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Keywords:

  • atmospheric blocking;
  • high resolution;
  • orography;
  • mean state;
  • transient eddies

Abstract

An underestimate of atmospheric blocking occurrence is a well-known limitation of many climate models. This article presents an analysis of Northern Hemisphere winter blocking in an atmospheric model with increased horizontal resolution. European blocking frequency increases with model resolution, and this results from an improvement in the atmospheric patterns of variability as well as a simple improvement in the mean state. There is some evidence that the transient eddy momentum forcing of European blocks is increased at high resolution, which could account for this. However, it is also shown that the increase in resolution of the orography is needed to realise the improvement in blocking, consistent with the increase in height of the Rocky Mountains acting to increase the tilt of the Atlantic jet stream and giving higher mean geopotential heights over northern Europe. Blocking frequencies in the Pacific sector are also increased with atmospheric resolution, but in this case the improvement in orography actually leads to a decrease in blocking Copyright © 2012 Royal Meteorological Society and British Crown copyright, Met Office.