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Arctic Stratosphere Dynamical Response to Global Warming

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  • 1 Arctic Research, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • 2 Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
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Abstract

The role of stationary planetary waves in the dynamical response of the Arctic winter stratosphere circulation to global warming is investigated here by analyzing simulations performed with atmosphere-only models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) driven by prescribed sea surface temperatures (SSTs). Climate models often simulate dynamical warming of the Arctic stratosphere as a response to global warming in association with a strengthening of the deep branch of the Brewer–Dobson circulation; however, until now, no satisfactory mechanism for such a response has been suggested. This study focuses on December–February (DJF) because this is the period when the troposphere and stratosphere are strongly coupled. When forced by increased SSTs, all the models analyzed here simulate Arctic stratosphere dynamical warming, mostly due to increased upward propagation of quasi-stationary wavenumber 1, as diagnosed by the meridional eddy heat flux. Further, it is shown that the stratospheric warming and increased wave flux to the stratosphere are related to the strengthening of the zonal winds in subtropics and midlatitudes near the tropopause. Evidence presented in this paper corroborate climate model simulations of future stratospheric changes and suggest a dynamical warming of the Arctic polar vortex as the most likely response to global warming.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0781.s1.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: A. Yu. Karpechko, alexey.karpechko@fmi.fi

Abstract

The role of stationary planetary waves in the dynamical response of the Arctic winter stratosphere circulation to global warming is investigated here by analyzing simulations performed with atmosphere-only models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) driven by prescribed sea surface temperatures (SSTs). Climate models often simulate dynamical warming of the Arctic stratosphere as a response to global warming in association with a strengthening of the deep branch of the Brewer–Dobson circulation; however, until now, no satisfactory mechanism for such a response has been suggested. This study focuses on December–February (DJF) because this is the period when the troposphere and stratosphere are strongly coupled. When forced by increased SSTs, all the models analyzed here simulate Arctic stratosphere dynamical warming, mostly due to increased upward propagation of quasi-stationary wavenumber 1, as diagnosed by the meridional eddy heat flux. Further, it is shown that the stratospheric warming and increased wave flux to the stratosphere are related to the strengthening of the zonal winds in subtropics and midlatitudes near the tropopause. Evidence presented in this paper corroborate climate model simulations of future stratospheric changes and suggest a dynamical warming of the Arctic polar vortex as the most likely response to global warming.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0781.s1.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: A. Yu. Karpechko, alexey.karpechko@fmi.fi

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