Articles | Volume 4, issue 1
Research article
 | Highlight paper
13 Jan 2023
Research article | Highlight paper |  | 13 Jan 2023

The role of Rossby waves in polar weather and climate

Tim Woollings, Camille Li, Marie Drouard, Etienne Dunn-Sigouin, Karim A. Elmestekawy, Momme Hell, Brian Hoskins, Cheikh Mbengue, Matthew Patterson, and Thomas Spengler


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Discussed (final revised paper)

Latest update: 01 Mar 2024
Executive editor
The paper by Tim Woollings et al. provides first a theoretical summary of the role of Rossby wave dynamics for polar variability, regarding the large-scale polar flow conceptually as a superposition of geostrophic turbulence and Rossby wave propagation, emphasising the key role of isolated vortices at high latitudes. In a second part, the paper addresses how comparatively weak Rossby waves can be triggered from high latitudes in the presence of a relative vorticity gradient as a direct response to sea ice loss, which often manifests as a heat low. The paper provides a well written and much needed foundation for an active area of research.
Short summary
This paper investigates large-scale atmospheric variability in polar regions, specifically the balance between large-scale turbulence and Rossby wave activity. The polar regions are relatively more dominated by turbulence than lower latitudes, but Rossby waves are found to play a role and can even be triggered from high latitudes under certain conditions. Features such as cyclone lifetimes, high-latitude blocks, and annular modes are discussed from this perspective.