Indicators and trends of polar cold airmass

Yuki Kanno, John E. Walsh, Muhammad R. Abdillah, Junpei Yamaguchi, Toshiki Iwasaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Trends and variations in the amount of cold airmass in the Arctic and the Northern Hemisphere are evaluated for the 60 year period, 1959-2018. The two indicators are (1) polar cold air mass (PCAM), which is the amount of air below a potential temperature threshold, and (2) negative heat content (NHC), which includes a weighting by coldness. Because the metrics of coldness are based on multiple layers in the atmosphere, they provide a more comprehensive framework for assessment of warming than is provided by surface air temperatures alone. The negative trends of PCAM and NHC are stronger (as a % per decade) when the threshold is 245 K rather than 280 K, indicating that the loss of extremely cold air is happening at a faster rate than the loss of moderately cold air. The loss of cold air has accelerated, as the most rapid loss of NHC has occurred in recent decades (1989-2018). The spatial patterns of the trends of PCAM and NHC provide another manifestation of Arctic amplification. Of the various teleconnection indices, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation shows the strongest correlations with the spatially integrated metrics of moderate coldness. Several Pacific indices also correlate significantly with these indicators. However, the amount of extremely cold air mass does not correlate significantly with the indices of internal variability used here.

Original languageEnglish
Article number025006
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Feb 11


  • Arctic
  • climate
  • cold airmass
  • indicators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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