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Keywords:

  • climate change;
  • jet shifts;
  • wave breaking

[1] A Rossby wave breaking identification method is presented which searches for overturning of absolute vorticity contours on pressure surfaces. The results are compared to those from an analysis of isentropic potential vorticity, and it is demonstrated that both yield similar wave breaking distributions. As absolute vorticity is easily obtained from most model output, we present wave breaking frequency distributions from the ERA-Interim data set, thirteen general circulation models (GCMs) and a barotropic model. We demonstrate that a poleward shift of the Southern Hemisphere midlatitude jet is accompanied by a decrease in poleward wave breaking in both the barotropic model and all GCMs across multiple climate forcing scenarios. In addition, it is shown that while anticyclonic wave breaking shifts poleward with the jet, cyclonic wave breaking shifts less than half as much and reaches a poleward limit near 60 degrees S. Comparison of the observed distribution of Southern Hemisphere wave breaking with those from the GCMs suggests that wave breaking on the poleward flank of the jet has already reached its poleward limit and will likely become less frequent if the jet migrates any further poleward with climate change.