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Response of the northern stratospheric polar vortex to the seasonal alignment of QBO phase transitions

Anstey, J.A. and Shepherd, T. G. (2008) Response of the northern stratospheric polar vortex to the seasonal alignment of QBO phase transitions. Geophysical Research Letters, 35 (22). L22810. ISSN 0094-8276

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1029/2008GL035721

Abstract/Summary

This study considers the strength of the Northern Hemisphere Holton-Tan effect (HTE) in terms of the phase alignment of the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) with respect to the annual cycle. Using the ERA-40 Reanalysis, it is found that the early winter (Nov–Dec) and late winter (Feb–Mar) relation between QBO phase and the strength of the stratospheric polar vortex is optimized for subsets of the 44-year record that are chosen on the basis of the seasonality of QBO phase transitions at the 30 hPa level. The timing of phase transitions serves as a proxy for changes in the vertical structure of the QBO over the whole depth of the tropical stratosphere. The statistical significance of the Nov–Dec (Feb–Mar) HTE is greatest when 30 hPa QBO phase transitions occur 9–14 (4–9) months prior to the January of the NH winter in question. This suggests that there exists for both early and late winter a vertical structure of tropical stratospheric winds that is most effective at influencing the interannual variability of the polar vortex, and that an early (late) winter HTE is associated with an early (late) progression of QBO phase towards that structure. It is also shown that the seasonality of QBO phase transitions at 30 hPa varies on a decadal timescale, with transitions during the first half of the calendar year being relatively more common during the first half of the tropical radiosonde wind record. Combining these two results suggests that decadal changes in HTE strength could result from the changing seasonality of QBO phase transitions. Citation: Anstey, J. A., and T. G. Shepherd (2008), Response of the northern stratospheric polar vortex to the seasonal alignment of QBO phase transitions, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L22810, doi:10.1029/2008GL035721.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:31491
Uncontrolled Keywords:Climate change and variability; Middle atmosphere dynamics
Publisher:American Geophysical Union

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