Associations between stratospheric variability and tropospheric blocking
Woollings, T. J., Charlton-Perez, A. J., Ineson, S., Marshall, A. G. and Masato, G. (2010) Associations between stratospheric variability and tropospheric blocking. Journal of Geophysical Research, 115 (D6). D06108. ISSN 0148-0227
To link to this article DOI: 10.1029/2009JD012742
There is widely believed to be a link between stratospheric flow variability and stationary, persistent “blocking” weather systems, but the precise nature of this link has proved elusive. Using data from the ERA-40 Reanalysis and an atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) with a well-resolved stratosphere (HadGAM), it is shown that there are in fact several different highly significant associations, with blocking in different regions being related to different patterns of stratospheric variability. This is true in both hemispheres and in both data sets. The associations in HadGAM are shown to be very similar to those in ERA-40, although the model has a tendency to underestimate both European blocking and the wave number 2 stratospheric variability to which this is related. Although the focus is on stratospheric variability in general, several of the blocking links are seen to occur in association with the major stratospheric sudden warmings. In general, the direction of influence appears to be upward, as blocking anomalies are shown to modify the planetary stationary waves, leading to an upward propagation of wave activity into the stratosphere. However, significant correlations are also apparent with the zonal mean flow in the stratosphere leading the occurrence of blocking at high latitudes. Finally, the underestimation of blocking is an enduring problem in GCMs, and an example has recently been given in which improving the resolution of the stratosphere improved the representation of blocking. Here, however, another example is given, in which increasing the stratospheric resolution unfortunately does not lead to an improvement in blocking.