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Potential role of the quasi-biennial oscillation in the stratosphere-troposphere exchange as found in water vapor in general circulation model experiments

Giorgetta, M. A. and Bengtsson, L. (1999) Potential role of the quasi-biennial oscillation in the stratosphere-troposphere exchange as found in water vapor in general circulation model experiments. Journal of Geophysical Research, 104 (D6). p. 6003. ISSN 0148-0227

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/1998JD200112

Abstract/Summary

The tropical tropopause is considered to be the main region of upward transport of tropospheric air carrying water vapor and other tracers to the tropical stratosphere. The lower tropical stratosphere is also the region where the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) in the zonal wind is observed. The QBO is positioned in the region where the upward transport of tropospheric tracers to the overworld takes place. Hence the QBO can in principle modulate these transports by its secondary meridional circulation. This modulation is investigated in this study by an analysis of general circulation model (GCM) experiments with an assimilated QBO. The experiments show, first, that the temperature signal of the QBO modifies the specific humidity in the air transported upward and, second, that the secondary meridional circulation modulates the velocity of the upward transport. Thus during the eastward phase of the QBO the upward moving air is moister and the upward velocity is less than during the westward phase of the QBO. It was further found that the QBO period is too short to allow an equilibration of the moisture in the QBO region. This causes a QBO signal of the moisture which is considerably smaller than what could be obtained in the limiting case of indefinitely long QBO phases. This also allows a high sensitivity of the mean moisture over a QBO cycle to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomena or major tropical volcanic eruptions. The interplay of sporadic volcanic eruptions, ENSO, and QBO can produce low-frequency variability in the water vapor content of the tropical stratosphere, which renders the isolation of the QBO signal in observational data of water vapor in the equatorial lower stratosphere difficult.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:31671

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