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Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres






American Geophysical Union

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The most severe thunderstorms, producing extreme precipitation, occur over subtropical and midlatitude regions. Atmospheric conditions conducive to organized, intense thunderstorms commonly involve the coupling of a low-level jet (LLJ) with a synoptic short wave. The midlatitude synoptic activity is frequently modulated by the circumglobal teleconnection (CGT), in which meridional gradients of the jet stream act as a guide for short Rossby waves. Previous research has linked extreme precipitation events with either the CGT or the LLJ but has not linked the two circulation features together. In this study, a circulation-based index was developed by combining (a) the degree of the CGT and LLJ coupling, (b) the extent to which this CGT-LLJ coupling connects to regional precipitation and (c) the spatial correspondence with the CGT (short wave) trending pattern over the recent 32 years (1979–2010). Four modern-era global reanalyses, in conjunction with four gridded precipitation data sets, were utilized to minimize spurious trends. The results are suggestive of a link between the CGT/LLJ trends and several recent extreme precipitation events, including those leading to the 2008 Midwest flood in U.S., the 2011 tornado outbreaks in southeastern U.S., the 2010 Queensland flood in northeastern Australia, and to the opposite side the 2012 central U.S. drought. Moreover, an analysis of three Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 models from the historical experiments points to the role of greenhouse gases in forming the CGT trends during the warm season.

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