Tropical influence on heat-generating atmospheric circulation over Australia strengthens through spring

Roseanna C. McKay, Julie M. Arblaster, Pandora Hope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Extreme maximum temperatures during Australian spring can have deleterious impacts on a range of sectors from health to wine grapes to planning for wildfires but are studied relatively little compared to spring rainfall. Spring maximum temperatures in Australia have been rising over recent decades, and it is important to understand how Australian spring maximum temperatures develop in the present and warming climate. Australia's climate is influenced by variability in the tropics and extratropics, but some of this influence impacts Australia differently from winter to summer and, consequently, may have different impacts on Australia as spring evolves. Using linear regression analysis, this paper explores the atmospheric dynamics and remote drivers of high maximum temperatures over the individual months of spring. We find that the drivers of early spring maximum temperatures in Australia are more closely related to low-level wind changes, which in turn are more related to the Southern Annular Mode than variability in the tropics. By late spring, Australia's maximum temperatures are proportionally more related to warming through subsidence than low-level wind changes and more closely related to tropical variability. This increased relationship with the tropical variability is linked with the breakdown of the subtropical jet through spring and an associated change in tropically forced Rossby wave teleconnections. An improved understanding of how the extratropics and tropics project onto the mechanisms that drive high maximum temperatures through spring may lead to improved sub-seasonal prediction of high temperatures in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-428
Number of pages16
JournalWeather and Climate Dynamics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2022

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