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Yoshio Kawatani, Jae N. Lee, and Kevin Hamilton

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By analyzing the almost-decade-long record of water vapor measurements from the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) instrument on the NASA Aura satellite and by detailed diagnostic analysis of the results from state-of-the art climate model simulations, this study confirmed the conceptual picture of the interannual variation in equatorial stratospheric water vapor discussed in earlier papers (e.g., Geller et al.). The interannual anomalies in water vapor are strongly related to the dynamical quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO), and this study presents the first QBO composite of the time–height structure of the equatorial water vapor anomalies. The anomalies display upward propagation below about 10 hPa in a manner analogous to the annual “tape recorder” effect, but at higher levels they show clear downward propagation. This study examined these variations in the Model for Interdisciplinary Research on Climate (MIROC)-AGCM and in four models in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) that simulate realistic QBOs. Diagnostic budget analysis of the MIROC-AGCM data and comparisons among the CMIP5 model results demonstrate (i) the importance of temperature anomalies at the tropopause induced by the QBO for lower-stratospheric water vapor variations and (ii) that upper-stratospheric water vapor anomalies are largely driven by advection of the mean vertical gradient of water content by the QBO interannual fluctuations in the vertical wind.

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Yoshio Kawatani, Kevin Hamilton, and Shingo Watanabe

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The effects of anticipated twenty-first-century global climate change on the stratospheric quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) have been studied using a high-resolution version of the Model for Interdisciplinary Research on Climate (MIROC) atmospheric GCM. This version of the model is notable for being able to simulate a fairly realistic QBO for present-day conditions including only explicitly resolved nonstationary waves. A long control integration of the model was run with observed climatological sea surface temperatures (SSTs) appropriate for the late twentieth century, followed by another integration with increased atmospheric CO2 concentration and SSTs incremented by the projected twenty-first-century warming in a multimodel ensemble of coupled ocean–atmosphere runs that were forced by the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A1B scenario of future atmospheric composition. In the experiment for late twenty-first-century conditions the QBO period becomes longer and QBO amplitude weaker than in the late twentieth-century simulation. The downward penetration of the QBO into the lowermost stratosphere is also curtailed in the late twenty-first-century run. These changes are driven by a significant (30%–40%) increase of the mean upwelling in the equatorial stratosphere, and the effect of this enhanced mean circulation overwhelms counteracting influences from strengthened wave fluxes in the warmer climate. The momentum fluxes associated with waves propagating upward into the equatorial stratosphere do strengthen overall by ∼(10%–15%) in the warm simulation, but the increases are almost entirely in zonal phase speed ranges that have little effect on the stratospheric QBO but that would be expected to have important influences in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere.

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Yoshio Kawatani, Kevin Hamilton, and Akira Noda

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The effects of sea surface temperature (SST) and CO2 on future changes in the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) are investigated using a climate model that simulates the QBO without parameterized nonstationary gravity wave forcing. Idealized model experiments using the future SST with the present CO2 (FS run) and the present SST with the future CO2 (FC run) are conducted, as are experiments using the present SST with the present CO2 (present run) and the future SST with the future CO2 (future run). When compared with the present run, precipitation increases around the equatorial region in the FS run and decreases in the FC run, resulting in increased and decreased wave momentum fluxes, respectively. In the midlatitude lower stratosphere, westward (eastward) wave-forcing anomalies form in the FS (FC) run. In the middle stratosphere off the equator, westward wave-forcing anomalies form in both the FS and FC runs. Corresponding to these wave-forcing anomalies, the residual vertical velocity significantly increases in the lower stratosphere in the FS run but decreases to below 70 hPa in the FC run, whereas residual upward circulation anomalies form in both the FS and FC runs in the middle equatorial stratosphere. Consequently, the amplitude of the QBO becomes smaller in the lower stratosphere, and the period of the QBO becomes longer by about 1–3 months in the FS run. On the other hand, in the FC run, the QBO extends farther downward into the lowermost stratosphere, and the period becomes longer by 1 month.

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Kaoru Sato, Satoshi Tateno, Shingo Watanabe, and Yoshio Kawatani

Abstract

Gravity wave characteristics in the middle- to high-latitude Southern Hemisphere are analyzed using simulation data over 3 yr from a high-resolution middle-atmosphere general circulation model without using any gravity wave parameterizations. Gravity waves have large amplitudes in winter and are mainly distributed in the region surrounding the polar vortex in the middle and upper stratosphere, while the gravity wave energy is generally weak in summer. The wave energy distribution in winter is not zonally uniform, but it is large leeward of the southern Andes and Antarctic Peninsula. Linear theory in the three-dimensional framework indicates that orographic gravity waves are advected leeward significantly by the mean wind component perpendicular to the wavenumber vector. Results of ray-tracing and cross-correlation analyses are consistent with this theoretical expectation. The leeward energy propagation extends to several thousand kilometers, which explains part of the gravity wave distribution around the polar vortex in winter. This result indicates that orographic gravity waves can affect the mean winds at horizontal locations that are far distant from the source mountains. Another interesting feature is a significant downward energy flux in winter, which is observed in the lower stratosphere to the south of the southern Andes. The frequency of the downward energy flux is positively correlated with the gravity wave energy over the southern Andes. Partial reflection from a rapid increase in static stability around 10 hPa and/or gravity wave generation through nonlinear processes are possible mechanisms to explain the downward energy flux.

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Kazuyuki Miyazaki, Shingo Watanabe, Yoshio Kawatani, Kaoru Sato, Yoshihiro Tomikawa, and Masaaki Takahashi

Abstract

The relative roles of atmospheric motions on various scales, from mesoscale to planetary scale, in transport and mixing in the extratropical tropopause region are investigated using a high-vertical-resolution general circulation model (GCM). The GCM with a vertical resolution of about 300 m explicitly represents the propagation and breaking of gravity waves and the induced transport and mixing. A downward control calculation shows that the Eliassen–Palm (E-P) flux of the gravity waves diverges and induces a mean equatorward flow in the extratropical tropopause region, which differs from the mean poleward flow induced by the convergence of large-scale E-P fluxes. The diffusion coefficients estimated from the eddy potential vorticity flux in tropopause-based coordinates reveal that isentropic motions diffuse air between 20 K below and 10 K above the tropopause from late autumn to early spring, while vertical mixing is strongly suppressed at around 10–15 K above the tropopause throughout the year. The isentropic mixing is mainly caused by planetary- and synoptic-scale motions, while small-scale motions with a horizontal scale of less than a few thousand kilometers largely affect the three-dimensional mixing just above the tropopause. Analysis of the gravity wave energy and atmospheric instability implies that the small-scale dynamics associated with the dissipation and saturation of gravity waves is a significant cause of the three-dimensional mixing just above the tropopause. A rapid increase in the static stability in the tropopause inversion layer is considered to play an important role in controlling the gravity wave activity around the tropopause.

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Simon P. Alexander, Kaoru Sato, Shingo Watanabe, Yoshio Kawatani, and Damian J. Murphy

Abstract

Southern Hemisphere extratropical gravity wave activity is examined using simulations from a free-running middle-atmosphere general circulation model called Kanto that contains no gravity wave parameterizations. The total absolute gravity wave momentum flux (MF) and its intermittency, diagnosed by the Gini coefficient, are examined during January and July. The MF and intermittency results calculated from the Kanto model agree well with results from satellite limb and superpressure balloon observations. The analysis of the Kanto model simulations indicates the following results. Nonorographic gravity waves are generated in Kanto in the frontal regions of extratropical depressions and around tropopause-level jets. Regions with lower (higher) intermittency in the July midstratosphere become more (less) intermittent by the mesosphere as a result of lower-level wave removal. The gravity wave intermittency is low and nearly homogeneous throughout the SH middle atmosphere during January. This indicates that nonorographic waves dominate at this time of year, with sources including continental convection as well as oceanic depressions. Most of the zonal-mean MF at 40°–65°S in January and July is due to gravity waves located above the oceans. The zonal-mean MF at lower latitudes in both months has a larger contribution from the land regions but the fraction above the oceans remains larger.

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Yoshio Kawatani, Kevin Hamilton, Kaoru Sato, Timothy J. Dunkerton, Shingo Watanabe, and Kazuyoshi Kikuchi

Abstract

Observational studies have shown that, on average, the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) exhibits a faster phase progression and shorter period during El Niño than during La Niña. Here, the possible mechanism of QBO modulation associated with ENSO is investigated using the MIROC-AGCM with T106 (~1.125°) horizontal resolution. The MIROC-AGCM simulates QBO-like oscillations without any nonorographic gravity wave parameterizations. A 100-yr integration was conducted during which annually repeating sea surface temperatures based on the composite observed El Niño conditions were imposed. A similar 100-yr La Niña integration was also conducted. The MIROC-AGCM simulates realistic differences between El Niño and La Niña, notably shorter QBO periods, a weaker Walker circulation, and more equatorial precipitation during El Niño than during La Niña. Near the equator, vertical wave fluxes of zonal momentum in the uppermost troposphere are larger and the stratospheric QBO forcing due to interaction of the mean flow with resolved gravity waves (particularly for zonal wavenumber ≥43) is much larger during El Niño. The tropical upwelling associated with the Brewer–Dobson circulation is also stronger in the El Niño simulation. The effects of the enhanced tropical upwelling during El Niño are evidently overcome by enhanced wave driving, resulting in the shorter QBO period. The integrations were repeated with another model version (MIROC-ECM with T42 horizontal resolution) that employs a parameterization of nonorographic gravity waves in order to simulate a QBO. In the MIROC-ECM the average QBO periods are nearly identical in the El Niño and La Niña simulations.

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Yoshio Kawatani, Shingo Watanabe, Kaoru Sato, Timothy J. Dunkerton, Saburo Miyahara, and Masaaki Takahashi

Abstract

Three-dimensional wave forcing of simulated quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) is investigated using a high-resolution atmospheric general circulation model with T213L256 resolution (60-km horizontal and 300-m vertical resolution). In both the eastward and westward wind shear phases of the QBO, nearly all Eliassen–Palm flux (EP flux) divergence due to internal inertia–gravity waves (defined as fluctuations with zonal wavenumber ≥12) results from the divergence of the vertical component of the flux. On the other hand, EP flux divergence due to equatorial trapped waves (EQWs) results from both the meridional and vertical components of the flux in regions of strong vertical wind shear. Longitudinal dependence of wave forcing is also investigated by three-dimensional wave activity flux applicable to gravity waves. Near the top of the Walker circulation, strong eastward (westward) wave forcing occurs in the Eastern (Western) Hemisphere due to internal inertia–gravity waves with small horizontal phase speed. In the eastward wind shear zone associated with the QBO, the eastward wave forcing due to internal inertia–gravity waves in the Eastern Hemisphere is much larger than that in the Western Hemisphere, whereas in the westward wind shear zone, westward wave forcing does not vary much in the zonal direction. Zonal variation of wave forcing in the stratosphere results from (i) zonal variation of wave sources, (ii) the vertically sheared zonal winds associated with the Walker circulation, and (iii) the phase of the QBO.

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Kazuyuki Miyazaki, Shingo Watanabe, Yoshio Kawatani, Yoshihiro Tomikawa, Masaaki Takahashi, and Kaoru Sato

Abstract

A high-vertical-resolution general circulation model (GCM) output has been analyzed to clarify transport and mixing processes in the extratropical tropopause region. The high-resolution GCM, with a vertical resolution of about 300 m above the extratropical upper troposphere, allows simulation of fine atmospheric structures near the tropopause, such as the extratropical tropopause transition layer (ExTL) and the tropopause inversion layer (TIL). The high-resolution GCM realistically simulates fine thermal and dynamic structures in the extratropical tropopause region. The thickness and maximum stability of the simulated TIL are consistent with observations. The high-resolution output was analyzed using a zonal mean potential vorticity (PV) equation to identify dominant transport processes in the extratropical tropopause region. In the Northern Hemisphere extratropics during winter, mean downward advection sharpens the PV gradient between the tropopause and 20 K below it, whereas latitudinal variation in isentropic mixing sharpens the vertical PV gradient between the tropopause and 10 K above it. During summer, vertical mixing substantially sharpens the vertical PV gradient at 10–25 K above the tropopause. These sharpening effects may be strongly related to the formation mechanisms of strong concentration gradients of chemical tracers around the ExTL. Mechanisms of evolution of the TIL are also discussed by analyzing a thermodynamic equation. Downward heat advection and radiation processes primarily determine the seasonality of the TIL. The analysis results suggest that the locations of the TIL and the ExTL can be similar because of common dynamic processes and interactions between constituent distributions and thermal structure.

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Yoshio Kawatani, Shingo Watanabe, Kaoru Sato, Timothy J. Dunkerton, Saburo Miyahara, and Masaaki Takahashi

Abstract

The roles of equatorial trapped waves (EQWs) and internal inertia–gravity waves in driving the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) are investigated using a high-resolution atmospheric general circulation model with T213L256 resolution (60-km horizontal and 300-m vertical resolution) integrated for three years. The model, which does not use a gravity wave drag parameterization, simulates a QBO. Although the simulated QBO has a shorter period than that of the real atmosphere, its amplitudes and structure in the lower stratosphere are fairly realistic. The zonal wavenumber/frequency spectra of simulated outgoing longwave radiation represent realistic signals of convectively coupled EQWs. Clear signals of EQWs are also seen in the stratospheric wind components. In the eastward wind shear of the QBO, eastward EQWs including Kelvin waves contribute up to ∼25%–50% to the driving of the QBO. The peaks of eastward wave forcing associated with EQWs and internal inertia–gravity waves occur at nearly the same time at the same altitude. On the other hand, westward EQWs contribute up to ∼10% to driving the QBO during the weak westward wind phase but make almost zero contribution during the relatively strong westward wind phase. Extratropical Rossby waves propagating into the equatorial region contribute ∼10%–25%, whereas internal inertia–gravity waves with zonal wavelength ≲1000 km are the main contributors to the westward wind shear phase of the simulated QBO.

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