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Lawrence Coy, Krzysztof Wargan, Andrea M. Molod, William R. McCarty, and Steven Pawson

Abstract

The structure, dynamics, and ozone signal of the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) produced by the 35-yr NASA Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications, version 2 (MERRA-2), are examined based on monthly mean output. Along with the analysis of the QBO in assimilation winds and ozone, the QBO forcings created by assimilated observations, dynamics, parameterized gravity wave drag (GWD), and ozone chemistry parameterization are examined and compared with the original MERRA system. Results show that MERRA-2 produces a realistic QBO in the zonal winds, mean meridional circulation, and ozone over the 1980–2015 time period. In particular, the MERRA-2 zonal winds show improved representation of the QBO 50-hPa westerly phase amplitude at Singapore when compared to MERRA. The use of limb ozone observations creates improved vertical structure and realistic downward propagation of the ozone QBO signal during times when the MLS ozone limb observations are available (from October 2004 to present). The increased equatorial GWD in MERRA-2 has reduced the zonal wind data analysis contribution compared to MERRA so that the QBO mean meridional circulation can be expected to be more physically forced and therefore more physically consistent. This can be important for applications in which MERRA-2 winds are used to drive transport experiments.

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Krzysztof Wargan and Lawrence Coy

Abstract

The behavior of the tropopause inversion layer (TIL) during the 2009 sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) is analyzed using NASA’s Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications, version 2 (MERRA-2), and short-term simulations with the MERRA-2 general circulation model. Consistent with previous studies, it is found that static stability in a shallow layer above the polar tropopause sharply increases following the SSW, leading to a strengthening of the high-latitude TIL. Simultaneously, the height of the thermal tropopause decreases by around 1 km. Similar behavior is also detected during other major SSW events between the years 2004 and 2013. Using an ensemble of general circulation model forecasts initialized from MERRA-2, it is demonstrated that the primary cause of the strengthening of the TIL is an increased convergence of the vertical component of the stratospheric residual circulation in response to an SSW-induced acceleration of the mean downward motion between 75° and 90°N. In addition, ~6% of the strengthening in 2009 is attributed to an enhanced anticyclonic circulation at the tropopause. A preliminary analysis indicates that during other recent SSW events there was a significant increase in the convergence of the vertical residual wind velocity throughout the middle and lower stratosphere. The static stability increase simulated by the model during the 2009 SSW is 60%–80% of that seen in MERRA-2. The underestimate is traced back to a tendency for the forecasts to underestimate the resolved planetary wave forcing on the stratosphere compared to the reanalysis.

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