The Development of the North Pacific Jet Phase Diagram as an Objective Tool to Monitor the State and Forecast Skill of the Upper-Tropospheric Flow Pattern

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Previous studies employing empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analyses of upper-tropospheric zonal wind anomalies have identified the leading modes of North Pacific jet (NPJ) variability that prevail on synoptic time scales. The first mode corresponds to a zonal extension or retraction of the exit region of the climatological NPJ, while the second mode corresponds to a poleward or equatorward shift of the exit region of the climatological NPJ. These NPJ regimes can strongly influence the character of the large-scale flow pattern over North America. Consequently, knowledge of the prevailing NPJ regime and the forecast skill associated with each NPJ regime can add considerable value to operational medium-range (6–10-day) forecasts over North America. This study documents the development of an NPJ phase diagram, which is constructed from the two leading EOFs of 250-hPa zonal wind anomalies during 1979–2014 excluding the summer months (June–August). The projection of 250-hPa zonal wind anomalies at one or multiple times onto the NPJ phase diagram provides an objective characterization of the state or evolution of the upper-tropospheric flow pattern over the North Pacific with respect to the two leading EOFs. A 30-yr analysis of GEFS reforecasts with respect to the NPJ phase diagram demonstrates that forecasts verified during jet retraction and equatorward shift regimes are associated with significantly larger average errors than jet extension and poleward shift regimes. An examination of the best and worst forecasts further suggests that periods characterized by rapid NPJ regime transition and the development and maintenance of North Pacific blocking events exhibit reduced forecast skill.



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