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The Lower-Stratospheric Response to 11-Yr Solar Forcing: Coupling to the Troposphere–Ocean Response

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  • 1 Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
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Abstract

The origin of the tropical lower-stratospheric response to 11-yr solar forcing and its possible coupling to a troposphere–ocean response is investigated using multiple linear regression (MLR) analyses of stratospheric ozone and temperature data over the 1979–2009 period and tropospheric sea level pressure (SLP) data over the 1880–2009 period. Stratospheric MLR results, comparisons with simulations from a chemistry–climate model, and analyses of decadal variations of meridional eddy heat flux indicate that the tropical lower-stratospheric response is produced mainly by a solar-induced modulation of the Brewer–Dobson circulation (BDC), with a secondary contribution from the Hadley circulation in the lowermost stratosphere. MLR analyses of long-term SLP data confirm previous results indicating a distinct positive response, on average, during the northern winter season in the North Pacific. The mean response in the Northern Hemisphere resembles a positive Arctic Oscillation mode and can also be characterized as “La Niña–like,” implying a reduction of Rossby wave forcing, a weakening of the BDC, and an increase in tropical lower-stratospheric ozone and temperature near solar maxima. However, MLR analyses of different time periods show that the Pacific SLP response is not always present during every cycle; it was most clearly detected mainly during the ~1938–93 period when 11-yr solar variability was especially strong. During the 1979–93 period, the SLP response was strongly present when the lower-stratospheric responses were large. But during the 1994–2009 period, the SLP response was much less significant and the lower-stratospheric responses were weak, supporting the hypothesis that the lower-stratospheric and surface climate responses are dynamically coupled.

Corresponding author address: Lon L. Hood, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, The University of Arizona, 1629 E. University Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85721. E-mail: lon@lpl.arizona.edu

Abstract

The origin of the tropical lower-stratospheric response to 11-yr solar forcing and its possible coupling to a troposphere–ocean response is investigated using multiple linear regression (MLR) analyses of stratospheric ozone and temperature data over the 1979–2009 period and tropospheric sea level pressure (SLP) data over the 1880–2009 period. Stratospheric MLR results, comparisons with simulations from a chemistry–climate model, and analyses of decadal variations of meridional eddy heat flux indicate that the tropical lower-stratospheric response is produced mainly by a solar-induced modulation of the Brewer–Dobson circulation (BDC), with a secondary contribution from the Hadley circulation in the lowermost stratosphere. MLR analyses of long-term SLP data confirm previous results indicating a distinct positive response, on average, during the northern winter season in the North Pacific. The mean response in the Northern Hemisphere resembles a positive Arctic Oscillation mode and can also be characterized as “La Niña–like,” implying a reduction of Rossby wave forcing, a weakening of the BDC, and an increase in tropical lower-stratospheric ozone and temperature near solar maxima. However, MLR analyses of different time periods show that the Pacific SLP response is not always present during every cycle; it was most clearly detected mainly during the ~1938–93 period when 11-yr solar variability was especially strong. During the 1979–93 period, the SLP response was strongly present when the lower-stratospheric responses were large. But during the 1994–2009 period, the SLP response was much less significant and the lower-stratospheric responses were weak, supporting the hypothesis that the lower-stratospheric and surface climate responses are dynamically coupled.

Corresponding author address: Lon L. Hood, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, The University of Arizona, 1629 E. University Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85721. E-mail: lon@lpl.arizona.edu
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