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Zonal-mean dynamics of extended recoveries from stratospheric sudden warmings

Hitchcock, P. and Shepherd, T. G. ORCID: (2013) Zonal-mean dynamics of extended recoveries from stratospheric sudden warmings. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 70 (2). pp. 688-707. ISSN 1520-0469

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/JAS-D-12-0111.1


The recovery of the Arctic polar vortex following stratospheric sudden warmings is found to take upward of 3 months in a particular subset of cases, termed here polar-night jet oscillation (PJO) events. The anomalous zonal-mean circulation above the pole during this recovery is characterized by a persistently warm lower stratosphere, and above this a cold midstratosphere and anomalously high stratopause, which descends as the event unfolds. Composites of these events in the Canadian Middle Atmosphere Model show the persistence of the lower-stratospheric anomaly is a result of strongly suppressed wave driving and weak radiative cooling at these heights. The upper-stratospheric and lower-mesospheric anomalies are driven immediately following the warming by anomalous planetary-scale eddies, following which, anomalous parameterized nonorographic and orographic gravity waves play an important role. These details are found to be robust for PJO events (as opposed to sudden warmings in general) in that many details of individual PJO events match the composite mean. Azonal-mean quasigeostrophic model on the sphere is shown to reproduce the response to the thermal and mechanical forcings produced during a PJO event. The former is well approximated by Newtonian cooling. The response can thus be considered as a transient approach to the steady-state, downward control limit. In this context, the time scale of the lower-stratospheric anomaly is determined by the transient, radiative response to the extended absence of wave driving. The extent to which the dynamics of the wave-driven descent of the stratopause can be considered analogous to the descending phases of the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) is also discussed.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:32107
Publisher:American Meteorological Society


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