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Alan O'Neill, William L. Grose, Victoria D. Pope, Hector Maclean, and Richard Swinbank


Meteorological analyses, produced at the U.K. Meteorological Office by data assimilation, are used to study the circulation of the stratosphere in the Northern Hemisphere during winter 1991/92. The analyses are supplemented by Lagrangian visualizations of the circulation. The main features discussed are 1) the changes in vertical structure of the circulation, 2) the merger of anticyclones that precipitated a strong stratospheric warming, 3) vortex roll up in the upper stratosphere, 4) the entrainment of air into the polar vortex in the middle and upper stratosphere, and 5) the influence of tropospheric blocking on the lower stratosphere. The study provides a meteorological basis for the interpretation of data from the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite.

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Rowan T. Sutton, Hector Maclean, Richard Swinbank, Alan O'Neill, and F. W. Taylor


A technique is introduced by which high-resolution tracer fields may be constructed from low-resolution satellite observations. The technique relies upon the continual cascade of tracer variance from large to small scales and makes use of wind fields generated by a data assimilation scheme. To demonstrate its usefulness, the technique has been applied in a study of isentropic distributions of nitrous oxide in the winter midstratosphere, using measurements made by the Improved Stratospheric and Mesospheric Sounder instrument on the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite. The results show that the high-resolution fields significantly increase the amount of information that is available from the satellite observations. The fields give insights into the characteristic structure and evolution of tracer distributions at scales that are normally obscured from view. Two results are particularly noteworthy. First, at the interface between low and middle latitudes there is evidence of active mixing. This mixing occurs on the eastern, equatorward side of air that is being drawn toward high latitudes around the polar vortex. Second, in the anticyclone, a complex pattern of transport is revealed. Air drawn in from low latitudes spirals together with ambient midlatitude air. Small scales are generated relatively slowly in the organized flow, and persistent filamentary structures, with transverse scales of hundreds of kilometers or greater, are seen.

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