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M. L. R. Liberato
J. M. Castanheira
L. de la Torre
C. C. DaCamara
, and
L. Gimeno


A study is performed on the energetics of planetary wave forcing associated with the variability of the northern winter polar vortex. The analysis relies on a three-dimensional normal mode expansion of the atmospheric general circulation that allows partitioning the total (i.e., kinetic + available potential) atmospheric energy into the energy associated with Rossby and inertio-gravity modes with barotropic and baroclinic vertical structures. The analysis mainly departs from traditional ones in respect to the wave forcing, which is here assessed in terms of total energy amounts associated with the waves instead of heat and momentum fluxes. Such an approach provides a sounder framework than traditional ones based on Eliassen–Palm (EP) flux diagnostics of wave propagation and related concepts of refractive indices and critical lines, which are strictly valid only in the cases of small-amplitude waves and in the context of the Wentzel–Kramers–Brillouin–Jeffries (WKBJ) approximation.

Positive (negative) anomalies of the energy associated with the first two baroclinic modes of the planetary Rossby wave with zonal wavenumber 1 are followed by a downward progression of negative (positive) anomalies of the vortex strength. A signature of the vortex vacillation is also well apparent in the lagged correlation curves between the wave energy and the vortex strength. The analysis of the correlations between individual Rossby modes and the vortex strength further confirmed the result from linear theory that the waves that force the vortex are those associated with the largest zonal and meridional scales.

The two composite analyses of displacement- and split-type stratospheric sudden warming (SSW) events have revealed different dynamics. Displacement-type SSWs are forced by positive anomalies of the energy associated with the first two baroclinic modes of planetary Rossby waves with zonal wavenumber 1; split-type SSWs are in turn forced by positive anomalies of the energy associated with the planetary Rossby wave with zonal wavenumber 2, and the barotropic mode appears as the most important component. In respect to stratospheric final warming (SFW) events, obtained results suggest that the wave dynamics is similar to the one in displacement-type SSW events.

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