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The Effect of Tropospheric Jet Latitude on Coupling between the Stratospheric Polar Vortex and the Troposphere

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  • 1 Department of Earth and Planetary Science, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
  • | 2 Center for Atmosphere Ocean Science, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University, New York, New York
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Abstract

A dry general circulation model is used to investigate how coupling between the stratospheric polar vortex and the extratropical tropospheric circulation depends on the latitude of the tropospheric jet. The tropospheric response to an identical stratospheric vortex configuration is shown to be strongest for a jet centered near 40° and weaker for jets near either 30° or 50° by more than a factor of 3. Stratosphere-focused mechanisms based on stratospheric potential vorticity inversion, eddy phase speed, and planetary wave reflection, as well as arguments based on tropospheric eddy heat flux and zonal length scale, appear to be incapable of explaining the differences in the magnitude of the jet shift. In contrast, arguments based purely on tropospheric variability involving the strength of eddy–zonal mean flow feedbacks and jet persistence, and related changes in the synoptic eddy momentum flux, appear to explain this effect. The dependence of coupling between the stratospheric polar vortex and the troposphere on tropospheric jet latitude found here is consistent with 1) the observed variability in the North Atlantic and the North Pacific and 2) the trend in the Southern Hemisphere as projected by comprehensive models.

Corresponding author address: Chaim I. Garfinkel, Department of Earth and Planetary Science, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21209. E-mail: cig4@jhu.edu

Abstract

A dry general circulation model is used to investigate how coupling between the stratospheric polar vortex and the extratropical tropospheric circulation depends on the latitude of the tropospheric jet. The tropospheric response to an identical stratospheric vortex configuration is shown to be strongest for a jet centered near 40° and weaker for jets near either 30° or 50° by more than a factor of 3. Stratosphere-focused mechanisms based on stratospheric potential vorticity inversion, eddy phase speed, and planetary wave reflection, as well as arguments based on tropospheric eddy heat flux and zonal length scale, appear to be incapable of explaining the differences in the magnitude of the jet shift. In contrast, arguments based purely on tropospheric variability involving the strength of eddy–zonal mean flow feedbacks and jet persistence, and related changes in the synoptic eddy momentum flux, appear to explain this effect. The dependence of coupling between the stratospheric polar vortex and the troposphere on tropospheric jet latitude found here is consistent with 1) the observed variability in the North Atlantic and the North Pacific and 2) the trend in the Southern Hemisphere as projected by comprehensive models.

Corresponding author address: Chaim I. Garfinkel, Department of Earth and Planetary Science, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21209. E-mail: cig4@jhu.edu
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