the connections between RWB and extratropical atmosphere variability by leveraging weather regime analysis. The weather regimes over the North Atlantic are closely associated with RWB over the eastern North Atlantic and western Europe, but show weak associations with RWB over the western North Atlantic. Instead, RWB over the western basin is closely related to the weather regimes in the North Pacific-North America sector. The finding helps clarify why the correlation between the Atlantic TC activity and the summertime North Atlantic Oscillation is tenuous. The relations between the extratropical weather regimes and tropical climate modes are also discussed. The findings suggest that both tropical and extratropical variability are important for understanding variations of RWB events and their impacts on Atlantic TC activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3777-3801
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2019


  • Atmosphere-ocean interaction
  • North Atlantic Ocean
  • Seasonal forecasting
  • Summer/warm season
  • Tropical cyclones
  • Wave breaking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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