A new objective procedure for classifying New Zealand synoptic weather types during 1958-2008

Ningbo Jiang

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    23 Citations (Scopus)


    A set of 12 daily weather types has been obtained for the New Zealand region from the 51-year NCAR/NCEP dataset by using a two-stage classification procedure (rotated T-mode principal component analysis followed by convergent K-means clustering). Analysis of this classification confirms previous studies and provides further insight into the variation features of the regional synoptic weather on the seasonal, interannual and longer-time scales. There are seasonal variations in both intensity and frequency of synoptic weather types. For example, southern highs are more frequent in summer and autumn, while troughs and lows occur more often in winter and secondarily spring. The high and low centres of weather types tend to be more intense in winter than summer. The frequency and lifetime of synoptic weather types fluctuate on the interannual and decadal scales; there exist significant correlations between frequencies of individual weather types and Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). In all seasons, the frequencies of weather types can change with phases of SOI. The most significant changes in weather type frequencies during the negative SOI phase occur in spring, and characterized by more frequent occurrence of weather types which provide prevailing southwesterly to westerly winds and reduced prominence of anticyclonic situations. The most significant changes in type frequencies during the positive SOI phase occur in summer, with more frequent anticyclonic types but less frequent cyclonic types. The frequency change in winter seems different from other seasons, although consistent with previous studies. In addition, the probability of extremely frequent occurrence or lack of occurrence of certain weather types during a month also varies significantly with S OI phases and with seasons, indicating that the chance for extreme weather conditions to occur is conditional on SOI. The results can be useful for climate forecasts, studies of climate extremes, air pollution, climatic impacts on human health and other environmental problems.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)863-879
    Number of pages17
    JournalInternational Journal of Climatology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • Interannual variability
    • K-means
    • New zealand
    • S-mode pCA
    • Southern oscillation index
    • Synoptic climatology
    • T-mode pCA


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