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Influence of the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation and Sea Surface Temperature Variability on Downward Wave Coupling in the Northern Hemisphere

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  • 1 GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Kiel, Germany
  • 2 GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, and Christian-Albrechts Universität zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany
  • 3 Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen, and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway, and GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Kiel, Germany
  • 4 Department of Geophysical, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel, and Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 5 GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Kiel, Germany
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Abstract

Downward wave coupling occurs when an upward-propagating planetary wave from the troposphere decelerates the flow in the upper stratosphere and forms a downward reflecting surface that redirects waves back to the troposphere. To test this mechanism and potential factors influencing the downward wave coupling, three 145-yr sensitivity simulations with NCAR’s Community Earth System Model [CESM1(WACCM)], a state-of-the-art high-top chemistry–climate model, are analyzed. The results show that the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) and SST variability significantly impact downward wave coupling. Without the QBO, the occurrence of downward wave coupling is significantly suppressed. In contrast, stronger and more persistent downward wave coupling occurs when SST variability is excluded.

The above influence on the occurrence of downward wave coupling is mostly due to a direct influence of the QBO and SST variability on stratospheric planetary wave source and propagation. The strengths of the tropospheric circulation and surface responses to a given downward wave coupling event, however, behave differently. The surface anomaly is significantly weaker (stronger) in the experiment with fixed SSTs (without QBO), even though the statistical signal of downward wave coupling is strongest (weakest) in this experiment. This apparent mismatch is explained by the differences in the strength of the synoptic-scale eddy–mean flow feedback and the possible contribution of SST anomalies in the North Atlantic during the downward wave coupling event. The weaker synoptic-scale eddy–mean flow feedback and the absence of the positive NAO-related SST-tripole pattern in the fixed SST experiment are consistent with a weaker tropospheric response to downward wave coupling. The results highlight the importance of synoptic-scale eddies in setting the tropospheric response to downward wave coupling.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JAS-D-15-0072.s1.

Corresponding author address: Sandro W. Lubis, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Düsternbrooker Weg. 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany. E-mail: slubis@geomar.de

Abstract

Downward wave coupling occurs when an upward-propagating planetary wave from the troposphere decelerates the flow in the upper stratosphere and forms a downward reflecting surface that redirects waves back to the troposphere. To test this mechanism and potential factors influencing the downward wave coupling, three 145-yr sensitivity simulations with NCAR’s Community Earth System Model [CESM1(WACCM)], a state-of-the-art high-top chemistry–climate model, are analyzed. The results show that the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) and SST variability significantly impact downward wave coupling. Without the QBO, the occurrence of downward wave coupling is significantly suppressed. In contrast, stronger and more persistent downward wave coupling occurs when SST variability is excluded.

The above influence on the occurrence of downward wave coupling is mostly due to a direct influence of the QBO and SST variability on stratospheric planetary wave source and propagation. The strengths of the tropospheric circulation and surface responses to a given downward wave coupling event, however, behave differently. The surface anomaly is significantly weaker (stronger) in the experiment with fixed SSTs (without QBO), even though the statistical signal of downward wave coupling is strongest (weakest) in this experiment. This apparent mismatch is explained by the differences in the strength of the synoptic-scale eddy–mean flow feedback and the possible contribution of SST anomalies in the North Atlantic during the downward wave coupling event. The weaker synoptic-scale eddy–mean flow feedback and the absence of the positive NAO-related SST-tripole pattern in the fixed SST experiment are consistent with a weaker tropospheric response to downward wave coupling. The results highlight the importance of synoptic-scale eddies in setting the tropospheric response to downward wave coupling.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JAS-D-15-0072.s1.

Corresponding author address: Sandro W. Lubis, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Düsternbrooker Weg. 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany. E-mail: slubis@geomar.de
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