Arctic Oscillation research activity

The winter that never was…
thanks Arctic Oscillation
This winter seasons was atypical. We had warmer than normal temperatures throughout the coldest months
of the year, with very minimal snowfall. However, in other locations around the world they had colder than
normal weather and received very extensive snowfall (Europe). Why is this so? Many people are calling this
winter a result of global warming or El Nino, however, it seems that it is due to the Arctic Oscillation.
While conducting the following online research we will become more aware of this phenomenon and
better understand the year weather deviations that can occur. We will also take a look at the effects of El Nino
and La Nina and how they too can have short term effects on the climate of a region, in some cases having a
positive influence on their industries.
Research Questions:
Upper Atmospheric Circulation
1. Explain the characteristics of the Polar High-Pressure Cells.
These are the typical pressure cells that are located in Polar Regions and give us our typical climates.
2. What are Rossby waves? Include a diagram that shows the development of these waves as they
Arctic Oscillation
3. Compare and contrast the Positive and Negative Phases of the Arctic Oscillation.
4. Show weather data (temperature) for an area as it experiences the positive and negative phase of the
AO. What is the average temperature deviation from the “normal” seasonal temperature?
5. What AO Phase is present this winter?
6. How might this phase of the AO have impacted our economy? Think about positive and negative
impacts…try to find stats!
El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO)
7. Explain the El Nino Southern Oscillation event (ENSO), highlighting both El Nino and La Nina that make
up the entire ocean-atmosphere phenomenon. Provide maps and diagrams to add a visual component
to your explanation.
8. Explain the impacts that these two phases will have on Canada and one other country. Will some
countries be happy to welcome El Nino every five years? (Peru, Britain…) Explain.