Climate Risk Areas Initiative News

Climate Central article highlights research on tropical links to cold air outbreaks over the eastern U.S.

  • 30 January 2013
Climate Central article highlights research on tropical links to cold air outbreaks over the eastern U.S.


Infrared satellite image as of Tuesday morning, Jan. 22. The yellow shading in southern Canada and the northern U.S. indicates very cold air. Credit: NOAA

An article on ClimateCentral.org discusses whether there is a tropical link to the frigid air gripping a big part of the United States. The article mentions a study published in the journal Climate Dynamics in 2012, in which Michelle L’Heureux and her colleagues found that when the Madden-Julian Ocillation is located in a particular phase, it can favor more cold air outbreaks over the eastern U.S. 

The MJO is associated with a pattern of tropical rainfall that moves eastward along the equator, going around the world in about 30-to-60 days. Because the MJO influences atmospheric heating through tropical rainfall, it can modify weather patterns far away from the equator. L'Heureux, a climate scientist at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, has been studying ways to use the status of the MJO to predict large-scale weather patterns beyond a two-week lead time, when forecasts using current techniques tend to diminish. 

The recent study was supported by the Modeling, Analysis, Predictions & Projections (MAPP) Program as part of the partnership with the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Climate Test Bed.


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