This paper, A census of atmospheric variability from seconds to decades, synthesises and summarises atmospheric variability on time scales from seconds to decades through a phenomenological census. It focuses mainly on unforced variability in the troposphere, stratosphere, and mesosphere.

In addition to atmosphere-only modes, our scope also includes coupled modes, in which the atmosphere interacts with the other components of the Earth system, such as the ocean, hydrosphere, and cryosphere.

The topics covered include turbulence on time scales of seconds and minutes, gravity waves on time scales of hours, weather systems on time scales of days, atmospheric blocking on time scales of weeks, the Madden–Julian Oscillation on time scales of months, the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation and El Niño–Southern Oscillation on time scales of years, and the North Atlantic, Arctic, Antarctic, Pacific Decadal, and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillations on time scales of decades.

The paper serves as an introduction to a special collection of Geophysical Research Letters on atmospheric variability.

  • Williams, P. D., Alexander, M. J., Barnes, E. A., Butler, A. H., Davies, H. C., Garfinkel, C. I., … Zhang, C. (2017). A census of atmospheric variability from seconds to decades. Geophysical Research Letters, 44, 11,201–11,211. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GL075483