Seesawing of winter temperature extremes between East Asia and North America

Mi Kyung Sung, Seok Woo Son, Changhyun Yoo, Jaeyoung Hwang, Soon Il An

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14 Scopus citations


In recent winters, there have been repeated observations of extreme warm and cold spells in the midlatitude countries. This has evoked questions regarding how winter temperature extremes are induced. In this study, we demonstrate that abnormally warm winter weather in East Asia can drive the onset of extremely cold weather in North America approximately one week forward. These seesawing extremes across the basin are mediated by the North Pacific Oscillation (NPO), one of the recurrent atmospheric patterns over the North Pacific. Budget analysis of the quasigeostrophic geopotential tendency equation shows that intense thermal advection over East Asia is able to trigger the growth of the NPO. Vorticity fluxes associated with the upper-level stationary trough then strengthen and maintain the NPO against thermal damping following the onset of the NPO. Differential diabatic heating accompanied by changes in circulation also positively contribute to the growth and maintenance of the NPO. These results imply that recurrent cold extremes, seemingly contrary to global warming, may be an inherent feature resulting from strengthening warm extremes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4423-4434
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments. This research was supported by a National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korean government (MSIT) (NRF-2018R1A5A1024958). Author Sung was supported by NRF-2018R1D1A1B07044112. Author Yoo was supported by NRF-2019R1C1C1003161.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Meteorological Society.


  • Cold air surges
  • Extreme events
  • North Pacific Oscillation


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