The North Atlantic subtropical anticyclone

Robert E. Davis, Bruce P. Hayden, David A. Gay, William L. Phillips, Gregory V. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The semipermanent subtropical anticyclone over the North Atlantic basin (the "Azores high") has a major influence on the weather and climate of much of North America, western Europe, and northwestern Africa. The authors develop a climatology of the Azores high by examining its spatial and temporal changes since 1899. Using gridded surface pressure values, anticyclones are identified when the daily pressure is ≥1020 mb and frequencies are tabulated for each half month from 1899 to 1990. Principal components analysis is applied to analyze the anticyclone's spatial variance structure. The Azores high is dominated by two spatial modes: a summer pattern, in which high pressure dominates the Atlantic basin, and a winter pattern, in which anticyclones are present over eastern North America and northwestern Africa. Century-long declines in these two modes indicate that there has been a net removal of atmospheric mass over the subtropical Atlantic. Other modes include a meridional versus zonal circulation pattern and omega blocks. Time series of the mean annual principal component scores indicate that meridional flow has been increasing over the Atlantic and that blocking anticyclones have become more prevalent over west-central Europe and less common over the northeastern Atlantic and the British Isles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)728-744
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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