Accessibility navigation

A new mathematical framework for atmospheric blocking events

Lucarini, V. ORCID: and Gritsun, A. (2020) A new mathematical framework for atmospheric blocking events. Climate Dynamics, 54 (1-2). pp. 575-598. ISSN 0930-7575

Text (Open Access) - Published Version
· Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.
· Please see our End User Agreement before downloading.

[img] Text - Accepted Version
· Restricted to Repository staff only
· The Copyright of this document has not been checked yet. This may affect its availability.


It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00382-019-05018-2


We use a simple yet Earth-like hemispheric atmospheric model to propose a new framework for the mathematical properties of blocking events. Using finite-time Lyapunov exponents, we show that the occurrence of blockings is associated with conditions featuring anomalously high instability. Longer-lived blockings are very rare and have typically higher instability. In the case of Atlantic blockings, predictability is especially reduced at the onset and decay of the blocking event, while a relative increase of predictability is found in the mature phase. The opposite holds for Pacific blockings, for which predictability is lowest in the mature phase. Blockings are realised when the trajectory of the system is in the neighbourhood of a specific class of unstable periodic orbits (UPOs), natural modes of variability that cover the attractor the system. UPOs corresponding to blockings have, indeed, a higher degree of instability compared to UPOs associated with zonal flow. Our results provide a rigorous justification for the classical Markov chains-based analysis of transitions between weather regimes. The analysis of UPOs elucidates that the model features a very severe violation of hyperbolicity, due to the presence of a substantial variability in the number of unstable dimensions, which explains why atmospheric states can differ a lot in term of their predictability. The resulting lack of robustness might be a fundamental cause contributing to the difficulty in representing blockings in numerical models and in predicting how their statistics will change as a result of climate change. This corresponds to fundamental issues limiting our ability to construct very accurate numerical models of the atmosphere, in term of predictability of the both the first and of the second kind in the sense of Lorenz.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for the Mathematics of Planet Earth (CMPE)
ID Code:86767


Downloads per month over past year

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation