The dynamics of the stratosphere sudden warming phenomenon is discussed in terms of the interaction of vertically propagating planetary waves with zonal winds. If global-scale disturbances are generated in the troposphere, they propagate upward into the stratosphere, where the waves act to decelerate the polar night jet through the induction of a meridional circulation. Thus, the distortion and the break-down of the polar vortex occur. If the disturbance is intense and persists, the westerly jet may eventually disappear and an easterly wind may replace it. Then “critical layer interaction” takes place. Further intensification of the easterly wind and rapid warming of the polar air are expected to occur as well as weakening of the disturbance. The model is verified by numerical integrations of the adiabatic-geostrophic potential vorticity equation. Computed results possess features similar to those observed in sudden warming phenomena.

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