Newswise — People have become familiar with “bomb cyclones” this winter, as several powerful winter storms brought strong winds and heavy precipitation to the U.S. east coast, knocking out power and causing flooding. 
Scientists have extensively studied potential causes behind these year-to-year changes in attempt to better forecast storm tracks and their extreme impacts, but new research from scientists at the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, funded by NOAA Research’s MAPP Program, identifies another crucial controlling force. 
After analyzing 38 years of model data, the research team found that an alternating pattern of winds high up in the tropical stratosphere, called the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO), affects significant year-to-year changes in both the North Pacific and North Atlantic storm tracks. 

The QBO’s dual influence
Past research has primarily considered how variabilities in the lower part of our atmosphere — the troposphere — and in the polar region of our stratosphere influence storm tracks. These studies mostly found that different atmospheric patterns affected storm tracks in just one ocean basin. For instance, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation influences the North Pacific storm track but not the North Atlantic storm track.

“This study finds that the QBO modulates the North Pacific and North Atlantic storm track simultaneously. Such a finding on a basin-wide influence is relatively new,” said Hyemi Kim, paper co-author and SBU Assistant Professor.

Not only does the QBO influence both the North Pacific and North Atlantic storm tracks, but the authors also found that the two storm tracks respond differently.

To read the full paper, published in AGU Publications, visit: 
If you're interested in connecting with one of the researchers, let me know and I'd be happy to coordinate an interview.





Alida Almonte-Giannini

​Media Relations Manager

Communications & Marketing

Stony Brook University

Office: 631.632.6084 | Cell: 631.356.4966

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Journal Link: AGU Publications