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Observed Changes in the Southern Hemispheric Circulation in May

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  • 1 Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • | 2 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
  • | 3 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 4 Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University, New York, New York
  • | 5 Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
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Abstract

Much research has focused on trends in the Southern Hemispheric circulation in austral summer (December–February) in the troposphere and stratosphere, whereas changes in other seasons have received less attention. Here the seasonality and structure of observed changes in tropospheric and stratospheric winds, temperature, and ozone over the Southern Hemisphere are examined. It is found that statistically significant trends similar to those of the Antarctic summer season are also observed since 1979 in austral fall, particularly May, and are strongest over the Pacific sector of the hemisphere. Evidence is provided for a significant shift in the position of the jet in May over the Pacific, and it is shown that the strengthening and shifting of the jet has rendered the latitudinal distribution of upper-tropospheric zonal wind more bimodal. The Antarctic ozone hole has cooled the lower stratosphere and strengthened the polar vortex. While the mechanism and timing are not fully understood, the ozone hole has been identified as a key driver of the summer season tropospheric circulation changes in several previous observational and modeling studies. It is found here that significant ozone depletion and associated polar cooling also occur in the lowermost stratosphere and tropopause region through austral fall, with spatial patterns that are coincident with the observed changes in stratospheric circulation. It is also shown that radiatively driven temperature changes associated with the observed ozone depletion in May represent a substantial portion of the observed May cooling in the lowermost stratosphere, suggesting a potential for contribution to the circulation changes.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0394.s1.

Corresponding author address: Diane Ivy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Ave., 54-1710, Cambridge, MA 02139. E-mail: divy@mit.edu

Abstract

Much research has focused on trends in the Southern Hemispheric circulation in austral summer (December–February) in the troposphere and stratosphere, whereas changes in other seasons have received less attention. Here the seasonality and structure of observed changes in tropospheric and stratospheric winds, temperature, and ozone over the Southern Hemisphere are examined. It is found that statistically significant trends similar to those of the Antarctic summer season are also observed since 1979 in austral fall, particularly May, and are strongest over the Pacific sector of the hemisphere. Evidence is provided for a significant shift in the position of the jet in May over the Pacific, and it is shown that the strengthening and shifting of the jet has rendered the latitudinal distribution of upper-tropospheric zonal wind more bimodal. The Antarctic ozone hole has cooled the lower stratosphere and strengthened the polar vortex. While the mechanism and timing are not fully understood, the ozone hole has been identified as a key driver of the summer season tropospheric circulation changes in several previous observational and modeling studies. It is found here that significant ozone depletion and associated polar cooling also occur in the lowermost stratosphere and tropopause region through austral fall, with spatial patterns that are coincident with the observed changes in stratospheric circulation. It is also shown that radiatively driven temperature changes associated with the observed ozone depletion in May represent a substantial portion of the observed May cooling in the lowermost stratosphere, suggesting a potential for contribution to the circulation changes.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0394.s1.

Corresponding author address: Diane Ivy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Ave., 54-1710, Cambridge, MA 02139. E-mail: divy@mit.edu

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