On the direction of Rossby wave breaking in blocking

C. Weijenborg, H. de Vries, R.J. Haarsma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The direction of Rossby wave breaking at the onset of large-scale atmospheric blocking events is shown to relate closely to its position relative to the location of the climatological storm tracks. Using ERA-Interim reanalysis data from October 1989 to March 2009 and a dynamicallybased blocking index, Rossby wave breaking is shown to occur preferentially cyclonically to the north, and anticyclonically to the south of the average storm tracks location. Therefore the results support existing theory on the relation between Rossby wave breaking direction and barotropic shear of the background wind. The further away from the storm tracks the breaking occurs, the stronger this preference in breaking direction. Regional differences can also be explained. For the European region on average 70 % of the detected blocking took place after anticyclonic Rossby wave breaking event that occurred on average 6" south of the climatological storm tracks position. Over Western Pacific wave breaking prior to blocking occurs predominantly cyclonically and on average 6" north of the storm tracks. Differences in blocking duration and intensity are found to be within estimated error margins at most longitudes, except for the Atlantic-Europe sector where the blocking events following anticyclonic blocking are also the strongest.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalClimate Dynamics
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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