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Ping-Ping Rong and Darryn W. Waugh

Abstract

The evolution of the polar vortex in a shallow-water model with time-independent topographic forcing and relaxation to a constant equilibrium state is investigated for a range of topographic forcing amplitudes. For small forcing amplitudes there are only weak disturbances on the edge of the polar vortex and the vortex area remains constant, whereas for large amplitudes there are cycles where the vortex breaks down and then reforms (and zonal winds vacillate between westerlies and easterlies). Analysis of the mass within potential vorticity (PV) contours shows that these vacillations are due to out-of-phase variations in the mass fluxes across PV contours due to the relaxation and to hyperdiffusion. During the strong vortex stages Rossby wave breaking produces a cascade of PV to small scales, and these small-scale features are eventually eliminated by hyperdiffusion. This causes a decrease in the mass within the high PV contours and ultimately the destruction of the vortex. In contrast, during stages with no vortex there are very weak PV gradients, weak Rossby wave activity, and little cascade of PV to small scales. The vortex, and PV gradients, are then reestablished by the mass fluxes due to the diabatic relaxation term. These results suggest that the horizontal PV structure may play an important role in the vortex breakdown and recovery in three-dimensional models and in the real stratosphere.

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Andrea Molod, Haydee Salmun, and Darryn W. Waugh

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Heterogeneities in the land surface exist on a wide range of spatial scales and make the coupling between the land surface and the overlying boundary layer complex. This study investigates the vertical extent to which the surface heterogeneities affect the boundary layer turbulence. A technique called “extended mosaic” is presented. It models the coupling between the heterogeneous land surface and the atmosphere by allowing the impact of the subgrid-scale variability to extend throughout the vertical extent of the planetary boundary layer. Simulations with extended mosaic show that there is a GCM level at which the distinct character of the turbulence over different land scene types is homogenized, which the authors call the model blending height. The behavior of the model blending height is an indicator of the mechanism by which the surface heterogeneities extend their direct influence upward into the boundary layer and exert their influence on the climate system. Results are presented that show the behavior of the model blending height and the relationships to atmospheric and surface conditions. The model blending height is generally one-third to one-half of the planetary boundary layer height, although the exact ratio varies with local conditions and the distribution of the underlying vegetation. The model blending height also increases with canopy temperature and sensible heat flux and is influenced by the amount of variability in the surface vegetation and the presence of deciduous trees.

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Lorenzo M. Polvani and Darryn W. Waugh

Abstract

It has recently been shown that extreme stratospheric events (ESEs) are followed by surface weather anomalies (for up to 60 days), suggesting that stratospheric variability might be used to extend weather prediction beyond current time scales. In this paper, attention is drawn away from the stratosphere to demonstrate that the originating point of ESEs is located in the troposphere. First, it is shown that anomalously strong eddy heat fluxes at 100 hPa nearly always precede weak vortex events, and conversely, anomalously weak eddy heat fluxes precede strong vortex events, consistent with wave–mean flow interaction theory. This finding clarifies the dynamical nature of ESEs and suggests that a major source of stratospheric variability (and thus predictability) is located in the troposphere below and not in the stratosphere itself. Second, it is shown that the daily time series of eddy heat flux found at 100 hPa and integrated over the prior 40 days, exhibit a remarkably high anticorrelation (−0.8) with the Arctic Oscillation (AO) index at 10 hPa. Following Baldwin and Dunkerton, it is then demonstrated that events with anomalously strong (weak) integrated eddy heat fluxes at 100 hPa are followed by anomalously large (small) surface values of the AO index up to 60 days following each event. This suggests that the stratosphere is unlikely to be the dominant source of the anomalous surface weather regimes discussed in Thompson et al.

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Chaim I. Garfinkel and Darryn W. Waugh
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Chaim I. Garfinkel and Darryn W. Waugh

Abstract

A dry general circulation model is used to investigate the connections between Rossby wave breaking and the latitude of the midlatitude tropospheric eddy-driven jet. An ensemble of experiments is constructed in which the jet latitude is influenced by a midlatitude tropospheric temperature anomaly that resembles observed climate change and by the imposition of a stratospheric polar vortex, and the distribution of Rossby wave breaking frequency is examined for each experiment. The shift in wave breaking per degree latitude of jet shift is then compared for three different sources of jet movement: the tropospheric baroclinic forcing imposed in midlatitudes, the imposition of a stratospheric polar vortex, and the internal variability of the midlatitude eddy-driven jet. It is demonstrated that all three sources of jet movement produce a similar change in Rossby wave breaking frequency per degree of jet shift. Hence, it is difficult (if not impossible) to isolate the ultimate cause behind the shift in Rossby wave breaking in response to the two external forcings.

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Darryn W. Waugh and William J. Randel

Abstract

The climatological structure, and interannual variability, of the Arctic and Antarctic stratospheric polar vortices are examined by analysis of elliptical diagnostics applied to over 19 yr of potential vorticity data. The elliptical diagnostics define the area, center, elongation, and orientation of each vortex and are used to quantify their structure and evolution. The diagnostics offer a novel view of the well-known differences in the climatological structure of the polar vortices. Although both vortices form in autumn to early winter, the Arctic vortex has a shorter life span and breaks down over a month before the Antarctic vortex. There are substantial differences in the distortion of the vortices from zonal symmetry; the Arctic vortex is displaced farther off the pole and is more elongated than the Antarctic vortex. While there is a midwinter minimum in the distortion of the Antarctic vortex, the distortion of the Arctic vortex increases during its life cycle. There are also large differences in the interannual variability of the vortices: the variability of the Antarctic vortex is small except during the spring vortex breakdown, whereas the Arctic vortex is highly variable throughout its life cycle, particularly in late winter. The diagnostics also reveal features not apparent in previous studies. There are periods when there are large zonal shifts (westward then eastward) in the climatological locations of the vortices: early winter for the Arctic vortex, and late winter to spring for the Antarctic vortex. Also, there are two preferred longitudes of the center of the lower-stratospheric Arctic vortex in early winter, and the vortex may move rapidly from one to the other. In the middle and upper stratosphere large displacements off the pole and large elongation of the vortex are both associated with a small vortex area, but there is very little correlation between displacement off the pole and elongation of the vortex.

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Hong Zhang, Thomas W. N. Haine, and Darryn W. Waugh

Abstract

The relationships between different tracer ages and between tracer age and potential vorticity are examined by simulating barotropic double-gyre circulations. The unsteady model flow crudely represents aspects of the midlatitude, middepth ocean circulation including inhomogeneous and anisotropic variability. Temporal variations range in scale from weeks to years, although the statistics are stationary. These variations have a large impact on the time-averaged tracer age fields. Transport properties of the tracer age fields that have been proved for steady flow are shown to also apply to unsteady flow and are illustrated in this circulation. Variability of tracer ages from ideal age tracer, linear, and exponential transient tracers is highly coordinated in phase and amplitude and is explained using simple theory. These relationships between different tracer ages are of practical benefit to the problem of interpreting tracer ages from the real ocean or from general circulation models. There is also a close link between temporal anomalies of tracer age and potential vorticity throughout a significant fraction of the domain. There are highly significant anticorrelations between ideal age and potential vorticity in the subtropical gyre and midbasin jet region, but correlation in the central subpolar gyre and eastern part of the domain is not significant. The existence of the relationship is insensitive to the character of the flow, the tracer sources, and the potential vorticity dynamics. Its structure may be understood by considering the different time-mean states of the tracer age and potential vorticity, the different tracer sources and sinks, and the effect of variability in the flow. Prediction of the correlation without knowledge of the time-mean fields is a harder problem, however. Detecting the correlation between potential vorticity and tracer age in the real ocean will be difficult with typical synoptic oceanographic transect data that are well-sampled in space, but sparse in time. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to suppose the correlation exists in some places.

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Lei Wang, Paul J. Kushner, and Darryn W. Waugh

Abstract

The Southern Hemisphere (SH) stratospheric stationary wave amplitude increased significantly in late spring and early summer during the last two decades of the twentieth century. A suite of chemistry climate model simulations are examined to explore the underlying cause and the separate effects of anthropogenic forcing from ozone depleting substances (ODSs) and greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the past and projected SH stationary wave evolution. The model simulations produce trends in the wave amplitude similar to that observed, although somewhat weaker. In simulations with changing ODSs, this increase in amplitude is reproduced during the ozone depletion period and is reversed during the ozone recovery period. This response is related to changes in the strength and timing of the breakdown of the SH polar vortex associated with ozone depletion and recovery. GHG increases have little impact on the simulated stratospheric stationary wave amplitude but are projected to induce an eastward phase shift of the waves. This phase shift is linked to the strengthening of the subtropical jets driven by GHG forcing via sea surface warming.

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William J. M. Seviour, Darryn W. Waugh, and Richard K. Scott

Abstract

The Martian polar atmosphere is known to have a persistent local minimum in potential vorticity (PV) near the winter pole, with a region of high PV encircling it. This finding is surprising, since an isolated band of PV is barotropically unstable, a result going back to Rayleigh. Here the stability of a Mars-like annular vortex is investigated using numerical integrations of the rotating shallow-water equations. The mode of instability and its growth rate is shown to depend upon the latitude and width of the annulus. By introducing thermal relaxation toward an annular equilibrium profile with a time scale similar to that of the instability, a persistent annular vortex with similar characteristics as that observed in the Martian atmosphere can be simulated. This time scale, typically 0.5–2 sols, is similar to radiative relaxation time scales for Mars’s polar atmosphere. The persistence of an annular vortex is also shown to be robust to topographic forcing, as long as it is below a certain amplitude. It is therefore proposed that the persistence of this barotropically unstable annular vortex is permitted owing to the combination of short radiative relaxation time scales and relatively weak topographic forcing in the Martian polar atmosphere.

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William J. M. Seviour, Anand Gnanadesikan, and Darryn W. Waugh

Abstract

Recent studies have suggested that the response of the Southern Ocean to stratospheric ozone depletion is nonmonotonic in time; consisting of an initial cooling followed by a long-term warming. This result may be significant for the attribution of observed Southern Ocean temperature and sea ice trends, but the time scale and magnitude of the response is poorly constrained, with a wide spread among climate models. Furthermore, a long-lived initial cooling period has only been observed in a model with idealized geometry and lacking an explicit representation of ozone. Here the authors calculate the transient response of the Southern Ocean to a step-change in ozone in a comprehensive coupled climate model, GFDL-ESM2Mc. The Southern Ocean responds to ozone depletion with an initial cooling, lasting 25 yr, followed by a warming. The authors extend previous studies to investigate the dependence of the response on the ozone forcing as well as the regional pattern of this response. The response of the Southern Ocean relative to natural variability is shown to be largely independent of the initial state. However, the magnitude of this response is much less than that of natural variability found in the model, which limits its influence and detectability.

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