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David W. J. Thompson
Mark P. Baldwin
, and
Susan Solomon


This study examines the temporal evolution of the tropospheric circulation following large-amplitude variations in the strength of the Southern Hemisphere (SH) stratospheric polar vortex in data from 1979 to 2001 and following the SH sudden stratospheric warming of 2002. In both cases, anomalies in the strength of the SH stratospheric polar vortex precede similarly signed anomalies in the tropospheric circulation that persist for more than 2 months. The SH tropospheric circulation anomalies reflect a bias in the polarity of the SH annular mode (SAM), a large-scale pattern of climate variability characterized by fluctuations in the strength of the SH circumpolar flow. Consistent with the climate impacts of the SAM, variations in the stratospheric polar vortex are also followed by coherent changes in surface temperatures throughout much of Antarctica. The results add to a growing body of evidence that suggests that stratospheric variability plays an important role in driving climate variability at Earth’s surface on a range of time scales.

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