Abstract

The role of gravity waves (GWs) in a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) event that occurred in January 2009 (SSW09) is investigated using the MERRA-2 reanalysis dataset. Nearly 2 weeks prior to the central date (Lag = 0), at which the zonal-mean zonal wind at 10 hPa and 60°N first becomes negative, westward GW drag (GWD) is significantly enhanced in the lower mesosphere and stratosphere. At 5 days before Lag = 0, planetary waves (PWs) of zonal wavenumber (ZWN)-2 in the stratosphere are enhanced, while PWs of ZWN-1 are weakened, which are evident from the amplitudes of the PWs and their Eliassen-Palm flux divergence (EPD). To examine the relationship between PWs and GWs, a nonconservative GWD (NCGWD) source term of the linearized quasi-geostrophic potential vorticity equation is considered. A ZWN-2 pattern of the NCGWD forcing is developed around z = 55–60 km with a secondary peak around z = 40 km just before the PWs of ZWN-2 in the stratosphere began to enhance. A significant positive correlation between the NCGWD forcing in the upper stratosphere and lower mesosphere (USLM; 0.3–0.1 hPa in the present data) and the PWs of ZWN-2 in the stratosphere (5–1 hPa) exists. This result demonstrates that the amplification of the PWs of ZWN-2 in the stratosphere before the onset of SSW09 is likely related to the generation of PWs by GWD in the USLM, which is revealed by the enhanced downward-propagating PWs of ZWN-2 into the stratosphere from above.

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