To assess the extent to which atmospheric low-frequency variability can be ascribed to internal dynamical causes, two extended runs (1200 winter seasons) of a three level quasi-geostrophic model have been carried out. In the first experiment the model was forced by an average forcing field computed from nine winter seasons; in the second experiment we used a periodically variable forcing in order to simulate a seasonal cycle. The analysis has been focused on the leading Northern Hemisphere teleconnection patterns, namely the Pacific North American (PNA) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) patterns, and on blocking, both in the Euro-Atlantic and Pacific sectors. The NAO and PNA patterns are realistically simulated by the model; the main difference with observations is a westward shift of the centres of action of the NAO. Related to this, the region of maximum frequency of Atlantic blocking is shifted from the eastern boundary of the North Atlantic to its central part. Apart from this shift, the statistics of blocking frequency and duration compare favourably with their observed counterparts. In particular, the model exhibits a level of interannual and interdecadal variability in blocking frequency which is (at least) as large as the observed one, despite the absence of any variability in the atmospheric energy sources and boundary conditions on such time scales.
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