Stratospheric and Tropospheric Flux Contributions to the Polar Cap Energy Budgets

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York
  • 2 Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
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Abstract

The flux of moist static energy into the polar regions plays a key role in the energy budget and climate of the polar regions. While usually studied from a vertically integrated perspective (Fwall), this analysis examines its vertical structure, using the NASA-MERRA-2 reanalysis to compute climatological and anomalous fluxes of sensible, latent, and potential energy across 70°N and 65°S for the period 1980–2016. The vertical structure of the climatological flux is bimodal, with peaks in the mid- to lower-troposphere and mid- to upper-stratosphere. The near zero flux at the tropopause defines the boundary between stratospheric (Fstrat) and tropospheric (Ftrop) contributions to Fwall. Especially at 70°N, Fstrat is found to be important to the climatology and variability of Fwall, contributing 20.9 Wm−2 to Fwall (19% of Fwall) during the winter and explaining 23% of the variance of Fwall. During winter, an anomalous poleward increase in Fstrat preceding a sudden stratospheric warming is followed by an increase in outgoing longwave radiation anomalies, with little influence on the surface energy budget of the Arctic. Conversely, a majority of the energy input by an anomalous poleward increase in Ftrop goes toward warming the Arctic surface. Ftrop is found to be a better metric than Fwall for evaluating the influence of atmospheric circulations on the Arctic surface climate.

Corresponding author: Christopher J. Cardinale, ccardinale@albany.edu

Abstract

The flux of moist static energy into the polar regions plays a key role in the energy budget and climate of the polar regions. While usually studied from a vertically integrated perspective (Fwall), this analysis examines its vertical structure, using the NASA-MERRA-2 reanalysis to compute climatological and anomalous fluxes of sensible, latent, and potential energy across 70°N and 65°S for the period 1980–2016. The vertical structure of the climatological flux is bimodal, with peaks in the mid- to lower-troposphere and mid- to upper-stratosphere. The near zero flux at the tropopause defines the boundary between stratospheric (Fstrat) and tropospheric (Ftrop) contributions to Fwall. Especially at 70°N, Fstrat is found to be important to the climatology and variability of Fwall, contributing 20.9 Wm−2 to Fwall (19% of Fwall) during the winter and explaining 23% of the variance of Fwall. During winter, an anomalous poleward increase in Fstrat preceding a sudden stratospheric warming is followed by an increase in outgoing longwave radiation anomalies, with little influence on the surface energy budget of the Arctic. Conversely, a majority of the energy input by an anomalous poleward increase in Ftrop goes toward warming the Arctic surface. Ftrop is found to be a better metric than Fwall for evaluating the influence of atmospheric circulations on the Arctic surface climate.

Corresponding author: Christopher J. Cardinale, ccardinale@albany.edu
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