Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Publication Date
28 April 2020

Atmospheric Teleconnection Processes Linking Winter Air Stagnation and Haze Extremes in China With Regional Arctic Sea Ice Decline



Recent studies suggested significant impacts of boreal cryosphere changes on wintertime air stagnation and haze pollution extremes in China. However, the underlying mechanisms of such a teleconnection relationship remains unclear. Here we use the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM) to investigate dynamic processes leading to atmospheric circulation and air stagnation responses to Arctic sea ice changes. We conduct four climate sensitivity experiments by perturbing sea ice concentrations (SIC) and corresponding sea surface temperature (SST) in autumn and early winter over the whole Arctic and three subregions in the climate model. The results indicate distinct responses in circulation patterns and regional ventilation to the region-specific Arctic changes, with the largest increase of both the probability (by 132 %) and the intensity (by 30 %) of monthly air stagnation extremes being found in the experiment driven by SIC and SST changes over the Pacific sector of the Arctic (the East Siberian and Chukchi seas). The increased air stagnation extremes are mainly driven by an amplified planetary-scale atmospheric teleconnection pattern that resembles the negative phase of the Eurasian (EU) pattern. Dynamical diagnostics suggest that convergence of transient eddy forcing in the vicinity of Scandinavia in winter is largely responsible for the amplification of the teleconnection pattern. Transient eddy vorticity fluxes dominate the transient eddy forcing and produce a barotropic anticyclonic anomaly near Scandinavia and wave train propagation across Eurasia to the downstream regions in East Asia. The piecewise potential vorticity inversion analysis reveals that this long-range atmospheric teleconnection of Arctic origin takes place primarily via the middle and upper troposphere. The anomalous ridge over East Asia in the middle and upper troposphere worsens regional ventilation conditions by weakening monsoon northwesterlies and enhancing temperature inversions near the surface, leading to more and stronger air stagnation and pollution extremes over eastern China in winter. Ensemble projections based on state-of-the-art climate models in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) corroborate this teleconnection relationship between high-latitude environmental changes and midlatitude weather extremes, though the tendency and magnitude vary considerably among each participating model.
“Atmospheric Teleconnection Processes Linking Winter Air Stagnation And Haze Extremes In China With Regional Arctic Sea Ice Decline ”. 2020. Atmospheric Chemistry And Physics 20: 4999-5017. doi:10.5194/acp-20-4999-2020.
Funding Program Area(s)