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The role of eddies in driving the tropospheric response to stratospheric heating perturbations

Simpson, I. R., Blackburn, M. and Haigh, J. D. (2009) The role of eddies in driving the tropospheric response to stratospheric heating perturbations. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 66 (5). pp. 1347-1365. ISSN 1520-0469

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/2008JAS2758.1


A simplified general circulation model has been used to investigate the chain of causality whereby changes in tropospheric circulation and temperature are produced in response to stratospheric heating perturbations. Spinup ensemble experiments have been performed to examine the evolution of the tropospheric circulation in response to such perturbations. The primary aim of these experiments is to investigate the possible mechanisms whereby a tropospheric response to changing solar activity over the 11-yr solar cycle could be produced in response to heating of the equatorial lower stratosphere. This study therefore focuses on a stratospheric heating perturbation in which the heating is largest in the tropics. For comparison, experiments are also performed in which the stratosphere is heated uniformly at all latitudes and in which it is heated preferentially in the polar region. Thus, the mechanisms discussed have a wider relevance for the impact of stratospheric perturbations on the troposphere. The results demonstrate the importance of changing eddy momentum fluxes in driving the tropospheric response. This is confirmed by the lack of a similar response in a zonally symmetric model with fixed eddy forcing. Furthermore, it is apparent that feedback between the tropospheric eddy fluxes and tropospheric circulation changes is required to produce the full model response. The quasigeostrophic index of refraction is used to diagnose the cause of the changes in eddy behavior. It is demonstrated that the latitudinal extent of stratospheric heating is important in determining the direction of displacement of the tropospheric jet and storm track.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
ID Code:4470
Uncontrolled Keywords:general-circulation models; relatively simple agcm; 11-year solar-cycle; planetary-waves; northern-hemisphere; climate; propagation; variability; impact; sensitivity
Publisher:American Meteorological Society
Publisher Statement:© Copyright 2009 of the American Meteorological Society. The AMS Copyright Policy is available on the AMS web site at


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