Heat Extremes Driven by Amplification of Phase-Locked Circumglobal Waves Forced by Topography in an Idealized Atmospheric Model

Geophys Res Lett. 2022 Nov 16;49(21):e2021GL096337. doi: 10.1029/2021GL096337. Epub 2022 Nov 9.


Heatwaves are persistent temperature extremes associated with devastating impacts on human societies and ecosystems. In the midlatitudes, amplified quasi-stationary Rossby waves have been identified as a key mechanism for heatwave occurrence. Amplified waves with preferred longitudinal locations lead to concurrent extremes in specific locations. It is therefore important to identify the essential components in the climate system that contribute to phase-locking of wave patterns. Here, we investigate the role of dry atmospheric dynamics and topography in causing concurrent heatwaves by using an idealized general circulation model. Topography is included in the model experiments as a Gaussian mountain. Our results show that amplified Rossby waves exhibit clear phase-locking behavior and a decrease in the zonal phase speed when a large-scale localized topographic forcing is imposed, leading to concurrent heat extremes at preferred locations.

Keywords: Rossby waves; circumglobal teleconnections; heatwaves; idealized modeling; phase locking; topography.