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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008 Dec;1146:235-55. doi: 10.1196/annals.1446.017.

A climatology based on reanalysis of baroclinic developmental regions in the extratropical northern hemisphere.

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  • 1Facultade de Ciencias de Ourense, Universidade de Vigo, Ourense, Spain.


Regions of the occurrence of different phenomena related to the development of baroclinic disturbances are reviewed for the Northern Hemisphere extratropics, using National Centers for Environmental Prediction/National Center for Atmospheric Research reanalysis data. The occurrence of height lows appears to be related to the orography near the earth's surface and with surface- and upper-air cyclogenesis in the upper troposphere. Over the cyclone tracks, the surface maxima appear to be trapped by land masses, whereas over the Mediterranean Sea they are located on the lee side of mountain ranges. The forcing terms of the geopotential tendency and omega equations mark the genesis (and, by the vorticity advection terms, the path) of the extratropical cyclones on the storm track. They occur mostly over the western coast of the oceans, beginning and having maxima on the lee side of the Rocky Mountains and the Tibetan Plateau. Their associated fronts form from the cold air coming from the continents and converging with the warm air over the Gulf and Kuroshio currents. Evident trends are found only for the Atlantic cyclone track (positive) and the Pacific cyclone track (negative) until the last decade when the tendency reverses. Over the southern Pacific, the number of fronts is lower during 1978-1997, coinciding with a period of strong El Niño Southern Oscillation episodes. This information is important for validating numerical models in order to predict changes associated with climate change and to study the behavior of extratropical cyclones and fronts.

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