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The large-scale circulation anomalies associated with the 1988 drought and the 1993 floods are investigated with the National Centers for Environmental Prediction Reanalysis data and a linear stationary wave model. The transient vorticity and thermal forcings are explicitly calculated and the diabatic heating is derived as a residual in the thermodynamic energy equation. Using the April–June (AMJ) data for 1988, and June–August (JJA) data for 1993, the linear stationary wave model is able to reproduce the main features of the geopotential height anomaly for the two seasons when all forcings are included. This provides a basis for further investigation of stationary wave response to different forcing mechanisms using the linear model. Within the linear model framework, the linear model responses to different forcings are examined separately. The results indicate that the 1988 anomaly over the United States is a result of both the diabatic heating and the transient vorticity and thermal forcings. The large anticyclonic anomalies over the North Pacific and Canada are forced mainly by the diabatic heating. The 1993 anomaly, however, is dominated by the response to transient vorticity forcing. By further separating the linear model responses to regional diabatic heating anomalies in 1988, the results indicate that the western North Pacific heating is entirely responsible for the anticyclonic center over the North Pacific, which causes the northward shift and intensification of the Pacific jet stream. The eastern North Pacific heating/cooling couplet is the most important for maintaining the North American circulation anomaly. The tropical eastern Pacific cooling/heating anomalies associated with the La Nina condition have negligible influence on the North American circulation. In 1993, the strong diabatic heating over the North American continent largely compensates the effect of the cooling over the North Pacific. The dynamics of the AMJ and JJA climate is further explored by calculating its Green’s function for both diabatic heating and vorticity forcing. The results again show negligible influence from the equatorial Pacific. The most effective location for diabatic heating to generate a North American circulation anomaly is along the west coast of North America, where the zonal wind is relatively weak. There is little sensitivity in the Green’s function solution to the different basic states.

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Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences