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Lawrence Coy, Paul A. Newman, Steven Pawson, and Leslie R. Lait

Abstract

A significant disruption of the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) occurred during the Northern Hemisphere (NH) winter of 2015/16. Since the QBO is the major wind variability source in the tropical lower stratosphere and influences the rate of ascent of air entering the stratosphere, understanding the cause of this singular disruption may provide new insights into the variability and sensitivity of the global climate system. Here this disruptive event is examined using global reanalysis winds and temperatures from 1980 to 2016. Results reveal record maxima in tropical horizontal momentum fluxes and wave forcing of the tropical zonal mean zonal wind over the NH 2015/16 winter. The Rossby waves responsible for these record tropical values appear to originate in the NH and were focused strongly into the tropics at the 40-hPa level. Two additional NH winters, 1987/88 and 2010/11, were also found to have large tropical lower-stratospheric momentum flux divergences; however, the QBO westerlies did not change to easterlies in those cases.

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David C. Fritts, Li Yuan, Matthew H. Hitchman, Lawrence Coy, Erhan Kudeki, and Ronald F. Woodman

Abstract

The Jicamarca MST radar was used in two campaigns during June and August 1987 to measure wave influences, flow variability, and mean structure in the equatorial stratosphere and mesosphere. This paper presents observations of motions and momentum fluxes in the mesosphere during each campaign. A companion paper by Hitchman et al. addresses the mean structure and fluxes as well as comparisons with other datasets. Results presented here indicate that the equatorial mesosphere is dynamically very active, with considerable gravity-wave and tidal motions and persuasive evidence of inertial instability and wave-filtering processes. Vertical velocities at high frequencies are comparable to those observed at other locations. Hourly mean horizontal motions and momentum fluxes are likewise large and variable, exhibiting enormous vertical shears and strong modulation of the wave spectrum and momentum fluxes at higher frequencies. Daily mean profiles reveal persistent structures with vertical scales of ∼6–10 km, vertical shears of the meridional velocity of ∼0.03 s−1, and large mean momentum fluxes. Also discussed are the implications of these observations for wave forcing and instability in the equatorial middle atmosphere.

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Matthew H. Hitchman, Kenneth W. Bywaters, David C. Fritts, Lawrence Coy, Erhan Kudeki, and Fahri Surucu

Abstract

Data from the mesosphere-stratosphere-troposphere (MST) radar at Jicamarca, Peru, together with other available data, are used to diagnose the mean structure of winds and gravity-wave momentum fluxes from the surface to 90 km during two ten-day campaigns in June and August of 1987.

In the stratosphere a layer of maximum eastward flow associated with the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) was seen to strengthen and descend rapidly from June to August, overlying persistent westward flow. A layer of enhanced signal return, suggestive of a turbulent layer, was observed just above the descending QBO eastward maximum. Notable zonal asymmetries were present during this transition and the local meridional circulation departed from zonal-mean QBO theory. A substantial northeastward momentum flux was found below 25 km, which may be related to topographic gravity waves excited by southeastward flow across the Andes.

In the lower mesosphere a relatively weak “second” mesopause semiannual oscillation is confirmed. Gravity-wave zonal and meridional momentum fluxes usually opposed the flow, yielding body forces of ∼10–100 m s−1 day−1. In both the lower stratosphere and mesosphere, body forces were comparable in magnitude to inferred Coriolis torques.

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Laura A. Holt, M. Joan Alexander, Lawrence Coy, Andrea Molod, William Putman, and Steven Pawson

Abstract

This study investigates tropical waves and their role in driving a quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO)-like signal in stratospheric winds in a global 7-km-horizontal-resolution atmospheric general circulation model. The Nature Run (NR) is a 2-yr global mesoscale simulation of the Goddard Earth Observing System Model, version 5 (GEOS-5). In the tropics, there is evidence that the NR supports a broad range of convectively generated waves. The NR precipitation spectrum resembles the observed spectrum in many aspects, including the preference for westward-propagating waves. However, even with very high horizontal resolution and a healthy population of resolved waves, the zonal force provided by the resolved waves is still too low in the QBO region and parameterized gravity wave drag is the main driver of the NR QBO-like oscillation (NR-QBO). The authors suggest that causes include coarse vertical resolution and excessive dissipation. Nevertheless, the very-high-resolution NR provides an opportunity to analyze the resolved wave forcing of the NR-QBO. In agreement with previous studies, large-scale Kelvin and small-scale waves contribute to the NR-QBO driving in eastward shear zones and small-scale waves dominate the NR-QBO driving in westward shear zones. Waves with zonal wavelength < 1000 km account for up to half of the small-scale (<3300 km) resolved wave forcing in eastward shear zones and up to 70% of the small-scale resolved wave forcing in westward shear zones of the NR-QBO.

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Xun Zhu, Jeng-Hwa Yee, William H. Swartz, Elsayed R. Talaat, and Lawrence Coy

Abstract

There are three distinct processes by which upward-propagating gravity waves influence the large-scale dynamics and energetics of the middle atmosphere: (i) nonlocalized transport of momentum through wave propagation in three dimensions that remotely redistributes atmospheric momentum in both zonal and meridional directions from wave generation to wave dissipation regions; (ii) localized diffusive transport of momentum, heat, and tracers due to mixing induced by wave breaking; and (iii) localized transport of heat by perturbing wave structures due to dissipation that redistributes the thermal energy within a finite domain. These effects become most significant for breaking waves when momentum drag, eddy diffusion, and wave heating— the “breaking trinity”—are all imposed on the background state. This paper develops a 3D parameterization scheme that self-consistently includes the breaking trinity in large-scale numerical models. The 3D parameterization scheme is developed based on the general relationship between the wave action flux and the subgrid-scale momentum and heat fluxes developed by Zhu in 1987 and a mapping approximation between the wave source spectrum and momentum deposition distribution developed by Alexander and Dunkerton in 1999. For a set of given input wind and temperature profiles at each model grid, the parameterization scheme outputs the vertical profiles of the subgrid-scale force terms together with the eddy diffusion coefficients in the momentum and energy equations for a 3D background flow.

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Lawrence Coy, Krzysztof Wargan, Andrea M. Molod, William R. McCarty, and Steven Pawson

Abstract

The structure, dynamics, and ozone signal of the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) produced by the 35-yr NASA Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications, version 2 (MERRA-2), are examined based on monthly mean output. Along with the analysis of the QBO in assimilation winds and ozone, the QBO forcings created by assimilated observations, dynamics, parameterized gravity wave drag (GWD), and ozone chemistry parameterization are examined and compared with the original MERRA system. Results show that MERRA-2 produces a realistic QBO in the zonal winds, mean meridional circulation, and ozone over the 1980–2015 time period. In particular, the MERRA-2 zonal winds show improved representation of the QBO 50-hPa westerly phase amplitude at Singapore when compared to MERRA. The use of limb ozone observations creates improved vertical structure and realistic downward propagation of the ozone QBO signal during times when the MLS ozone limb observations are available (from October 2004 to present). The increased equatorial GWD in MERRA-2 has reduced the zonal wind data analysis contribution compared to MERRA so that the QBO mean meridional circulation can be expected to be more physically forced and therefore more physically consistent. This can be important for applications in which MERRA-2 winds are used to drive transport experiments.

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Douglas R. Allen, Lawrence Coy, Stephen D. Eckermann, John P. McCormack, Gloria L. Manney, Timothy F. Hogan, and Young-Joon Kim

Abstract

A high-altitude version of the Navy Operational Global Atmospheric Prediction System (NOGAPS) spectral forecast model is used to simulate the unusual September 2002 Southern Hemisphere stratospheric major warming. Designated as NOGAPS-Advanced Level Physics and High Altitude (NOGAPS-ALPHA), this model extends from the surface to 0.005 hPa (∼85 km altitude) and includes modifications to multiple components of the operational NOGAPS system, including a new radiative heating scheme, middle-atmosphere gravity wave drag parameterizations, hybrid vertical coordinate, upper-level meteorological initialization, and radiatively active prognostic ozone with parameterized photochemistry. NOGAPS-ALPHA forecasts (hindcasts) out to 6 days capture the main features of the major warming, such as the zonal mean wind reversal, planetary-scale wave amplification, large upward Eliassen–Palm (EP) fluxes, and splitting of the polar vortex in the middle stratosphere. Forecasts beyond 6 days have reduced upward EP flux in the lower stratosphere, reduced amplitude of zonal wavenumbers 2 and 3, and a middle stratospheric vortex that does not split. Three-dimensional EP-flux diagnostics in the troposphere reveal that the longer forecasts underestimate upward-propagating planetary wave energy emanating from a significant blocking pattern over the South Atlantic that played a large role in forcing the major warming. Forecasts of less than 6 days are initialized with the blocking in place, and therefore are not required to predict the blocking onset. For a more thorough skill assessment, NOGAPS-ALPHA forecasts over 3 weeks during September–October 2002 are compared with operational NOGAPS 5-day forecasts made at the time. NOGAPS-ALPHA forecasts initialized with 2002 operational NOGAPS analyses show a modest improvement in skill over the NOGAPS operational forecasts. An additional, larger improvement is obtained when NOGAPS-ALPHA is initialized with reanalyzed 2002 fields produced with the currently operational (as of October 2003) Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Atmospheric Variational Data Assimilation System (NAVDAS). Thus the combination of higher model top, better physical parameterizations, and better initial conditions all yield improved forecasting skill over the NOGAPS forecasts issued operationally at the time.

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Karl W. Hoppel, Stephen D. Eckermann, Lawrence Coy, Gerald E. Nedoluha, Douglas R. Allen, Steven D. Swadley, and Nancy L. Baker

Abstract

Upper atmosphere sounding (UAS) channels of the Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder (SSMIS) were assimilated using a high-altitude version of the Navy Global Environmental Model (NAVGEM) in order to investigate their potential for operational forecasting from the surface to the mesospause. UAS radiances were assimilated into NAVGEM using the new Community Radiative Transfer Model (CRTM) that accounts for Zeeman line splitting by geomagnetic fields. UAS radiance data from April 2010 to March 2011 are shown to be in good agreement with coincident temperature measurements from the Sounding of the Atmosphere Using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) instrument that were used to simulate UAS brightness temperatures. Four NAVGEM experiments were performed during July 2010 that assimilated (i) no mesospheric observations, (ii) UAS data only, (iii) SABER and Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) mesospheric temperatures only, and (iv) SABER, MLS, and UAS data. Zonal mean temperatures and observation − forecast differences for the UAS-only and SABER+MLS experiments are similar throughout most of the mesosphere, and show large improvements over the experiment assimilating no mesospheric observations, proving that assimilation of UAS radiances can provide a reliable large-scale constraint throughout the mesosphere for operational, high-altitude analysis. This is confirmed by comparison of solar migrating tides and the quasi-two-day wave in the mesospheric analyses. The UAS-only experiment produces realistic tidal and two-day wave amplitudes in the summer mesosphere in agreement with the experiments assimilating MLS and SABER observations, whereas the experiment with no mesospheric observations produces excessively strong mesospheric winds and two-day wave amplitudes.

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Xun Zhu, Jeng-Hwa Yee, Ming Cai, William H. Swartz, Lawrence Coy, Valentina Aquila, Rolando Garcia, and Elsayed R Talaat

Abstract

The authors present a new method to diagnose the middle-atmosphere climate sensitivity by extending the climate feedback–response analysis method (CFRAM) for the coupled atmosphere–surface system to the middle atmosphere. The middle-atmosphere CFRAM (MCFRAM) is built on the atmospheric energy equation per unit mass with radiative heating and cooling rates as its major thermal energy sources. MCFRAM preserves CFRAM’s unique feature of additivity, such that partial temperature changes due to variations in external forcing and feedback processes can be added to give a total temperature change for direct comparison with the observed temperature change. In addition, MCFRAM establishes a physical relationship of radiative damping between the energy perturbations associated with various feedback processes and temperature perturbations associated with thermal responses. In this study, MCFRAM is applied to both observations and model output fields to diagnose the middle-atmosphere climate sensitivity. The authors found that the largest component of the middle-atmosphere temperature response to the 11-yr solar cycle (solar maximum vs solar minimum) is the partial temperature change due to the variation of the solar flux. Increasing CO2 cools the middle atmosphere, whereas the partial temperature change due to changes in O3 can be either positive or negative. The application of MCFRAM to model dynamical fields reconfirms the advantage of introducing the residual circulation to characterize middle-atmosphere dynamics in terms of the partial temperature changes. The radiatively driven globally averaged partial temperature change is approximately equal to the observed temperature change, ranging from −0.5 K near 25 km to −1.0 K near 70 km between solar maximum and solar minimum.

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Eun-Pa Lim, Harry H. Hendon, Amy H. Butler, David W. J. Thompson, Zachary Lawrence, Adam A. Scaife, Theodore G. Shepherd, Inna Polichtchouk, Hisashi Nakamura, Chiaki Kobayashi, Ruth Comer, Lawrence Coy, Andrew Dowdy, Rene D. Garreaud, Paul A. Newman, and Guomin Wang

Capsule Summary

During austral spring 2019 the Antarctic stratosphere experienced record-breaking warming and a near-record polar vortex weakening, resulting in predictable extreme climate conditions throughout the Southern Hemisphere through December 2019.

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